Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday declared that an Alabama woman who left in November 2014 to join ISIS and is detained in a Kurdish refugee camp is not an American citizen, essentially shutting down a public plea she has made in recent days to return to the US.
“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. 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,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Muthana, 24, was a college student when she traveled to Syria over four years ago to join ISIS — eventually marrying three fighters and calling for the killing of Americans on Twitter.
After she joined ISIS, she tweeted a photo of her American passport with the caption, “Bonfire soon, no need for these anymore. alhamdulillah,” according to BuzzFeed News reporter Ellie Hall.
In a series of interviews this week from a sprawling camp in northern Syria with her infant son, she expressed deep remorse.
“When I left to Syria I was a naive, angry, and arrogant young woman,” she said in a handwritten statement provided to CNN by a representative. “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.”
Hassan Shibly, a family representative for Muthana, denied that she was not a citizen, and called the move by the Trump administration to claim otherwise “very dangerous.”
According to Shibly, Muthana was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1994.
”The Trump administration continues its attempts to wrongfully strip citizens of their citizenship,” Shibly said in statement.
“Hoda Muthana had a valid US passport and is a citizen. She was born in Hackensack, NJ in October 1994, months after her father stopped being diplomat,” he added before later tweeting a picture of what he claimed is Muthana’s birth certificate, that appeared to confirm her place and date of birth.
Asked about Muthana’s case on Tuesday, State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino noted that “the situation of American citizens or possible American citizens in Syria is by definition extremely complicated and we’re looking into these cases to better understand the details.”
Palladino would not speak to the specific case, but said that in cases involving “American citizens or potential American citizens or alleged American citizens,” US policy “would be to repatriate them, and it’s what we call on all countries to do who have (foreign terrorist) fighters in Syria too.”