Trump bars US-born woman who joined ISIL from returning
WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
Trump’s refusal to admit 24-year-old Hoda Muthana comes just as he is pressing Europeans to repatriate their own ISIL fighters and will likely face legal challenges, with U.S. citizenship extremely difficult to lose.
Trump said on Twitter he has “instructed” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the country,” a break with usual U.S. protocol not to comment on individuals’ immigration issues.
“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Pompeo said in a terse statement.
“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,” he added.
The U.S. generally grants citizenship to everyone born on its soil and the Alabama-raised Muthana is believed to have traveled to Syria on a U.S. passport.
But a U.S. official said a later investigation showed that she had not been entitled to her passport, adding: “Ms. Muthana’s citizenship has not been revoked because she was never a citizen.”
Officials declined further comment but in a loophole that could boost the government case, Muthana’s father had been a diplomat from Yemen and children of diplomats are not automatically given citizenship.
Muthana’s lawyer, Hassan Shilby, showed a birth certificate that demonstrated she was born in New Jersey in 1994 and said her father had ceased being a diplomat “months and months” before her birth.
“She is a U.S. citizen. She had a valid passport. She may have broken the law and, if she has, she’s willing to pay the price,” Shilby told AFP at his office in Tampa.
He said Muthana wanted due process and was willing to go to prison if convicted.
Muthana, raised in a strict household in Hoover, Alabama, said she was brainwashed by social media messages and headed to Syria without her parents’ knowledge in 2014.
Shortly afterward, Muthana posted on Twitter a picture of herself and three other women who appeared to torch their Western passports, including an American one.
She went on to post vivid calls on social media to kill Americans, glorifying the ruthless extremist group notorious for its beheadings that for a time ruled vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.
But with the ISIL down to its last stretch of land, Muthana said she has renounced extremism and wants to return home with her toddler son, born to one of her three jihadist husbands.
The U.S. decision on Muthana comes amid rising debate in Europe on the nationality of extremists. Britain recently revoked the citizenship of Shamina Begum, who similarly traveled to Syria and wants to return to her country of birth.
Britain asserted that she was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship due to her heritage, but the Dhaka government on Feb. 20 denied that she was eligible, leading her to become effectively stateless.
British interior minister Sajid Javid said yesterday he would not take a decision that would leave anyone stateless, after Bangladesh’s statement.