Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press

Justice Dept argues Alabama 'ISIS' bride not a US citizen

March 04, 2019 - 12:32 pm

By Ben Krimmel

The Department of Justice argues American-born ISIS Bride, Hoda Muthana, is not a U.S. citizen according to documents filed in federal court on Monday.

In a response to a February lawsuit filed by her father, the Justice Department supports the State Department’s argument that Muthana is not a citizen because she was born to parents who enjoyed diplomatic-agent-level immunity.

“Muthana is not and has never been a U.S. citizen and her son likewise is not a U.S. citizen,” prosecutors wrote. “She was born to parents who enjoyed diplomatic-agent-level immunity at that time of her birth, so she was born not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and did not and could not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.”

Muthana, 24, was born New Jersey but left the United States in 2014 when she was 19 to join ISIS in Syria.

Her case gained national attention after President Donald Trump instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to allow her back into the U.S. via Twitter.

"Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States," Pompeo said in February. "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." 

In an interview with CBS News’ Charlie D'Agata from Northern Syria, Muthana fired back at the President.

"I would tell him to study the legal system, because apparently I am allowed back. I have papers. I have citizenship," she said. 

The Justice Department argues the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of birthright citizenship does not apply in her case because of her parent’s status. “The Supreme Court has long held that the phrase ‘subject to the jurisdiction’ excludes children of foreign ministers or diplomatic officers born within the United States from operation of the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment," according to the court filings. 

Her father, Ahmed Ali Muthana, was a former diplomat at the United Nations for Yemen. Hassan Shibly, an attorney for the family, told Connecting Vets the government’s claim Muthana is not a citizen is wrong given she was born on U.S. soil in October 1994, after her father gave up diplomatic immunity. 

The DOJ disputes Shibly’s timeline. 

“Settled law applied to the relevant events clearly demonstrates that (Ahmed Ali Muthana) enjoyed diplomatic-agent-level-immunity until February 6, 1995—after Muthana’s birth,” prosecutors claim.

RELATED: 'It’s about the Rule of Law,' says lawyer for ISIS bride

Additionally, the Department of Justice argues she was told of her status years ago after she had already joined ISIS.

“Muthana was advised that she was not a U.S. citizen over three years ago—in January 2016—but she did not challenge that determination then and her father has waited until now to challenge it and to seek expedited treatment,” Monday’s court filing read.

While in Syria, Muthana married two ISIS militants and had a child with one of them. Both men died in combat. The fate of her child is also the matter of dispute, with the Justice Department arguing the child does not enjoy citizenship protections either. 

RELATED: Family of ISIS bride files federal lawsuit against Trump

The DOJ argues she would have understood the government’s ruling of her citizenship status when she gave birth to a son abroad making her child a non-citizen as well. 

Shibly released a letter Muthana wrote in which she admits she made "a big mistake" by rejecting her family in the United States to join the Islamic State. "During my years in Syria I would see and experience a way of life and the terrible effects of war which changed me," she wrote.

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"I ruined my life. I've ruined it," she told CBS News. "I ruined my son's future, but I wouldn't have had a son if I didn't come. That's the only regret I don't have. I want to see him grow up, I want to raise him."

“I wish I could tell the people that… I'm not a threat to America," Muthana said to CBS News. "I hope no one sees me as a threat, and I hope everyone gives me a second chance."

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