Legal experts have said an American ISIS bride, who left the country to join the terrorist outfit and is now begging to be allowed to return, could face a decades of prison sentence if she gets her wish.
In 2014, Hoda Muthana, 24, left Hoover, Alabama to join the Islamic State and tweeted several calls for American Muslims to launch terror attacks on Memorial Day, Daily Mail reports.
Now, Muthana, curently at the al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria, admits it was a "huge mistake" running away to join IS and wants to come back home. However, even if she somehow manages to return to the US, she could be sentenced to 60 years in prison, legal experts say.
In a conversation with the New York Post, New York defense lawyer Michael Bachrach said that Muthana "can certainly be charged with attempted material support of terrorism, material support of terrorism, as well as a conspiracy count," adding that "with each count, it could be a 15- to 20-year max, which could run consecutively."
Bachrach had helped represent the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in a civilian court.
Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard law professor, asserted that it would be "risky" for Muthana to come back to the US. Furthermore, New York lawyer Jeffrey Hoffman said she could also face a charge of inciting a riot for her tweets calling for Memorial Day attacks.
That said, Muthana is unlikely to lose her American citizenship despite joining the terrorist group, both Hoffman and Bachrach agreed. They said she has the right to a fair trial in civilian court without facing a military tribunal.
“At least to date, the tribunals have only been used to gain jurisdiction over non-US citizens,” he said. “I don’t know of any legal basis of depriving natural-born citizens of a trial in a traditional federal court. Even if the current administration attempted to send her to a military commission, there would be an extensive lawsuit that would prevent it."
Hassan Shibly, Muthana's lawyer, said she “still considers herself American” and “fully understands the legal risks she has in coming back," adding that “if there are consequences, she’s willing to face those consequences."
Muthana left the US when she was 19 and headed to Raqqa, Syria, before marrying three ISIS militants, two of whom died fighting the US-led coalition offensive. After being forced to flee the terror outfit's last stronghold in southeastern Syria, she is now living in the sordid al-Hawl refugee camp with her young son Adam, from her second marriage.
While in Raqqa, the jihadi bride would often use social media to call for terror attacks in the US and spread hatred against non-Muslims. "You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping!" she wrote in a 2015 tweet.
"Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriot, Memorial etc Day parades..go on drive by's + spill all of their blood or rent a big truck n drive all over them. Kill them. [sic]"
Muthana recently told The Guardian she "deeply regrets" leaving America and claims she was blinded by her faith. "I thought I was doing things correctly for the sake of God," she said, adding that she "misunderstood" her faith. "I was really young and ignorant and I was 19 when I decided to leave," she added.