Family Of Alabama Woman Who Joined ISIS Suing Trump Administration Over Daughter's U.S. Citizenship

Syria ISIS woman American
Refugees flee battles between Syrian Democratic Forces and ISIS fighters near the village of Baghuz, Syria, on January 26. Hoda Muthana, an American woman who traveled to Syria to join ISIS in 2014, is pleading to be allowed to return to the U.S. “I believe that America gives second chances. I want to return, and I’ll never come back to the Middle East. America can take my passport and I wouldn’t mind.” DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

The father of Hoda Muthana, an Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court against President Donald Trump and his administration for blocking Muthana's return to the United States.

Muthana made headlines earlier this week when she begged to return to the U.S. with her 18-month-old son, telling The Guardian that she "deeply regrets" her decision to leave the country at age 19 to join ISIS.

"I was really young and ignorant, and I was 19 when I decided to leave. I believe that America gives second chances," Muthana said. "I want to return, and I'll never come back to the Middle East. America can take my passport and I wouldn't mind."

Muthana's father, Ahmed Ali Muthana, filed the lawsuit in Washington, D.C. It "seeks injunctive relief preventing the United States government from unconstitutionally robbing [Muthana and her son] of their rights as United States citizens," CNN reported.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to decline Hoda Muthana's return to the U.S., saying that Pompeo "fully agrees."

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

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019

In a statement released Wednesday, Pompeo said 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. We continue to strongly advise all U.S. citizens not to travel to Syria."

Ahmed Muthana once served as a Yemeni diplomat but turned in his diplomat card in June 1994, according to Politico. Documents provided by the Muthana family say Hoda Muthana was born in October 1994. At that time, Ahmed Muthana and his wife had been granted permanent resident status, making their daughter a U.S. citizen. U.S. citizenship is not given to foreign diplomats' children who are born in the United States.

Hoda Muthana was issued a U.S. passport as a child, the suit says, and applied for another passport before she left for Syria. Charlie Swift, a lawyer representing Muthana, told The New York Times that Muthana's family was notified that her passport had been revoked after she joined ISIS. Though Ahmed Muthana sent documentation after receiving the letter to prove his nondiplomatic status at the time of Hoda's birth, Swift said the government never replied.

"Citizenship is a core right under the Constitution, and once recognized should not be able to be unilaterally revoked by tweet—no matter how egregious the intervening conduct may be," says a statement from the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, the group representing Ahmed Muthana.

The lawsuit, representing Hoda Muthana and her son, listed as John Doe, was filed against Trump, Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr. According to the suit, Muthana "is prepared and willing to surrender to any charges the United States Justice Department finds appropriate and necessary" if she is allowed to return to the U.S.

A family member provided a handwritten statement from Hoda Muthana to CNN, which reads in part: "To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly."

She went on: "During my years in Syria, I would see and experience a way of life and the terrible effects of war which changed me. Seeing bloodshed up close changed me. Motherhood changed me. Seeing friends, children, and the men I married dying changed me."

Muthana was reportedly married three times during her four years with ISIS. At least two of her husbands were killed. In the statement provided to CNN, she called herself a "naive, angry and arrogant young woman" when she left Alabama for Syria.