An Islamic State bride originally from the US, hopeful of returning to her home after fleeing to join the terrorist group, has had her request denied by the US Secretary of State and President Donald Trump.
Speaking from a refugee camp in northern Syria, Hoda Muthana, 24, claimed she had been manipulated and said she was hopeful of being accepted back to the US. She suggested in an interview with the US ABC News yesterday that if she returned to America she could undergo therapy.
Ms Huthana left her home in Hoover, Alabama, in 2014 after becoming radicalised. She was a rampant online propagandist for IS and part of a network of extremist young Muslims who shared their violent views on Twitter.
During her time as an IS propagandist, Muthana’s urged her followers to commit murderous acts on US public holidays.
“Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriot, Memorial etc Day parades. go on drive by’s + spill all of their blood or rent a big truck n drive all over them. Kill them,” she tweeted.
She also called for an attack on former president Barack Obama.
“You can look up Obamas schedule on the white house website. Take down that treacherous tyrant!” she wrote.
She said she “can’t believe” she spread had those views.
“I interpreted everything very wrong,” she said.
She said she and others like her were brainwashed and told things by members of IS that were “very wrong”.
She explained a sickening process of pairing off IS brides with fighters, where she picked her multiple husbands from a list of photos. Her first husband was Australian jihadi and IS fighter Suhan Rahman, who was killed in battle. Her second husband was also killed fighting, and she married a third time but she no longer knows where her husband is.
She said “200 other brides” of young ages, many teenagers, were put together in a locked room and shown pictures and advised on which husband to choose.
“They keep you in Raqqa with locks on all the doors and windows with a guard in front of the door,” Ms Huthana explained.
“At any time there would be about 200 people. Everyone just gave their preferences on who they’d like to marry and you were given a list and you could choose.”
Ms Muthana said she was not a threat to the US, and had been indoctrinated by the extremist group.
“I’m a normal human being who has been manipulated,” she said.
“I hope America doesn’t think I am a threat to them and I hope they accept me … I hope they excuse me because of how young and ignorant I was.
“I can tell them that now I have changed, now I am a mother, I have none of the ideology and hopefully everyone will see it when I get back.”
She said she wanted to undergo a process back in the US to help her rehabilitate.
“Maybe (I could undergo) therapy lessons, maybe a process that will ensure us that we’ll never do this again,” she said.
Explaining that she’d like to return to the US with her son, who is 18 months old, she said the war zone lifestyle enjoyed by an IS bride became difficult to endure.
After giving birth to her son she said a new “instinct” kicked in that made her less able to tolerate the violence and bloodshed.
“We would see dead bodies in public, limbs splattered on the floor … when (my son) was born I wanted to leave because I had a new motherhood instinct that I didn’t have before,” she said.
Ms Hudana had been living in the town of Sousa before she was captured and moved to the refugee camp. The town had run out of food and the people had begun to starve and resorted to eating grass.
“There was nothing in the market, nothing in the shops … We just plucked grass from around our houses and fried it.
“Seeing my son eat grass, that was my last day.”
While Ms Muthana was born in the US, the propagandist has been rejected for re-entry to the country, according to a statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The statement comes after President Donald Trump tweeted that he had instructed the Mr Pompeo not to allow Ms Muthana to return to the US.
I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019
“Hoda Muthana is not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday.
“She does not have any legal basis, no valid US passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States,” Mr Pompeo said. “We continue to strongly advise all US citizens not to travel to Syria.”
Previously, the State Department had commented on her case, saying it was “complicated”.
“We’re looking into these cases to better understand the details,” State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said.
The status of US citizens held in Syria was “by definition extremely complicated”, he added.