Washington, Feb 21 (IANS) President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to allow Hoda Muthana, an Alabama woman who left in November 2014 to join IS, to return to the US — despite her recent public plea to come back and stand trial in America.
“I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!,” Trump tweeted.
Hours earlier, Pompeo declared that Muthana, who is detained in a Kurdish refugee camp, is not an American citizen, reports CNN.
“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the US. She does not have any legal basis, no valid US passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the US,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Muthana, now 24, was a college student when she travelled to Syria over four years ago to join IS — eventually marrying three fighters and calling for the killing of Americans on Twitter.
In a series of interviews this week from a sprawling camp in northern Syria with her infant son, she expressed deep remorse.
“When I left to Syria I was a naive, angry, and arrogant young woman,” she said in a handwritten statement provided to CNN by a representative. “To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly.”
Hassan Shibly, a family representative for Muthana, denied that she was not a citizen, and called the move by the Trump administration to claim otherwise “very dangerous.”
According to Shibly, Muthana was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1994.
“The Trump administration continues its attempts to wrongfully strip citizens of their citizenship,” Shibly said in statement.
“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 diplomat,” he added before later tweeting a picture of what he claimed is Muthana’s birth certificate, that appeared to confirm her place and date of birth.
Asked about Muthana’s case on Tuesday, State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino noted that “the situation of American citizens or possible American citizens in Syria is by definition extremely complicated and we’re looking into these cases to better understand the details.”
Palladino would not speak to the specific case, but said that in cases involving “American citizens or potential American citizens or alleged American citizens,” US policy “would be to repatriate them, and it’s what we call on all countries to do who have (foreign terrorist) fighters in Syria too.”