Maybe it’s a measure of our maturity as a people that, unlike public opinion across the water, the news that we are prepared to welcome back the Isis brides has not caused the sky to fall in. And even if the Government jet – an aircraft she herself is not unfamiliar with – is sent to bring Lisa Smith home, it will be no more than a nine days’ wonder. She is, after all, an Irish citizen, who deserves rescue from the hell hole that is Syria.
But it is when the apologists for Lisa Smith tell us that she was duped into joining Islamic State, that she was an innocent abroad, that credibility begins to be stretched to the limit.
Unless Smith has been living on a desert island for her adult life, she could not have but been aware of the atrocities and butchery carried out by those who sought the creation of the caliphate. Sympathy for someone who made a foolish mistake and found out the truth too late, is one thing; telling us she didn’t realise the barbaric nature of the murder machine to which she was giving her allegiance is simply too hard to swallow.
Islamic State had never hesitated to openly glorify its bloodthirsty excesses in the pursuit of its end objective. Videos posted by the jihadists had extolled its orgies of violence as ethnic cleansing of religious minority groups was carried out with indescribable savagery. Yazidi tribespeople, among others, were shot and dumped in mass graves. Women and girls, some still children, were taken to be sold in Islamic State slave markets or passed from fighter to fighter to be raped and brutalised. There was no secret about its methods, no attempt to conceal anything.All of this was constantly shown to the world by way of mass media, so that would-be jihadists like Lisa Smith could have been under no illusion. And even if she had not known, Smith could hardly have been deaf and blind to the fate of Lee Rigby, hacked to death by Islamic terrorists on the streets of London in a crime that shocked Britain.
Rigby, a soldier, just as Smith had been, was butchered to death on a May afternoon near Woolwich barracks. The off duty 25 year-old died when two British born followers of Islamic State ran him down with a car, then used knives and a cleaver to hack him to death as he lay injured. His killers then waited for police to arrive, engaging then in a wild gun battle before they were finally subdued.
Rigby’s funeral was attended by service personnel from every European country, among them colleagues of Smith, paying tribute to a fellow soldier whose killing evoked a fraternal sense of shock and horror at the warped minds of his killers.
Nor could Smith have been in ignorance of the hideous death of people like the American journalist, James Foley, beheaded by Isis in Syria, his last moments shown on video as the murderer known as ‘Jihadi John’ performed the fatal deed.
Later, there would be the British aid worker, David Haines, and his fellow Briton, Alan Henning, who had given up his work as a taxi driver to go on humanitarian work in Syria. They too were captured by Islamic State and, forced to kneel in the sand, handcuffed behind their backs, were beheaded, the heinous deeds mockingly recorded on video for the world to see.
Lisa Smith, and those like her, have had ample time to regret the warped delusion that brought them to Syria. And if they now wish to return, they are entitled to do so, however controversially that may be viewed.
But to spin the fable that they were naïve babes in the wood, duped in their simple innocence, is truly a bridge too far.