WASHINGTON – The struggle continues for an Alabama woman who left the country to join ISIS and now wants to return to the USA.
The Hoda Muthana case has been full of questions like since her passport has been revoked, is she actually a citizen of the United States, why does she want to return, and others.
All of these questions are up for debate this week in a federal courtroom.
“Within these camps are ISIS fighters,” says Charlie Swift, lawyer for the Muthana family, when describing the Syrian refugee camp where Muthana and her 18-month-old son are staying.
Her family’s lawyer says their lives are being threatened for renouncing the group she once supported.
“She’s now a heretic. She’s not a Muslim and should be executed,” Swift explains.
But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Muthana’s problems are the result of her own actions, including calls for attacks on American troops.
“She asked that they be killed by ISIS. That’s not right and President Trump is determined to make sure that she never comes back to the United States,” Pompeo says.
The issue for the court is whether Muthana is a U.S. citizen.
“This woman is not a citizen of the United States. She has no claim to citizenship. In fact, she is a terrorist,” continues Pompeo.
“She is in fact a citizen and the law will show that,” counters Swift.
But before the judge gets to the major issues in this case, he first had to decide whether the case should be fast tracked.
During a Monday hearing in Federal Court, Judge Reggie Walton sided with the government. The case will now move forward on a regular schedule.
Muthana’s father was a foreign diplomat when she was born in New Jersey, exempting her from birthright citizenship.
Swift says Muthana was born after her father’s service ended.
“Loss of citizenship is not a punishment,” Swift says.
If Swift can get the judge to agree, he hopes to secure Muthana’s return to the U.S. where he acknowledges she will almost certainly be prosecuted.