US says Alabama woman who joined Islamic State can't return

Hoda Muthana | Photo: MGN Online

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.

Posted: Feb 20, 2019 2:46 PM

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.

RELATED: Alabama woman who joined ISIS is begging to come home (CNN report)

"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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96677

Reported Deaths: 2911
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7143160
DeSoto559460
Harrison388374
Jackson350570
Madison331089
Rankin330679
Lee273670
Forrest248973
Jones248779
Washington225977
Lafayette219139
Lauderdale2059125
Bolivar184566
Oktibbeha179952
Lamar171635
Lowndes158058
Neshoba1579104
Panola149930
Sunflower147146
Leflore141081
Warren140750
Pontotoc127816
Pike124051
Monroe123568
Copiah119133
Scott117627
Coahoma116329
Marshall110617
Lincoln110253
Holmes109859
Grenada109036
Yazoo106230
Simpson104646
Tate100437
Union99824
Leake96038
Adams94137
Wayne90421
Pearl River89253
Marion86535
Prentiss86217
Covington82722
Itawamba82621
Alcorn82011
George78013
Tallahatchie77321
Newton77224
Winston74219
Tishomingo69038
Chickasaw68424
Tippah67117
Attala66725
Walthall60126
Clarke60046
Clay59518
Hancock58722
Jasper57515
Noxubee55116
Smith53415
Calhoun52112
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46420
Yalobusha43514
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38817
Humphreys37715
Quitman3775
Stone37412
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll31912
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2273
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19676351
Mobile13373292
Montgomery8834184
Tuscaloosa8621118
Madison788178
Shelby597849
Lee589760
Baldwin547750
Marshall394343
Calhoun351544
Etowah349045
Morgan329228
Houston290321
Elmore266748
DeKalb241621
St. Clair232235
Walker231684
Talladega216629
Limestone210120
Cullman189920
Dallas179026
Franklin177129
Autauga176425
Russell17603
Lauderdale171333
Colbert164626
Blount161115
Escambia160824
Chilton158530
Jackson157511
Covington140127
Dale138644
Coffee13486
Pike119810
Chambers116442
Tallapoosa116085
Clarke109116
Marion96429
Butler91239
Barbour8827
Winston74412
Marengo72020
Pickens66214
Bibb65410
Lowndes65327
Randolph64713
Hale63528
Geneva6254
Lawrence62023
Cherokee60813
Bullock60414
Monroe5898
Clay5858
Washington55713
Perry5416
Crenshaw53732
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry5055
Macon48018
Fayette4578
Sumter43819
Cleburne3805
Lamar3672
Choctaw34712
Greene30315
Coosa1713
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 64°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather