On Twitter, US President Donald Trump said Hoda Muthana would be barred from re-entering the country after joining ISIS.

By Daniel Herborn


Posted on February 21, 2019

The US President said he had instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prevent her from returning and that Pompeo agreed.

Pompeo had earlier said that the 24-year-old Muthana was not a US citizen and would not be allowed to enter the country.

Confusion over Muthana’s citizenship status

Muthana had grown up in Alabama and went to Syria at age 20 to join Islamic State after telling her family she was travelling to the region for a university trip. During her time in Syria, she urged attacks on the US.

Her family has disputed the assertion that she does not have citizenship. “The Trump administration continues its attempts to wrongfully strip citizens of their citizenship,” Hassan Shibly, the Muthana family’s lawyer, told news outlets.

Her citizenship status is complicated by the fact her father was in the US as a diplomat. He was removed from his post months before she was born. Generally, children of diplomats do not receive birthright citizenship as they are under the jurisdiction of their parent’s home country.

Muthana has recently been captured and is now living in a refugee camp in Northern Syria.

In an interview with ABC, she said she regretted inciting violence against the US on social media. “I wish I could take it completely off the net, completely out of people’s memory,” she said. “I hope America doesn’t think I’m a threat to them and I hope they can accept me and I’m just a normal human being who’s been manipulated once and hopefully never again.”

Shamima Begum denied re-entry to the UK after joining Islamic State

Muthana’s case is similar to another high-profile story involving a young woman recruited to ISIS. UK-born teenager Shamima Begum has also been barred from returning to the country and officials said they would revoke her citizenship.

As with Muthana’s case, the facts around Begum’s citizenship are disputed. The UK would be able to cancel her citizenship if she is a dual citizen. They believed she also had Bangladeshi citizenship but the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry has said this is not the case.

“The Government of Bangladesh is deeply concerned that she has been erroneously identified as a holder of dual citizenship shared with Bangladesh alongside her birthplace, the United Kingdom,” it said in a statement.

“She is a British citizen by birth and has never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh … There is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh.”

Begum went to Syria as a 15-year-old to join Islamic State, which has been categorised as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations. She said she did not regret joining the group but did not agree with all its actions.

Header image credit: Gage Skidmore