American Who Ran Off To Recruit For ISIS Now Wants U.S. To Save Her
Hoover, AL – A 24-year-old woman, who ran away from her Alabama home four years ago to become an ISIS bride, wants to come home now.
Hoda Muthana told ABC News that she became radicalized by a group of ISIS supporters on Twitter in response to overly strict Muslim parents who wouldn’t let her have a more Americanized life.
Muthana joined the terrorist organization and began spreading hate online and calling for attacks on American citizens.
"Americans wake up. ... Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood. ... Veterans, patriots,” she tweeted on Memorial Day weekend before she left University of Alabama – Birmingham to join ISIS.
Muthana said that when ISIS announced the caliphate, she and other members of the online community she’d joined "interpreted ourselves that it was obligatory upon us to go," ABC News reported.
She said she didn’t think of the consequences before she began her trip to Syria.
“I don’t know, I thought I was doing things correctly for the sake of God,” Muthana told the Guardian. “And when I came here and saw everything with my own eyes I realized I’ve made a big mistake.”
Muthana told ABC News she was put into a house with 200 other people and told the only way she could leave was to marry an ISIS fighter.
She said she was given a list of people and told to choose a husband.
Her first husband was an Australian ISIS fighter and he was killed three months after they got married, according to ABC News.
Her second husband was Tunisian, and he was killed a year later. In between, she gave birth to their little boy. The child is now 18 months old.
"Everyone blames the struggles of the things that go on in a war zone that it's a test from God basically," Muthana told ABC News.
She said she was ashamed of her anti-American tweets when they became public.
"I was still at the peak of being brainwashed I guess and I had people all around me that were just widowed so we were very angry ... because we were all just young girls married for the first time - most of us it was our first relationships - and then he just suddenly died," Muthana said. "I can't even believe I thought of that."
She said that when she became pregnant, two years after she arrived in the Middle East, she started to worry about her baby’s future, and she asked about getting out.
Muthana said that “everyone was starving” and there was no food available to buy.
She said she knew it was time to go when the only thing she had to feed her baby was grass from the yard that she fried.
Muthana said her husband and friends were shocked about her change of heart, ABC News reported.
“The more I gained knowledge, I knew that it wasn't correct. ... We were just at the beginning of seeking knowledge once we did come to ISIS so we had just young people not knowing much about their religion, thinking they knew everything really, and we interpreted everything very wrong," she said.
Muthana’s father told ABC News that he had no clue his daughter had been sucked into ISIS via social media until after she was gone.
He said he knew she’d become more religious and was proud of her for that.
“I never thought in my life that it would happen to us, to me, to my family, but it happened," her father said. "It could happen to any other family."
Muthana told ABC News she doesn’t know where her third husband is.
She surrendered to Kurdish authorities and became one of 1,500 women and children in Syrian refugee camps.
Once there, Muthana reached out to her family and said she wanted to come home.
She said she has not yet heard from U.S. consulate officials about her request.
Muthana is believed to be the only American in the refugee camp, ABC News reported.
Her family’s attorney described the young mother as “brainwashed” and feeling “tremendous remorse.”
"This is a young, vulnerable woman who was brainwashed and manipulated by monsters who took advantage of her," Hassan Shibly told ABC News. "Hoda is absolutely disgusted by the person she became while under the spell."
Shibly said Muthana’s family was “extremely traumatized” when she ran away and had been in touch with the authorities.
“For them this is worse than losing the life of a child, to have them join such a horrible, horrible gang of violent extremists,” the attorney said. “Nothing can describe the pain they are facing.”