US

Woman Who Fled to Syria and Married ISIS Fighters Says US Should Sentence Her to Therapy if She Returns

By Zachary Stieber

A woman who traveled to Syria from Alabama when she was 19 years old and ended up marrying three different ISIS fighters claimed that she should not be sentenced to jail time if she were to re-enter the United States.

Hoda Muthana left the country in 2014 to join ISIS, the Islamist terrorist group.

She later called for Muslims who live in the United States to launch terror attacks. In one missive posted on Twitter in 2015, she wrote: “Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriot, Memorial etc Day parades..go on drive by’s + spill all of their blood or rent a big truck n drive all over them. Kill them.”

Muthana married an Australian jihadi extremist who died in battle before marrying a Tunisian ISIS terrorist who also died in battle. It’s not clear if her third husband, a Syrian jihadi, is still alive.

Muthana, now 24, said recently that she made a mistake by leaving the United States to go to Syria and thinks she should be let back into the country despite her membership in the global terror group.

In her latest interview, Muthana told ABC: “I’m a normal human being who has been manipulated.”

Muthana said that she has given up the extremist ideology perpetrated by ISIS and other radical Muslims and wants to return home to her family.

“I hope America doesn’t think I am a threat to them and I hope they accept me … I hope they excuse me because of how young and ignorant I was,” she said. “I can tell them that now I have changed, now I am a mother, I have none of the ideology and hopefully everyone will see it when I get back.”

When asked what she thinks is an appropriate measure of punishment for joining ISIS and calling for terror attacks on American soil, Muthana said, “Maybe therapy lessons.”

She said that whatever happens, she should not go to jail though she expects she will be sentenced to prison.

“Jail time, I don’t know if that has an effect on people. I need help mentally as well, I don’t have the ideology any more but I am just traumatized by my experience,” she said. “I know that when I do get back I probably will be sentenced to jail for I don’t know how much time.”

Muthana claimed that the reason she left her family to go to ISIS was to live a more “Americanized life.”

“I had a good relationship with my family but I wanted a more Americanized life. I just wanted to go out, I wanted to have, like, friends, go to places. I didn’t get any of that,” she said. “The only way out for me was to … become more religious.”

isis islamic state terrorist militants
Iraqi Shiite fighters from the Popular Mobilization units take off an ISIS flag from an electricity pole during an operation in the desert of Samarra aimed retaking areas from ISIS jihadis on March 3, 2016. (Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

ISIS attempts to spread an extreme mixture of religion and government that includes roving patrols that punish people, usually women, who don’t follow strict rules on when they can go out, with whom they can be seen with, and what they wear.

The United States government hasn’t decided on whether to allow Muthana to re-enter the country.

“I would say that the situation of American citizens or possible American citizens in Syria is by definition extremely complicated, and we’re looking into these cases to better understand the details,” said State Department spokesman Robert Palladino in a press briefing on Feb. 19.

He said that in situations in which American citizens or alleged citizens are part of ISIS but want to re-enter America, “our policy in this regard would be to repatriate them,” but stressed he wasn’t commenting on any specific cases.

“We’ve been clear on this and we’ve spoken on this publicly recently. Repatriating these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin, ensuring that they are prosecuted and detained—that’s the best solution to preventing them from returning to the battlefield,” he added. “We view these fighters as a global threat and we seek global cooperation to resolve that threat.”

A previous version of this article stated that Muthana was an American citizen. NTD regrets the error.