ISIS defector’s attempt at reentry makes for complicated situation

Despite a history with ISIS, Hoda Muthana is hoping to be readmitted into the U.S.

The topic of citizenship in the United States has been hotly debated in recent years, but Alabama-born Hoda Muthana is thrusting the issue into an entirely new light. Muthana is seeking to reenter the United States following a stint as a member of a radical Islamic terror group that has killed countless citizens across the Middle East.

Muthana, a 24-year-old runaway, made headlines following her defection from the United States to join the Islamic State, the notorious terror group that has been brutalizing Syria and Iraq for the past several years. In 2014, following a supposed trip to Atlanta, Muthana instead traveled to Turkey and was smuggled into Syria. She was married twice to IS fighters who were later killed in combat. Following the massive decline of the caliphate’s territory, Muthana fled to the al-Hawl refugee camp in late 2018.

A notable detail in this saga involves a suspended Twitter account that was run by Muthana. Despite claims of Muthana’s lack of support for the terrorist group, the account was suspended for declaring allegiance to the Islamic State, as well as sharing violent propaganda and inciting violence toward American citizens in the United States.

Muthana and her family are now insisting on her acceptance back into the United States on the basis of citizenship, a claim that the United States State Department is seeking to block.

Muthana’s family is campaigning against efforts to keep her out; however, the immeasurable loss of life, physical destruction and political turmoil wrought by the Islamic State has hamstrung any sympathy that Muthana could possibly garner in the United States.

The current state of Muthana’s citizenship status is murky at best; she was born in New Jersey, however, her father is a former foreign diplomat, a fact that the U.S. State Department is relying on to revoke her citizenship. Children born on U.S. soil are considered automatic citizens, with the one rare exception of children born to foreign ambassadors.

However, the United States government is going to have a difficult time legally separating Muthana from her citizenship; the government has recognized and treated her as a citizen since her birth, issuing all relevant vital records and documents including a Real ID-compliant passport issued since 9/11 response standards were enacted. Additionally, the Geneva Convention has provisions against creating a stateless person, and a United States Supreme Court case, Trop v. Dulles, forbids the removal of citizenship as a punishment.

It’s unlikely this case will be resolved soon, due to the length of the appeals process as well as the vast amounts of international red tape that exists in cases of this nature. However, if Muthana is indeed a US citizen, she deserves the best the American judicial system has to offer. Most notable among these accommodations is a trial, in which she will most likely be found guilty, and a prison term that matches her crimes. If being young and stupid isn’t a good enough excuse to prevent kids from being thrown in jail for marijuana, it shouldn’t apply in this case involving inciting murder and committing treason.

Post Author: Lindsey Prather