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Former minister surprised radicalisation of IS bride Lisa Smith did not ring alarm bells while in the army

Former justice minister Dermot Ahern has said he is surprised that the radicalisation of Irish Islamic State bride Lisa Smith did not ring alarm bells given that she began the process while serving in the army.

Mr Ahern, who was Ms Smith's local TD up to 2011, noted that she had spoken previously of the support she received from her superiors in the Irish army when she converted to Islam.

"The one thing that surprises me is that she became a Muslim when she was in the defence forces and wanted to wear a hijab and she said the senior defence force officers treated her very well.

"I suspect she wasn't wearing a hijab in the government jet but I am surprised that, of all the people who were radicalised that she, who was in the defence forces, that it wasn't picked up in some way," he said.

"Ireland is a very small place," he added.

Lisa Smith, 37, from Dundalk, served in the army and Air Corps before quitting in 2011. She was married for a time to a Muslim man and lived in Britain but the relationship broke down and she left for Syria in 2015 where she married again and moved to Baghuz, the last IS stronghold which was defeated in recent weeks.

Now widowed and the mother of a two-year-old girl, she is being held in a refugee camp in Syria and has said she wants to come home.

The Government has said she will be facilitated to come home and has asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to assist as it has access to the camps.

If brought home, she will be quizzed about how she became radicalised and will be subject to a security assessment.