An Alabama-raised woman who left to join ISIS in Syria and is begging to return to the U.S. has been denied entry.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday refuted the idea that the woman is a U.S. citizen at all, and rejected her pleas to return to the U.S.
“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Pompeo said in a State Department press release. “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. We continue to strongly advise all U.S. citizens not to travel to Syria.”
— ABC News (@ABC) February 20, 2019
Muthana was reportedly born in New Jersey and later lived with her family in Birmingham, Ala.
“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 [a] diplomat,” her attorney, Hassan Shibly, told ABC News.
Her family lived in New Jersey, New York, then Washington, D.C., before finally settling in Alabama when she was in the seventh grade.
Shortly after graduating high school and briefly studying at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Muthana fled to Syria in 2014 when she was just 19 years old.
There, she lived with ISIS fighters, underwent three marriages and had a son, who is now 18 months old.
She was captured by Kurdish forces and taken to a northern Syria detention camp with some 1,500 other women and children, all of whom are unable to leave the camp.
“The government needs to engage with her, but not just her; all of these people who joined ISIS,” Shibly told USA Today. “If she broke the law, then the justice system can deal with her, and if she didn’t break the law, she should come back anyway, so it can be determined if she is a threat.”
Muthana said a strict upbringing and later brainwashing caused her to pursue ISIS.
“I thought I was doing things correctly for the sake of God,” she said, adding that she was “brainwashed once and my friends are still brainwashed.”