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Judge rules U.S.-born ISIS bride is not a citizen

Image: Hoda Muthana, who left Alabama for the Islamic State group's self-de
Hoda Muthana at the Al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria, Feb. 17, 2019. Copyright Ivor Prickett
Copyright Ivor Prickett
By Luke Denne with NBC News World News
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Hoda Muthana will not be allowed to return to the U.S. after travelling to Syria to join the extremists in 2014.


A federal judge has ruled that Hoda Muthana, an American-born woman who moved to Syria to join the Islamic State group, is not a U.S. citizen.

In an interview with NBC News earlier this month, Muthana said she believes she "deserves a second chance" to return to the U.S. after publicly renouncing the extremist ideology she once espoused freely online.

The New Jersey-born woman left the U.S. in 2014 to join the terrorist group, and burned her U.S. passport shortly after arriving in Syria. She went on to marry three ISIS fighters, all of whom were killed.

Her father, Ahmed Ali Muthana, had been suing to secure permission for his daughter to return to the U.S. with her two-year-old son Adam.

"If you're issued a passport you're a citizen," Muthana's attorney Charlie Swift told NBC News.

The case centers on whether Muthana's father, who originally came to the U.S. as a diplomat for the Yemeni government, was still in his diplomatic posting when she was born in 1994. The children of diplomats are not granted the right to citizenship by birthright.

Ahmed Ali Muthana — a naturalized U.S. citizen — says that his posting had concluded in the months before Hoda was born, but the State Department contested this.

In February, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told NBC News that "Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States."

"She's a terrorist," he added.

Ultimately, the judge agreed that there was sufficient evidence that her father was still a diplomat when she was born, and ruled that she should never have been considered a citizen in the first place.

The Alabama-raised woman became notorious for her online postings from Syria designed to recruit foreigners to join the group and commit acts of violence in their home countries.

In one post, she urged American jihadists to target events like Memorial Day and to "go on drivebys, and spill all of their blood."

Muthana has since said she felt remorse, and indicated that she "regrets every single thing."

Concerned for her son's health, she said she wants to return to the U.S. and face justice.

"They can watch over me 24/7, I'd be OK with that," she told NBC News from the al-Roj refugee camp in northern Syria this month.

"I want my son to be around my family, I want to go to school, I want to have a job and I want to have my own car."

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