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'Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance'
Hoda Muthana fled her home in Alabama five years ago to join ISIS, burning her U.S. passport and proclaiming allegiance to the caliphate. She amassed a notable social media following, where she encouraged followers to massacre Americans. She even married three ISIS fighters and bore one of them a son.
Now, Muthana wants to return home.
Speaking with NBC News from a refugee camp in Syria, Muthana said she "deserves" a second chance at American life, explaining she wants to reconnect with her family.
"Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were," she said. "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."
Muthana claims she now rejects the extreme rhetoric used by the Islamic State and other Islamic terrorist groups and told NBC News that she "regrets every single thing" she said. But regret alone will likely not be enough to earn her re-entry into the U.S.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the direction of President Donald Trump, has said Muthana will not be allowed to return to the U.S.
"She's a terrorist," Pompeo said in February.
However, Muthana's case is extremely complicated.
At issue is whether or not Muthana is a legitimate U.S. citizen. She was born in New Jersey in 1994 and was issued an American passport. But the Obama administration argued in 2016, while revoking her U.S. passport for joining ISIS, that she should have never been issued the passport or citizenship. The government argued that Muthana was born in the U.S while her Yemeni father continued to serve Yemen as a diplomat. Children of foreign diplomats are not eligible for birthright citizenship.
She is the youngest of five children and the only one to be born in the U.S. Her family moved to Alabama where she lived until she fled to join ISIS in 2014. The rest of her family are naturalized U.S. citizens and remain in the U.S.
Charlie Swift, the attorney representing Muthana's family, told NBC there are zero questions about the legitimacy of Muthana's American citizenship.
"If you're issued a passport, you're a citizen. The only way citizenship can be revoked is by clear evidence in a proceeding," he said. "That has not happened."
In fact, Muthana's father, Ahmed Ali Muthana — who was allowed to stay in the U.S. after his work for Yemen and was subsequently naturalized as a U.S. citizen — has sued the U.S. government, arguing his work for Yemen ended months before Muthana's birth.
The legal action has not yet been decided. But Muthana told NBC she is prepared to face the legal consequences of her actions — she just wants to return to the safety of the U.S.
"They can watch over me 24/7, I'd be OK with that," she said.
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Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News