President Trump is taking credit for the State Department’s announcement Wednesday that a 24-year-old Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State group in Syria will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier in the day that Hoda Muthana has no legal basis to come back to the U.S.
“I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” the president tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Muthana is now in a refugee camp in Syria along with others who fled the Islamic State and says she made a mistake in joining the group.
Pompeo announced on Wednesday that Muthana won’t be allowed to enter the country with her toddler son because she is not an American citizen, a claim that was challenged by her lawyer. Muthana’s lawyer says the administration’s position is based on a “complicated” interpretation of immigration law. The lawyer insists her family contends she is and always was a U.S. natural-born citizen, born in New Jersey in 1994.
Her father, according to the lawyer, was not a diplomat at the time. And under U.S. law, a person born to a foreign diplomat is “not subject to the jurisdiction” of U.S. law, though individuals who fall into this category may be considered permanent residents at birth and are also eligible for green cards.
But Muthana’s lawyer says that she is a U.S. citizen and holds a U.S. passport. There are references in media stories about Muthana that say that after she left the U.S. for Syria, she shared on social media a picture of herself burning her passport. Her lawyer says that this act, if it did take place, isn’t sufficient grounds for Muthana to have to forfeit her citizenship.
Muthana left home to join the Islamic State group in Syria in 2014. 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 with her 18-month-old son.
U.S.-backed forces in Syria are preparing for a final surge into the last town held by ISIS. Even after the terror group is destroyed, there is the question of what to do with the hundreds of ISIS fighters and their families from foreign countries, including Muthana. Muthana was 20 years old when she left her home in Hoover, Alabama to become the bride of an ISIS fighter in Syria. Now a mother and a widow, she’s living in a refugee camp.
“I know I’ve ruined my future and my sons future and I deeply, deeply regret it,” she told The Guardian.
While studying business at the University of Alabama, Muthana told her family she was going on a school trip and instead flew to the Middle East. In a letter to her family, seen by CBS News, she wrote, “I was a naive, angry and arrogant young woman… seeing blood shed up close changed me.”
Muthana is one of a small number of U.S. citizens who’ve joined ISIS, but America’s Syrian allies are thought to be holding around 800 foreign ISIS fighters along with their wives and children.
Kathryn Watson, Erin Lyall and Christina Ruffini contributed to this report.