Father of Ex-IS Member Fights for Her Return to US

(CN) – An Alabama man whose daughter joined the Islamic State terrorist group and now wants to return to America filed a federal lawsuit Thursday night challenging the Trump administration’s determination that she is not a U.S. citizen.  

This undated image provided by attorney Hassan Shibly shows Hoda Muthana, an Alabama woman who left home to join the Islamic State after becoming radicalized online. (Hoda Muthana/Attorney Hassan Shibly via AP)

Ahmed Ali Muthana’s 32-page complaint asks a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to order the government to “facilitate the return of its citizens, Hoda Muthana and her son minor John Doe, in conformity with their legal rights to return both under United States law and applicable international law.”

He is also asking the court to rule that he is able to send money, without being criminally charged for supporting a terrorist organization, to his daughter and grandson, who is under the age of 2, so they can survive and travel.

After withdrawing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in November 2014, Muthanam now 24, used her reimbursed tuition to fly to Turkey and then travel into Syria. She told her parents she was going on a field trip to Atlanta.

She joined the Islamic State group, also called ISIS, and eventually married three fighters.

In December, Muthana and her son fled from ISIS-controlled territory, according to the lawsuit, and she has said she is willing to “surrender to United States authorities for any contemplated charges.”

The complaint adds that Muthana wants to make sure her toddler son is safe.

The lawsuit names as defendants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr in their official capacities.

On Wednesday, Pompeo issued a statement that Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and would not be allowed to return to the U.S. 

“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,” Pompeo said.

According to the complaint, the statement was the first time the Trump administration made a determination about Muthana’s citizenship – it did not approach the courts to revoke it.

Trump said in a tweet Wednesday he had instructed Pompeo to prevent Muthana’s return.

“The decision by the Secretary of the Department of State and President Trump to unilaterally declare Hoda Muthana no longer a citizen of the United States is unconstitutional, and therefore impermissible,” the lawsuit states.

Muthana’s father is represented by Charles Swift and Christina Jump with the Texas-based Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America.

While he was a diplomat for the United Nations before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, Muthana’s mother had permanent resident status when she was born on Oct. 28, 1994, according to the complaint.

In 2005, the State Department issued Muthana a U.S. passport after it received a letter from the United States Mission to the United Nations saying her father did not have diplomatic status at the time of her birth.

“In this case, the United States has recognized Ms. Muthana to be a United States citizen by birthright since 2005,” the complaint states. “That recognition cannot be withdrawn, if at all, without affording Ms. Muthana the due process of law in a federal court, which protects the rights guaranteed in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.”

In January 2016, the Obama administration’s State Department revoked Muthana’s passport, saying she was not a U.S. citizen because her father had diplomatic immunity at the time of her birth.

The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.

In a statement, the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America said Muthana does not want to ruin the life of her son, even though she “recognizes that she has ‘ruined’ her own life.”

“Should the court agree with the plaintiff, Ms. Muthana’s son will be recognized as an American citizen, and afforded the opportunity to grow up in the greatest country in the world,” the group said. “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.”

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