The US Government has said that Hoda Muthana, a 24 year old Alabama woman who fled to Syria in 2014 to join ISIS fighters will not be allowed to return to the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Muthana is not a U.S. citizen, but her attorneys insist she does hold U.S. citizenship and was born in Hackensack, New Jersey. She is now in a refugee camp in Syria with her 18-month-old son.
In 2014, Muthana, then a 20-year-old student, apparently left Alabama after first registering for classes and then withdrawing and getting a refund check. She lied to her parents saying she was traveling to Georgia for a university event. She went to Turkey instead and was then smuggled into Syria to join the Islamic State at the height of the Caliphate. She reportedly served as a recruiter and urged attacks on the West.
Muthana briefly made headlines again after her takfiri husband of 87 days was allegedly killed during an airstrike carried out by the Royal Jordanian Air Force on March 17, 2015. Now, years later, with the militant group she belonged to driven out of Syria, she is hoping to return to the United States. Along with 12 other Americans, mostly women and children, Muthana is being held by U.S. Kurdish allies in Syria. She claims she regrets her decision to join the group and is ready to face the consequences of her act -including jail time. She said during a recent interview “I hope they excuse me because of how young and ignorant I was. Now I’m changed. Now I’m a mother and I have none of the ideology and hopefully everyone will see it when I come back. I hope America doesn’t think I’m a threat to them and I hope they can accept me.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s unprecedented statement declaring that Muthana was not a U.S. citizen with no legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States has been controversial. Muthana, was in fact, born in Hackensack, New Jersey in 1994 which does make her a U.S. citizen via birthright. Some believe she is not a U.S. citizen because her father was a Yemeni diplomat in the U.S. on official business. The US Constitution grants citizenship to everyone born in the country – with the exception of children of diplomats, as they are not under US jurisdiction.
Muthana’s father has filed an emergency lawsuit asking a federal court to affirm that his daughter is a US citizen and to let her return along with her toddler son. In the lawsuit, Muthana’s father said he was asked by Yemen to surrender his diplomatic identity card on June 2, 1994, as the Arab country descended into one of its civil wars. Hoda Muthana was born in New Jersey on Oct 28 of that year and the family later settled in Hoover, Alabama. The State Department initially questioned her right to citizenship when her father sought a passport for her as a child because US records showed he had been a diplomat until February 1995, the lawsuit said. The State Department accepted a letter from the US mission to the UN that affirmed that he had ended his position before his daughter’s birth, and granted her a passport. The lawsuit said that Hoda Muthana was also entitled to citizenship due to her mother, as she became a US permanent resident, anticipating the loss of diplomatic status, in July 1994.