Muthana loses first round in court

Hoda Muthana, the so-called ISIS “teen bride” who left her home in the United States to marry three different terrorists, will be cooling her heels in Syria for a while longer. A federal judge has refused to hear her request to have her case handled on an emergency basis. Given the normal court backlog in such cases, this means that she could be waiting until well into the summer, barring a victory on appeal. (Washington Times)

An Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State has lost the first round in her legal fight to return to the U.S. with her toddler son.

A federal judge in Washington denied a request to consider Hoda Muthana’s case on an emergency basis. That means she won’t be able to immediately leave a refugee camp in Syria and fight her citizenship claim inside the U.S.

But Judge Reggie Walton did say the 24-year-old woman’s lawyer made a “valid argument” for her right to citizenship during a hearing Monday.

It sounds as if Judge Walton was leaving the door open for Muthana’s case to receive a fresh look, but that may not wind up doing her much good. The government has sixty days to prepare a response and they plan to take all of it. After that, the court process begins again. There are also plenty of questions remaining over whether the terrorist bride was ever a citizen to begin with and, if so, whether she should keep that status. And if she does manage to land back in the United States, what should we do with her?

The more we learn about the history surrounding Muthana’s birth, the shakier her claim appears. CNN has a good rundown of what we know thus far. Assuming the timeline is correct, her father stepped down from his post at his country’s mission to the United Nations in New York two weeks before she was born. (The family was living across the river in New Jersey at the time.) But he retained his diplomatic visa. His mother had applied for permanent resident status already, but her application was still pending. In other words, both parents were legally in the country, but only as the family of a diplomat, even if he had resigned his previous position. That wouldn’t give the daughter automatic birthright citizenship because the families of diplomats are not “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Further proof might be inferred from the fact that Hoda Muthana still had a visa and passport up until the age where she fled the country to join ISIS. The State Department sent her a letter in 2016 saying that her passport was revoked, rendering her unable to return to the United States. This happened long before her “regrets” and request to come back.

But since the parents’ status does appear to fall somewhat in a gray area, let’s just say she might have a case. Should you be allowed to retain your citizenship after you run off to join ISIS and promote the death of American soldiers? We’ve revoked the citizenship of plenty of naturalized citizens in the past. These include Rasmi Khader Almallah in 2007, who was found to have engaged in a “green card marriage” and later discovered to be cavorting with Hamas. While the government generally can’t revoke the citizenship of a natural-born citizen against their will, U.S. law recognizes some situations where a “free-will decision” by the individual can be held to constitute a voluntary renunciation of their citizenship. Don’t you suppose that running off to join ISIS, marrying a series of terrorists and chanting “Death to America” would fall into that category?

Personally, I’d rather she stay where she is. But if she does come back, the Justice Department needs to be ready to see just how heavily we can throw the book at her. If she wants to come back and live here she should start off her return tour with a long stretch behind bars.