In the absence of a life sentence or capital punishment, native-born Americans like Lindh seem all but certain to walk the streets in the U.S. again after serving their sentences, even if they’re unrepentant. But naturalized citizens like the Pakistani-born Faris are at risk of being deported over their allegiance to al-Qaida.

“The Supreme Court has said there’s no excommunication when it comes to citizenship,” said Case Western Reserve University law professor Andra Robertson. “There’s only two ways to lose your citizenship: one is when a person voluntarily gives it up and two is when there’s some fraud or illegality in its procurement … If you’re a native-born citizen, obviously you didn’t commit fraud to get your citizenship, so only a naturalized citizen can lose their citizenship involuntarily.”