Image source: ABC News video screenshot
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The former Alabama resident says she is no threat to her homeland
Former Alabama resident and thrice-wed ISIS bride Hoda Muthana is currently in a refugee camp in northern Syria, after fleeing the U.S. to join the Islamic terrorist organization in November 2014. During her tenure with ISIS, she posted on social media calling for the spilling of American blood in the streets.
Now, Muthana is begging to return home to the United States, asking for a second chance, and saying she isn't a threat to her homeland.
What are the details?
When she was 19 years old, Muthana left her home in Hoover, Alabama, to join the Islamic State in Syria after becoming radicalized online. Once there, she married an ISIS terrorist and adopted the name Umm Jihad, which translates to "Mother of Jihad," according to the New York Times.
Muthana became an ISIS recruiter, praised the killings of innocent civilians by the Mujahidin and posted on social media urging her fellow Americans to carry out attacks on U.S. soil. Her first two jihadist husbands were "martyred" while fighting, and she married a third ISIS militant whom she later divorced.
As the U.S. and allied forces continue to squeeze ISIS out of Syria, Muthana finds herself and her 18-month-old son in a refugee camp after she left the crumbling caliphate weeks ago and surrendered to Kurdish forces. Speaking to The Guardian from the camp in northern Syria, Muthana, 24, says she regrets leaving America as a "young and ignorant" teenager and wants a second chance from the U.S. in order to return home for good.
Hassan Shibly, the attorney representing Muthana, told ABC News that his client is a victim, saying, "This is a young, vulnerable woman who was brainwashed and manipulated by monsters who took advantage of her."
He added, "Hoda is absolutely disgusted by the person she became while under the spell" of ISIS.
Geopolitical analyst Scott Stewart told Fox News that American-born citizens like Muthana are protected by the 14th Amendment from having their citizenship revoked. According to Stewart, American-born ISIS brides "should be brought home and charged criminally under terrorism, murder or other applicable laws. At the very least they should be charged with material support to a terrorist group."
The U.S. State Department has not commented specifically on Muthana's case, but deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said that ISIS fighters should be returned to their home countries and brought to justice.
"Our policy in this regard would be to repatriate them — and that's what we call on all countries to do who have [ISIS] fighters in Syria," he said Tuesday, the New York Post reported.
Palladino added, "Repatriating these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin, ensuring that they are prosecuted and detained that's the best solution preventing them from returning to the battlefield. We view these fighters as a global threat."
What happens if she's brought back to the US?
If Muthana is brought home, legal experts told the Daily Mail, she could be looking at spending up to 60 years in prison for her participation in terrorism.
Defense attorney Michael Bachrach — who defended the first former Guantanamo Bay detainee tried in civilian court — told the Post that Muthana "can certainly be charged with attempted material support of terrorism, material support of terrorism, as well as a conspiracy count."
"With each count it could be a 15- to 20-year max (sentence), which could run consecutively," he added.
ABC News sat down with Muthana in Syria for her first interview with an American media outlet, and asked her if she thinks she deserves punishment for what she did.
"Maybe therapy lessons," Muthana replied. "Maybe a process that will ensure that I will never do this again."
Muthana said she regrets making social media posts calling for violence against Americans.
"I wish I could take it completely off the Net, completely out of people's memory ... I regret it ... I hope America doesn't think I'm a threat to them and I hope they can accept me," she insisted. "I'm just a normal human being who's been manipulated once and hopefully never again."
In 2015, 19-year-old Colorado woman Shannon Conley was sentenced to four years in prison after admitting she had unsuccessfully attempted to become an ISIS bride and join the terrorist group in the Middle East. The teenager could have been hit with 15 years in jail, according to CNN, but prosecutors and the judge were lenient because she had cooperated with federal authorities.
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