An Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State is still hoping that she can return home to the United States, even though her citizenship status has been questioned.
Hoda Muthana, a 28-year-old, is being held by U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in a Syrian detention camp. During an interview from the camp, Muthana said traffickers brainwashed her over the internet in 2014 and persuaded her to join. She said she regrets all of it except her son, whom she had with one of the Islamic State fighters.
“I’ve always said if I need to sit in prison, and do my time, I will do it. I as well am a victim of ISIS,” she told The News Movement.
“I’m hoping my government looks at me as someone young at the time and naive,” she said, per the Associated Press.
Muthana’s parents immigrated from Yemen and she was born in New Jersey, but raised in Alabama. She left home when she was twenty years old to unite with ISIS. She grew up in a conservative Muslim home and told her family she was going on a trip with her school, but instead traveled to Turkey and went into Syria.
“[Her parents] didn’t know I was leaving, but they had an idea,” Hoda previously said in a 2015 interview with Buzzfeed News in which she spoke positively of ISIS. “They’d see news reports about girls who have made it [to Syria] and say things like, ‘Hoda would probably do that.’’’
“I believe she’s been brainwashed,” her father said at the time, when first questioned about her. “She’s not that kind of girl. They brainwashed her.”
In the 2015 interview, she also explained how she had lied to her father about wanting money to escape. She pretended to want to get out because she was being pressured with marriage. He said he had told her she might be pushed into marrying when she initially got to Syria.
When she got to Syria, she says in her recent interview that she was kept in a locked house for unmarried women and kids.
“We slept in very unsanitary places. I’ve never seen that kind of filthiness in my life, like there was 100 women and twice as much kids, running around, too much noise, filthy beds,” she said in the new interview.
“It’s like a system that makes you almost go crazy to force yourself to get married because that’s the only way out,” she noted.
The only option to get out was to marry an ISIS fighter, and she married three of them and had her son. The first two men died during combat and she reportedly said she got a divorce from the third man.
In early 2019, she ran away from one of the enclaves in Syria and went to another prison camp.
In the past, however, she posted favorably about ISIS on social media. She now has said in the recent interview that her phone was confiscated and Islamic State backers posted the tweets.
In 2016, the Obama administration revoked her citizenship, stating her father was a diplomat when Muthana was born, which her lawyers have argued against. In 2019, a federal judge ruled that she is not a citizen of the United States, and the Supreme Court did not take up her appeal last January.