AP

US Says Alabama Woman Who Joined Islamic State Can’t Return

Feb 20, 2019, 1:57 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:15 pm
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Alabama woman who left home to join the Islamic State group in Syria is not a U.S. citizen and will not be allowed to return to the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.

In a brief statement that gave no details as to how the determination was reached, Pompeo said Hoda Muthana, who says she made a mistake in joining the group and now wants to return with her 18-month-old son, has no “legal basis” to claim American citizenship.

“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Pompeo said. “She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport nor any visa to travel to the United States.”

Muthana’s status had been considered by lawyers from the departments of State and Justice since her case arose, according to one U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official would not elaborate but said Pompeo’s statement was based on the lawyers’ conclusions.

An attorney for the woman’s family, Hassan Shibly, said the administration’s position is based on a “complicated” interpretation of the law involving her father.

“They’re claiming her dad was a diplomat when she was born, which, in fact, he wasn’t,” Shibly told The Associated Press.

Muthana was born in 1994 in Hackensack, New Jersey, the lawyer said.

Most people born in the United States are accorded so-called birthright citizenship but there are exceptions.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a person born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomatic officer is not subject to U.S. law and is not automatically considered a U.S. citizen at birth.

The 24-year-old, who joined the Islamic State after becoming radicalized, says she regrets aligning herself with the terrorist organization and wants to return to the United States, Shibly said on Tuesday. He said Muthana is putting herself at risk by speaking out against ISIS from a refugee camp where she has lived since fleeing the group a few weeks ago.

Muthana, who dodged sniper fire and roadside bombs to escape, is ready to pay the penalty for her actions but wants freedom and safety for the son she had with one of two IS fighters she wed, he said. Both men were killed in combat.

In a handwritten letter released by Shibly, Muthana wrote that she made “a big mistake” by rejecting her family and friends in the United States to join the Islamic State.

“During my years in Syria I would see and experience a way of life and the terrible effects of war which changed me,” she wrote.

After fleeing her home in suburban Birmingham in late 2014 and resurfacing in Syria, Muthana used social media to advocate violence against the United States. In the letter, Muthana wrote that she didn’t understand the importance of freedoms provided by the United States at the time.

“To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly,” said the letter.

Shibly said Muthana was brainwashed online before she left Alabama and now could have valuable intelligence for U.S. forces, but he said the FBI didn’t seem interested in retrieving her from the refugee camp where she is living with her son.

Muthana’s father would welcome the woman back, Shibly said, but she is not on speaking terms with her mother.

Ashfaq Taufique, who knows Muthana’s family and is president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, said the woman could be a valuable resource for teaching young people about the dangers of online radicalization were she allowed to return to the United States.

“Her coming back could be a very positive thing for our community and our country,” Taufique said.

___

Reeves reported from Birmingham, Alabama.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

A Qantas Boeing 747-400, registration VH-OEJ,  passes over Sydney's Eastern Suburbs as it departs S...
Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It's delivering its final 747 jumbo jet.
16 hours ago
Alec Baldwin charged in Rust shooting...
Associated Press

Prosecutors file charges in set shooting by Alec Baldwin

Actor Alec Baldwin and a weapons specialist have been formally charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set, according to court documents filed by prosecutors Tuesday.
16 hours ago
People attend a candlelight vigil in memory of Tyre Nichols at the Tobey Skate Park on January 26, ...
Adrian Sainz

7th Memphis officer disciplined, EMTs fired in Nichols death

Memphis police say two more officers involved in the arrest, beating and death of Tyre Nichols have been disciplined.
16 hours ago
R&B singer R. Kelly (L) arrives at the Cook County courthouse where jury selection is scheduled to ...
Claire Savage and Michael Tarm, Associated Press

Chicago prosecutor dropping R. Kelly sex-abuse charges

A Chicago prosecutor said Monday that she's dropping sex-abuse charges against singer R. Kelly following federal convictions in two courts that should guarantee the disgraced R&B star will be locked up for decades.
2 days ago
Amy Robach and TJ Holmes attend the 2022 ABC Disney Upfront at Basketball City - Pier 36 - South St...
Associated Press

TV anchors T.J. Holmes, Amy Robach leave ABC amid romance

T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, anchors at the afternoon extension of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” are leaving the network.
2 days ago
FILE - Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey gets ready to spin his popular "Wheel of Fugitive" in July...
Associated Press

Florida sheriff sued for ‘Wheel of Fugitive’ defamation

A man has filed a defamation lawsuit against a Florida sheriff who posts weekly “Wheel of Fugitive” videos on social media.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
US Says Alabama Woman Who Joined Islamic State Can’t Return