- Hoda Muthana is one of two former ISIS brides fighting to return to the US, who told their stories to The New York Times on Tuesday.
- On Thursday, the New Jersey-born woman’s lawyer Hassan Shibly spoke to INSIDER about how her 18-month-old child is being held in limbo by the Trump administration’s efforts to block her repatriation.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement on Wednesday saying Muthana would not be allowed back in the country because she is not a citizen. He later said it’s because her father was a diplomat when she was born.
- Shibly showed INSIDER a document that he said proves her father’s diplomat status ended before her birth in October 1994.
While 24-year-old Hoda Muthana is trying to return to the US after fleeing to join ISIS, the fate of her 18-month-old son is also in limbo.
The New Jersey-born woman shocked her family when she fled home in 2014 to join the terrorist group in Syria. Now, the ISIS bride and her young son are essentially stateless, living in a Kurdish refugee camp in northern Syria.
Muthana was one of two former American ISIS brides who spoke to The New York Times in a story published Tuesday about their regrets about joining the caliphate and their efforts to return home now that the terrorist group has fallen.
The Trump administration has taken a hard stance when it comes to Muthana’s repatriation.
President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday: “I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!”
Pompeo also released a statement on Wednesday, saying she’s not a US citizen and won’t be allowed back in the country.
While he didn’t initially say why Muthana wasn’t a citizen, he later clarified in an interview on the “Today” show Thursday that it was because her father was a diplomat at the time of her birth, which he said would exempt her from birthright citizenship.
“She is a terrorist. She’s not a U.S. citizen. She ought not return to this country.” @SecPompeo tells @craigmelvin of Hoda Muthana, the woman from Alabama who left to join ISIS pic.twitter.com/Jjiujv8rnQ
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 21, 2019
Muthana’s lawyer, Hassan Shibly, refuted this conclusion, showing INSIDER a document that he said proves Muthana’s father stopped being a diplomat a month before she was born in October 1994.
If Muthana is a US citizen as her lawyer says, that means her son was born with Islamic State citizenship – and a right to claim his American citizenship.
As ISIS claimed territory in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist organisation started acting as the de facto government, issuing birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and marriage certificates.
‘I don’t think he should have to pay for his mother’s crime’
Shibly lamented the fact that Muthana’s son is bearing the burden of his mother’s mistake.
“He’s the son of a woman born in New Jersey,” Shibly said. “And through that, he himself has a right to citizenship. I don’t think he should have to pay for his mother’s crime.”
Since Shibly said Muthana knows she faces serious jail time in the US if she returns, it appears her efforts to come back are largely motivated by the welfare of her child – to give him a better life.
“She’s not saying ‘I want to come back home as if nothing happened’,” he said. “She realises that she’s probably going to have to come back in handcuffs …. and I think for Hoda, the most painful moment that she’s worried about is those last few moments she will have with her child.”
Shibly said he doesn’t think Muthana’s parents have been able to meet their grandson over Skype, and he hasn’t had conversations with them about what they hope to happen with him.
“I know the mother is still extremely hurt, just not on talking terms with her daughter,” he said. “I think there’s a great sense of shame and disappointment, pain and hurt.”
But he said that if Muthana came back to the US, the “goal would be to have the child taken care of by family members” so that Muthana could go through the justice system.
If they aren’t allowed to return to the US, Shibly said another country could possibly accept Muthana and her son as refugees, or the worst-case scenario: They could be handed over to Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime.
“She literally had bullets fired at her, so she’s taken the risk to do things by the book at this point, now that she’s remorseful,” he said. “She’s not necessarily choosing the easier way out [by trying to come back to the US], but she is choosing the way I think she feels is most right at this point.”
Shibly went to far as to say that the Trump administration was giving Muthana a “free pass”, since she’s asking to come back and be tried so she can repay her debt to society, and they’re denying to prosecute her in the US by denying her citizenship status.
- Read more:
- ISIS bride from Alabama who urged people to drive pick-up trucks into crowds on Veterans Day wants to come back to the US: ‘Please forgive me’
- ISIS brides from Canada, the US, and Europe are asking to return home years after fleeing for Syria. Here are their stories.
- 11 American women who left the US to become ISIS brides and fighters