An Alabama woman who joined Islamic State (IS) in Syria will not be allowed to return to the United States with her toddler son because she is not an American citizen, the US Government has said.
- Hoda Muthana joined IS in Syria but wants to return to the US to protect her baby son
- Her lawyer says the US won’t let her return because she is not an American citizen
- Mr Trump said on Twitter he was behind the decision not to let her back in the country
Her lawyer is challenging the claim.
In a brief statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave no details as to how the Government made its determination.
“Ms Hoda Muthana is not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” he said.
“She does not have any legal basis, no valid US passport, no right to a passport nor any visa to travel to the United States.”
But Ms Muthana’s lawyer Hassan Shibly, who also works for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Ms Muthana was born in the US and had a valid passport before she joined IS in 2014.
He said she had renounced the terrorist group and wanted to come home to protect her 18-month-old son, regardless of the legal consequences.
“She’s an American. Americans break the law,” Mr Shibly said.
“When people break the law, we have a legal system to handle those kinds of situations to hold people accountable, and that’s all she’s asking for.”
Ms Muthana and her son are currently in a refugee camp in Syria.
Mr Shibly said the US Government said she did not qualify for citizenship because her father was a Yemeni diplomat.
But he said Ms Muthana’s father did not have diplomatic status at the time of her birth in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Mr Shibly released a copy of Ms Muthana’s birth certificate, issued two months after her birth on October 28, 1994, to support his claim.
He also revealed a letter from the US Mission to the United Nations (UN) to what was then known as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, attesting to the fact that Ms Muthana’s father, Ahmed Ali Muthana, was a member of the Yemeni diplomatic mission to the UN from October 15, 1990 to September 1, 1994.
US President Donald Trump said on Twitter he was personally behind the decision to prevent Ms Muthana re-entry into the US.
Donald Trump tweet: I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!
The announcement came one day after Britain said it was stripping the citizenship of Shamima Begum, a 19-year-old who left the country in 2015 with two friends to join IS and recently gave birth in a refugee camp.
It also comes as the US urged allies to take back citizens who joined IS, but are now in the custody of the American-backed forces fighting the remnants of the brutal extremist group that once controlled a vast area spanning parts of Syria and Iraq.
Ms Muthana once held a US passport
Ms Muthana’s lawyer Hassan Shibly said she wants to return home regardless of the legal consequences. (AP: Chris O’Meara)
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 US to an accredited foreign diplomatic officer is not subject to US law and is not automatically considered a US citizen at birth.
However, Ms Muthana’s case is unusual, if not unprecedented, in that she once held a US passport.
Passports are only issued to citizens by birth or naturalisation, according to the deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, Seamus Hughes.
Mr Hughes has studied the phenomenon of foreign IS fighters and families.
He said the decision is also unusual because it comes just days after the Trump administration urged European nations to repatriate extremists from Syria as IS nears collapse.
“If you are trying to make the case that others should take back their people, it stands to reason that you would do that, too,” he said.