State Dept. Says 'American' ISIS Recruiter Isn't Actually American, Can't Return
Washington, DC – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the ISIS bride from Alabama is not a U.S. citizen, and so will not be re-admitted to the United States.
“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States. We continue to advise all U.S. citizens not to travel to Syria,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Muthana, 24, ran away from home four year ago to join ISIS and help recruit new members from the United States.
The secretary of state appeared on NBC’s Today on Thursday morning and reiterated the country’s stance on the matter when he was asked why the United States wouldn’t want to bring Muthana back to prosecute her.
“There are now over 800 foreign terrorist fighters that are being held in Syria today. She is just one of them. She’s a terrorist. She’s not a U.S. citizen. She ought not return to this country,” Pompeo replied.
He confirmed that Muthana was born in the United States while her father was serving as a diplomat from Yemen.
While the 14th Amendment guarantees U.S. citizenship to children born in the country, it does not apply to the children born of diplomats because they are not considered to be under the jurisdiction of the United States, ABC News reported.
U.S. officials have said that Muthana was born in New Jersey while her father was still a diplomat.
Her family’s attorney, Hassan Shibly, said that information was wrong.
"The Trump administration continues its attempts to wrongfully strip citizens of their citizenship," Shibly told ABC News in a statement. "Hoda Muthana had a valid US passport and is a citizen. She was born in Hackensack, NJ in October 1994, months after her father stopped being [a] diplomat."
Muthana was photographed by ISIS holding up a U.S. passport, which her family claims she had.
But the U.S. Department of State said "there are many reasons that an individual previously issued a passport may subsequently be found ineligible for that passport."
The department also said a passport "may be revoked and/or a renewal application denied,” according to ABC News.
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.
She 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,” the Muslim student 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.
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," 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.”