WASHINGTON D.C. – United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told a press briefing that the United States will refuse to take back a US-born Islamic State propagandist Hoda Muthana, 24 who wants to return from Syria, saying that she is no longer a US citizen.
The refusal to admit 24-year-old Hoda Muthana could set precedent and face legal challenges as it is generally extremely difficult to lose US citizenship.
“Hoda Muthana is not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday.
“She does not have any legal basis, no valid US passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States,” the secretary of state said. “We continue to strongly advise all US citizens not to travel to Syria.”
The 24-year old who left Alabama to join Isis after becoming radicalized says she regrets aligning herself with the terrorist organization and wants to return to the United States with her 18-month-old son.
Muthana, who was captured by Kurdish forces after fleeing the last pocket of land controlled by Islamic State, said she “deeply regrets” travelling to Syria four years ago to join the terror group and has pleaded to be allowed to return to her family in Alabama.
Speaking from al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria, Muthana, who was once one of Isis’s most prominent online agitators, said she had been brainwashed and had misunderstood her faith when she aligned herself with Isis.
Pompeo’s statement on Muthana – one of the few Americans among the hundreds of Europeans to have joined the ranks of the Islamic State group in Syria – is at stark odds with his calls on other countries to bring back and prosecute their own jihadist nationals.
Muthana was born in the United States to parents from Yemen who became naturalized American citizens, according to the Counter Extremism Project at George Washington University.
In late 2014, shortly after moving to Syria, Muthana posted on Twitter a picture of four women who appeared to torch their Western passports, including an American one.
She went on to write vivid calls over social media to kill Americans, glorifying the extremist group that for a time ruled vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.
But with the Islamic State group down to its last stretch of land, Muthana said she had renounced extremism and wanted to return home.
Muthana, who has been detained by US-allied Kurdish fighters, said that she had been brainwashed online and was ashamed of her past support for the militants.
She was married three times and has a toddler son.
Meanwhile, A British Muslim teenager, Shamima Begum now 19, who left London when she was aged 15 to join Islamic State in Syria, has had her British citizenship revoked, according to a letter sent to her family published by ITV News on Tuesday.
Begum, who gave birth to a son at the weekend, was discovered in a refugee camp in Syria by a London Times journalist earlier this month. Now aged 19, she has told reporters she wants to return to Britain.
The letter addressed to Begum’s mother said: “Please find enclosed papers that relate to a decision taken by the Home Secretary, to deprive your daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British citizenship.
“In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary’s decision has been served of file today (19th February), and the order removing her British citizenship has subsequently been made.”
Both Begum and Muthana have stated that they wish to return to the western culture for the sake of their sons. Both young women have stated there regrets for travelling to Syria however neither has renounced their affiliation to Islamic State or their radical beliefs.
Source: The Guardian, The Associated Press