President Donald Trump says he instructed Mike Pompeo not to allow Hoda Muthana, a woman who joined Daesh and later regretted it, from returning to the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Muthana is not a citizen.

US President Donald Trump (R) says US-born Hoda Muthana (L), who left to join Daesh in Syria, cannot return home.
US President Donald Trump (R) says US-born Hoda Muthana (L), who left to join Daesh in Syria, cannot return home. (Collage: AP/AFP)

US President Donald Trump is taking credit for the Department of State’s announcement Wednesday that an Alabama woman who joined Daesh in Syria will not be allowed to re-enter the US, after announcing that she regretted joining the group.

"I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!" Trump tweeted.

Muthana is now in a refugee camp in Syria with her toddler and says she made a mistake in joining the group.

The United States said Wednesday she is not a citizen. Her lawyer is challenging that claim.

In a brief statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave no details as to how the administration made their determination.

"Ms Hoda Muthana is not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the United States," he said. "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."

But Hassan Shibly, a lawyer for the woman, insisted Muthana was born in the United States and had a valid passport before she joined the Islamic State in 2014. He says she has renounced the terrorist group and wants to come home to protect her 18-month-old son regardless of the legal consequences.

"She's an American. Americans break the law," said Shibly, a lawyer with the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "When people break the law, we have a legal system to handle those kinds of situations to hold people accountable, and that's all she's asking for."

Her lawyer says the administration’s position is based on a “complicated” interpretation of immigration law.

Shibly said that the administration argues that she didn't qualify for citizenship because her father was a Yemeni diplomat. But the lawyer said her father had not had diplomatic status "for months" before her birth in Hackensack, New Jersey.

He released a copy of the woman's birth certificate, issued two months after her birth in October 1994, to support his claim.

Most people born in the United States are accorded so-called birthright citizenship, but there are exceptions. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a person born in the US to an accredited foreign diplomatic officer is not subject to US law and is not automatically considered a US citizen at birth.

However, Muthana's case is unusual, if not unprecedented in that she once held a US passport. Passports are only issued to citizens by birth or naturalization, according to Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, who has studied the phenomenon of foreign Daesh fighters and families.

The announcement on Muthana came a day after Britain said that it was stripping the citizenship of Shamima Begum, a 19-year-old who left the country in 2015 with two friends to Daesh and recently gave birth in a refugee camp.

It also comes as the US has urged allies to back citizens who joined Daesh but are now in the custody of the American-backed forces fighting the remnants of the terror group that once controlled a vast area spanning parts of Syria and Iraq.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies