Hoda Muthana, 24, wanted to join Daesh, also known as ISIS, in 2014. She acted on her desires, too, by helping the group spread its message online, marrying two Daesh militants and having a child with one of them. But legal representatives for Muthana now say she wants to come back to the US and voluntarily face prosecution, USA Today reports.
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What exactly she would be prosecuted for is not entirely obvious, though legal analysts have suggested providing material support for terrorists could be one of the charges she'd face if she does return to the US.
"How can we fairly evaluate someone when we do not know what they did or why? The Caliphate was a black box," Max Abrahms, author of "Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History" and a political science professor at Northeastern University, told Sputnik News.
The USA Today report states that Muthana is "one of 1,500 foreign women and children — the spouses and children of Islamic State militants — held in a Kurdish-run detention camp." The Associated Press offers a conflicting account, writing that the mother and child are in a "refugee camp."
Muthana's legal representatives say that she is willing to face the US justice system, even after calling for Daesh to attack US citizens, the USA Today report says.
The US government "needs to engage with her, but not just her; all of these people who joined ISIS" from the West, Hassan Shibly, a lawyer for the Muthana family, told USA Today.
"If she broke the law, then the justice system can deal with her, and if she didn't break the law, she should come back anyway, so it can be determined if she is a threat," Shibly advocated. Shibly is also the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations' Florida branch.
Abrahms urged caution. "I am particularly concerned that some ISIS returnees will walk and then launch attacks in the West. This is a disaster waiting to happen."
After marrying two Daesh fighters — both of whom have reportedly died, and one of whom was the father of Muthana's 18-month-old baby — the widow says she has had a change of heart. She claims she was "naïve, angry and arrogant" when she ventured off to Syria at age 19, according a letter shared by her attorney with media outlets.
"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. "Seeing bloodshed up close changed me. Motherhood changed me. Seeing friends, children and the men I married dying changed me. Seeing how different a society could be compared to the beloved America I was born and raised into changed me."
"To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly," she wrote in the letter.
Shibly says the US government will have to request that Muthana be released from the camp she's living in currently.
That's not going to happen, however. "Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the US. She does not have any legal basis, no valid passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the US," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"We strongly advise all US citizens not to travel to Syria."
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Muthana says she has not been in contact with US authorities, and her attorney said that the FBI was not particularly interested in rescuing her from the camp in exchange for intelligence that might be useful for American forces.
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