“I hope America doesn’t think I’m a threat to them,” Hoda Muthana tells ABC News in her first on-camera interview. What would have given us that idea? The fact that she ran off to join ISIS five years ago and only now is coming back after their collapse? Or her Twitter campaign urging Muslims in the US to “Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood”?
Muthana thinks she might deserve some punishment, but that it should be in the form of counseling. “Jail time,” Muthana says, “has a worse effect on people.” Hence why it’s a bad idea to go join terrorists and foment attacks on your own country, as I noted last night:
"I hope America doesn't think I'm a threat to them and I hope they can accept me."
24-year-old American Hoda Muthana describes to @jamesaalongman her decision to join ISIS in Syria and whether she expects punishment if she is able to return to the U.S. https://t.co/bCIrBugNmM pic.twitter.com/7WLT4rCXR7
— ABC News (@ABC) February 20, 2019
She told ABC News she felt shame hearing of the tweets she posted when she was part of ISIS.
“I was still at the peak of being brainwashed I guess and I had people all around me that were just widowed so we were very angry … because we were all just young girls married for the first time — most of us it was our first relationships — and then he just suddenly died,” she said. “I can’t even believe I thought of that.” …
She expressed remorse and regret about her social media posts inciting violence in the name of Islam and ISIS.
“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 and I’m just a normal human being who’s been manipulated once and hopefully never again,” she said.
Was Muthana manipulated? Surely. This looks like manipulation in return, however. Muthana wants to play on the sympathies of her countrymen while painting herself as nothing more than an unthinking victim. Recall that Muthana was 19 years old and responsible for her actions at the time of her choice to join ISIS and 20 when she urged violence in the streets of the US. Perhaps she has remorse for her crimes, but they remain crimes, and Muthana has to answer for them.
Earlier today, the UK announced that they would strip Shamima Bagun of her citizenship rather than allow the ISIS bride to re-enter the country. That option isn’t available to the US even if we were inclined to follow suit, as Andy McCarthy explains in today’s New York Post:
A person who is an American citizen by birth may not have that citizenship revoked without her consent. In its 1973 Afroyim v. Rusk decision, the Supreme Court reasoned that the Constitution does not grant Congress the power to strip an American of citizenship because, in our system, the people are sovereign — the government serves us, it is not the source of our citizenship.
I think this is ill-considered. Citizenship implies obligations of fealty as well as benefits. Traitorous acts should be construed as renouncing those obligations, and thus renouncing citizenship itself.
Moreover, there are situations in which the power of government to revoke citizenship is recognized. Granted, these involve naturalized citizens who procure citizenship by fraud. But a section of our immigration law permits revocation if a naturalized citizen joins a subversive organization within five years of becoming a citizen. The legalistic theory is that this is a form of fraud: You can’t have taken the oath of citizenship seriously if, so soon after being naturalized, you’ve joined such a group — e.g., al Qaeda. But the more salient point, I believe, is that you have renounced the obligations of citizenship; it should not matter if you are a born or a naturalized American if you make war against America.
Alas, that is not how the law is interpreted. Muthana will be permitted re-entry into our country. She should be prosecuted for treason and terrorism offenses. Indeed, the Justice Department should indict her now, so that she has fair notice of what she faces if she chooses to return.
Indeed, that would be fair play. And it might have a salutary effect of keeping Muthana from re-entering the country she blithely betrayed, and the country she thinks owes her a few counseling sessions for her moral treason and actual terrorism.
Update: No wonder she’s asking to come to the US. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says she’s not a US citizen after all:
#NEW #breaking @SecPompeo on American #ISISBride:
"Ms. #HodaMuthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the U.S. She does not have any legal basis, no valid passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the U.S."
— Kevin Corke (@kevincorke) February 20, 2019
Muthana was born in the US, Corke explains further, but to parents here on a diplomatic mission. That negates “birthright citizenship,” so … Muthana will have to go back to Yemen. American prison might have been a better choice, but at any rate she won’t have a choice at all. Her family insists that she is a US citizen:
NEW: "The Trump administration continues its attempts to wrongfully strip citizens of their citizenship," Muthana family's attorney tells @ABC News.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 20, 2019
The court fight on this should be … interesting.