A federal judge has denied a request from a 24-year-old woman who fled the United States to join the Islamic State, arguing that she does not face imminent danger in the Syrian refugee camp where she is currently situated.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled on Tuesday that defense attorneys had failed to show that either Hoda Muthana or her 18-year-month-old child would face “irreparable harm” if the process were not expedited.
“There hasn’t been sufficient evidence shown to me,” Walton said, adding that the case will now “adhere to the normal flow of litigation.”
Speaking outside the courthouse, Muthana’s attorney Charles Swift told reporters that he is “disappointed but understand[s] the judge’s ruling.”
“We’re certainly concerned about her continued position in the camp and if something changes that would overcome that we will file another request with the court as circumstances warrant,” he said.
Muthana fled her life as a 20-year-old college student in Alabama to join the Islamic State back in 2014 when the caliphate was at its most powerful. On arrival, she was married to a militant and ran a recruitment Twitter account aimed at luring other foreign fighters to join the organization.
Now that the caliphate has all but collapsed, Muthana is fighting a citizenship claim to return to the United States and is willing to accept time in prison. In various interviews, Muthana claims she was brainwashed by propaganda and now deeply regrets her choice to join the organization.
However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated on Monday he feels little sympathy for Walton, adding that allowing Muthana to return to the U.S. poses a risk to American lives.
“This is a woman who went online and tried to kill young men and women of the United States of America,” he said. “She advocated for jihad, for people to drive vans across streets here in the United States and kill Americans. She’s not a U.S. citizen. She has no claim of U.S. citizenship. In fact, she’s a terrorist, and we shouldn’t bring back foreign terrorists to the United States of America.”
“It’s not the right thing to do. President Trump is determined that she will not come back,” he continued. “And we don’t need that kind of risk, and we don’t need people like her who threatened the lives of Americans and Iowans coming back to the United States who aren’t citizens.”