Governments for the U.S. and U.K. have moved to bar two women who defected to ISIS from returning home, and to strip them of citizenship in the process.
Hoda Muthana, 24, had issued multiple pleas to be allowed to return home to her family in Alabama after fleeing ISIS’s last pocket of territory in Syria in January. Despite her past fervor for the terror group — and her social media history of agitating for domestic terrorism within the U.S. — Muthana insisted that she deeply regretted joining ISIS as a 19-year-old. But on Wednesday, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo declared that Muthana was “not a U.S. citizen,” that she had no “legal basis” to claim citizenship, and that the state department would intervene should she try to come home.
Hassan Shibly, an attorney representing Muthana’s family, said that the administration was employing a dubious legal loophole to deny Muthana her birthright citizenship — despite the fact that she was born in Hackensack, New Jersey.
“They’re claiming her dad was a diplomat when she was born, which, in fact, he wasn’t,” Shibly told The Associated Press.
British national Shamima Begum, 19, has also reportedly been denied the right to return home by her government. After joining ISIS as a 15-year-old, Begum had two children — both of whom died — and recently gave birth to a third child while in custody at a camp in Syria. Begum has said she doesn’t regret joining the terror group, but that she wished to return to England for the sake of her newborn. In a letter sent to Begum’s mother’s home on Tuesday, the Home Office wrote that an “order removing [Begum’s] British citizenship has subsequently been made,” according to ITV News. According to the family’s attorney, Tasnime Akunjee, such a move is illegal under British law as it would make the teenager stateless. The lawyer added that the family would pursue “all legal avenues to challenge this decision.”