Is Hoda Muthana a US citizen, and does the Trump administration have to allow the ISIS bride and Twitter terrorist to return? Muthana’s father has filed a lawsuit to force the administration to restore her passport, but it turns out that the Trump administration didn’t cancel it. That action was taken three years ago:

The father of an Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State in Syria filed suit against the Trump administration Thursday in an effort to allow her return to the United States.

Ahmed Ali Muthana argues in the suit filed in federal court in Washington that his 24-year-old daughter, Hoda Muthana, is an American citizen by birth and should be allowed to come back to the U.S. with her toddler son. …

The Obama administration initially determined she was not a citizen and notified her family that it was revoking her passport in January 2016.

So they’ve had three years’ notice that Muthana would not be allowed to re-enter the US. She came to the attention of the Obama administration after Muthana joined ISIS, but also when she started using Twitter in 2015 to urge Muslims in the US to conduct murders, drive-by shootings, and mayhem. Counterterrorism officials must have reviewed her record at that time and discovered the error in assuming her citizenship.

Perhaps it’s understandable that the family didn’t take immediate action to challenge the revocation of her passport at that time. What was the point if Muthana planned to stay in ISIS? Three years later, the “caliphate” she blithely chose to support along with its aims of destroying America has collapsed, and suddenly Muthana wants a do-over. Now her family wants to bring her home, which is understandable from their point of view, but a little late nonetheless in defending Muthana’s status.

Muthana’s family can count on the media to provide sympathetic coverage, especially if they paint this as an action by Donald Trump and his administration. That strategy is already off to a good start with ABC News’ gauzy interview of Muthana and the focus on ISIS brides in general as victims adrift in a chaotic collapse. This bizarre headline from Agence France-Presse gives a pretty good flavor of the approach most media outlets have given this issue.

What’s the point of AFP’s headline? It must be news to AFP that the US government takes an interest when its residents join terrorist groups and urge the mass murder of Americans. Why frame it with the lead-in of Hoda Muthana being “a shy, studious teenager,” as if that has anything to do with the crimes she committed? Muthana was 19 when she slipped out of the US to join ISIS and 20 when she began fomenting terror on social media. Nor is any of this “sudden.” Muthana has been on the counterterrorism radar since 2015, and her attempt to re-enter the US should be getting attention at high levels, especially with the high-level media strategy her family has employed to get her back in the US.

Still, the lawsuit may not be without merit, as Allahpundit noted yesterday, media spin or no.  If the Obama administration got it wrong in 2016, she’ll have to be allowed to return. Andrew McCarthy has a good suggestion as to how to solve the whole mess — have the Department of Justice indict her now, and see just how keen the family is to press the matter:

As the secretary put it in his statement, “Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.”

This conclusion is disputed by Muthana’s family and allies, and they may have a case. I would strongly urge the Justice Department to file an indictment against Muthana for treason, material support to terrorism, and any other readily provable offenses. She is less likely to press the issues of citizenship and right to enter if she understands that she faces prosecution and, very likely, lengthy imprisonment if she succeeds in coming here. …

If the president and the secretary do not want Muthana to try to come back to the United States, the best strategy is to have the Justice Department indict her on serious felony charges. She may seek another alternative if she knows the risk of coming back here is decades of imprisonment. Of course, Muthana may decide to come anyway. After all, (a) she might see life in an American prison as better than her other alternatives, and (b) if she is an American citizen, there is a good argument that her young son is a citizen, too — he’d have a more promising chance of survival and a decent life here than in Syria (or wherever else in that godforsaken region they could end up).

There is an element of fairness in this as well. The government has taken a prosecutorial interest in Muthana for four years. If the DoJ plans to indict her, that’s something that should be known before she travels back into their jurisdiction. At the very least, it would provide an informed choice … and might save everyone a lot of time and money in court.