Federal judge says ex-ISIS fighter Huda Muthana is not US citizen making Trump admin stance legit
New Jersey-born Muthana left the US to join the Islamic State in 2014. Before becoming 'disillusioned', she was a hardliner who urged American Muslims to kill citizens through shootings and vehicular hits.
The Donald Trump administration has already made its stand on Huda Muthana clear earlier. It considers the 25-year-old woman who was born in New Jersey and raised in Alabama and left the country to join the Islamic State (IS) too big a threat to her home country to return. And now, a federal judge said that Muthana is not an American citizen and has no right to make a comeback.
On Wednesday, judge Reggie Walton ruled that there was enough proof that Muthana was born when her father Ahmed Ali Muthana, who had once represented Yemen in the United Nations, still held diplomatic status in America, BuzzFeed News reported. Under federal regulations and international law, children of foreign diplomats born in the US are not subject to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution that guarantees birthright citizenship because of their birth under the jurisdiction of another state.
According to the 70-year-old judge, Muthana’s father could not give any financial support to either his daughter and two-year-old grandson named Adam who was born in the IS-held territory and has never met his grandfather.
When contacted over the case by BuzzFeed, Muthana’s lawyer Christina Jump said while they would wait for Walton’s further order, there was “likely a basis” to appeal against the decision and look for ways to help the child.
Muthana, who studied at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, left the American shores for Syria in November 2014 and lived under the control of the IS till escaping to a Kurdish refugee camp last year. Adam was born to her from her second marriage which was to a Tunisian IS fighter.
During her days with the IS, Muthana was one of the most militant members on the terror outfit’s Twitter handle. She had urged American Muslims to kill citizens through shootings and vehicular hits and even wanted former President Barack Obama assassinated.
Muthana had also lauded the terror attack on the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in France in January 2015 in which 12 people were killed.
In February this year, Muthana’s stand took a 180-degree turn. Speaking with the Guardian exclusively, she deeply regretted her act of joining the IS and claimed that she was brainwashed. She wanted to return to the US with her son, even if that meant she had to face criminal charges.
"I was really young and ignorant. 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”, she said.
No second chance in Trump's America
But Trump’s America is not ready to give that second chance. Following noisy media coverage of Muthana and her son in the Kurdish-controlled al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria, the state department said Muthana was not an American citizen. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement in February that Muthana did not have any legal basis to return to America. He also denied that she had a legal passport. President Trump tweeted soon after, endorsing Pompeo’s view and said Muthana was not going to be allowed back on American soil.
Muthana though disagrees. In an interview to NBC earlier this month, she said she is an American citizen and I have papers to prove it. She also said that she is as American as a blond-haired blue-eyed girl and would like to stay in her country and do things that are American.
Muthana's father a key character in the case
Muthana’s father swung into action the very next day and filed a lawsuit against the government in a federal court on behalf of his daughter and grandson. Ahmed plays as important a character in the case as the question over Muthana’s citizenship is centered on whether the former was a diplomat when she was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, in October 1994.
There is no clarity over Ahmed’s tenure. As per the court documents, he had served as the first secretary with the Yemeni Mission to the UN between October 1990 till he was fired in either June or September 1994. Although it’s not debated that Ahmed had been removed before his daughters’ birth but whether he had notified the UN and that in turn the US that he had been sacked before Muthana was born remains the million-dollar question.
As per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, it is the notification that formally puts an end to the functioning of a diplomatic agent and as per the submitted documents by the government, Ahmed’s notification to the UN came only in February 1995 by when Muthana was a few months old.
Judge's office received threats
Walton, during giving his verdict, sympathized with the Muthanas but added that his decision will not change. He even said that his office had received communications numbering 6,000 or more about the Muthana case. Most of those messages were hate-filled and many even threatened that there would be consequences if the judge gave his ruling in favor of the woman, BuzzFeed added. The judge also said that the court was not intimidated by the threats.