Father of US-born woman who joined Daesh sues over citizenship

She furtively went to Syria in 2014 when the Daesh group was carrying out a grisly campaign of beheadings and mass rape. (Screengrab/ABC)
Updated 22 February 2019

Father of US-born woman who joined Daesh sues over citizenship

  • Hoda Muthana says that she regrets joining the extremists and is willing to face prosecution in the United States
  • “This is a woman who inflicted enormous risk on American soldiers, on American citizens. She is a terrorist. She’s not coming back,” Pompeo said

WASHINGTON: The father of an Alabama woman who joined the Daesh group in Syria sued Thursday to bring her home after the Trump administration took the extraordinary step of declaring that she was not a US citizen.
Hoda Muthana, 24, says that she regrets joining the extremists and is willing to face prosecution in the United States over her incendiary propaganda on behalf of the ruthless but dwindling group.
A day after President Donald Trump declared on Twitter that he had issued orders to bar her, Muthana’s father filed an emergency lawsuit asking a federal court to affirm that his daughter is a US citizen and let her return along with her toddler son, whose father was a Tunisian militant killed in battle.
The brewing legal battle hinges on the murky timeline of bureaucratic paperwork in 1994 when Muthana was born and her father, Ahmed Ali Muthana, left a position at Yemen’s mission to the United Nations.
The US Constitution grants citizenship to everyone born in the country — with the exception of children of diplomats, as they are not under US jurisdiction.
“Upon her return to the United States, Mr. Muthana’s daughter is prepared and willing to surrender to any charges the United States Justice Department finds appropriate and necessary,” said the lawsuit filed with the US District Court in Washington.
“She simply requires the assistance of her government in facilitating that return for herself and her young son,” it said.

In the lawsuit, Ahmed Ali Ahmed said he was asked by Yemen to surrender his diplomatic identity card on June 2, 1994 as the Arab country descended into one of its civil wars. Hoda Muthana was born in New Jersey on October 28 of that year and the family later settled in Hoover, Alabama, a prosperous suburb of Birmingham.
The State Department initially questioned Hoda Muthana’s right to citizenship when her father sought a passport for her as a child because US records showed he had been a diplomat until February 1995, the lawsuit said.
But it said that the State Department accepted a letter from the US mission to the United Nations that affirmed that he had ended his position before his daughter’s birth and granted her a passport.
The lawsuit said that Hoda Muthana was also entitled to citizenship due to her mother as she became a US permanent resident, anticipating the loss of diplomatic status, in July 1994.
Ahmed Ali Muthana additionally asked for the right to send money to support his daughter and grandson, who are being held by US-allied Kurdish fighters at the forefront of fighting the Daesh militants.
She furtively went to Syria in 2014 when the Daesh group was carrying out a grisly campaign of beheadings and mass rape and turned to social media to praise the killings of Westerners.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was named in the lawsuit along with Trump, in a terse statement Wednesday said that Hoda Muthana was not a citizen.
Pompeo did not outline the legal rationale but in an interview Thursday, asked if the key issue was that her father had been a diplomat, Pompeo said, “That’s right.”
“She may have been born here. She is not a US citizen, nor is she entitled to US citizenship,” Pompeo told NBC television’s “Today” show.
In a separate interview with the Fox Business Network, Pompeo dismissed the “heart-strings” pitch in Muthana’s pleas to return home.
“This is a woman who inflicted enormous risk on American soldiers, on American citizens. She is a terrorist. She’s not coming back,” he said.
It is extremely difficult for the United States to strip a person of citizenship, a step taken by Britain in the case of homegrown militants.
Trump’s order on Muthana came even though he is pushing other Western countries to bring back hundreds of militants to prosecute at home as the United States prepares to withdraw troops from Syria.


Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU’s Juncker

Updated 16 September 2019

Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU’s Juncker

  • Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union

LUXEMBOURG: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker for talks Monday insisting a Brexit deal is possible, despite deep skepticism from European capitals with just six weeks to go before departure day.
After a weekend in which he compared himself to comic book super-smasher Hulk, the British leader will enjoy a genteel working lunch of snails and salmon in Luxembourg with the EU Commission president.
Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union before an October 17 EU summit.
A UK spokesman said Johnson would tell Juncker that “progress has been made, given that before the summer recess many said reopening talks would not be possible.
“The UK needs to enact the referendum result and avoid another delay; the UK wants to deliver Brexit and move on to other priorities, and EU member states’ leaders want to renegotiate an orderly Brexit.”
But Brussels has played down talk of a breakthrough, insisting Johnson has yet to suggest any “legally operable” proposal to revise a previous withdrawal accord.
As he shook hands with Johnson, Juncker declared himself “cautiously optimistic” and insisted that “Europe never loses patience” despite the tortuous Brexit saga dragging on over three years.
Finland’s European affairs minister, Tytti Tuppurainen, who was chairing an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels, gave a more downbeat assessment, repeating the bloc’s long-standing complaint that London has simply not come up with detailed ideas for replacing the so-called “Irish backstop” section of the divorce deal.
“The European Union is always ready to negotiate when a proper proposal from the UK side is presented,” Tuppurainen said.
“So far I haven’t seen any proposal that would compensate the backstop.”
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who joined the leaders for their talks in Juncker’s native Grand Duchy, said last week he has “no reason to be optimistic.”
The European Parliament will this week vote on a resolution rejecting Johnson’s demand that the backstop clause be stripped from the deal.
Johnson insists this measure, which temporarily keeps the UK in the EU customs union, has to go if he is to bring the agreement back to the House of Commons.
But the accord will also have to win the support of the other 27 EU leaders and the European Parliament if Britain is not to crash out with no deal on October 31 — a scenario that businesses warn would bring economic chaos.
Johnson, in turn, boasts that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask his European counterparts to postpone Brexit for a third time.
“Be in no doubt that if we cannot get a deal — the right deal for both sides — then the UK will come out anyway,” Johnson said, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday.
A UK spokesman said that Britain would refuse an extension even if one were offered.
It is difficult, then, to see what might come from the lunch. There is no plan for a joint statement, but Barnier will meet Britain’s Brexit minister Stephen Barclay for separate discussions.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Barclay indicated that any post-Brexit transition period could be extended past 2020 in order to resolve issues with the border.
Johnson, meanwhile, compared himself to Marvel comics hero Hulk, the rampaging mutant alter-ego of a mild-mannered nuclear scientist.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets and he always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be,” Johnson told the Mail on Sunday.
Johnson’s strategy faces resistance at home, where rebel and opposition MPs have passed a law aimed at forcing him to seek a Brexit delay.
Britain’s Supreme Court will rule this week on a bid to overturn Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament and limit time to debate the crisis.
Barnier will address the European Parliament session in Strasbourg on Wednesday as MEPs vote to reaffirm and reinforce the EU Brexit stance — and insist that the backstop must stay.
After his lunch with Juncker, Johnson is due to meet Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. The pair will hold a joint news conference.