Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism- ‘I was physically abused and I needed some reason to leave,’ said Hoda Muthana in an interview.
She is now being detained in Syria after the U.S. denied her re-entry
An American woman who fled the United States to join terrorist organization ISIS when she was 20 years old still fears for her life and deeply regrets the decision.
“I as well am a victim of ISIS. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear that,” Hoda Muthana told The News Movement.
She said: “I was physically abused and I needed some reason to leave”
After four years and three marriages — each time a husband died or was killed she had to remarry — she left ISIS with her young son. They are currently being held in Roj detention camp in Syria by U.S.-allied Kurdish forces.
“It’s basically like the same day on repeat for four years. The only different thing is your child is growing,” she said about living in Roj camp. “It still is a little scary here as well because there are still women who support ISIS and they do report everything to ISIS.”
Muthana was born in New Jersey to Yemeni immigrants and once had a U.S. passport. She was raised in a conservative Muslim household in Hoover, Alabama, just outside Birmingham. In 2014, she told her family she was going on a school trip but flew to Turkey and crossed into Syria instead, funding the travel with tuition cheques that she had secretly cashed.
Muthana was first introduced to ISIS online by traffickers, whom she described as “younger people” around 21- or 22-years old.
They like to attract younger women as well, younger women who are vulnerable and didn’t know the religion well themself
“We just had normal conversations and it turned out to be them persuading you that you have to come here,” she said. “People that were trafficked there became traffickers. They like to attract younger women as well, younger women who are vulnerable and didn’t know the religion well themself.”
“They didn’t say they were against the whole world…that they wanted to do suicide attacks everywhere,” she said.
When Muthana arrived in Syria, she was taken to a “women’s guest house,” where about 100 women were kept with double the amount of children in a cramped space. It was filthy, she said, and none of them were allowed to leave unless they got married.
Social media posts by Muthana surfaced shortly after she arrived there, Buzzfeed News reported in 2019. The outlet called the posts “horrifying.”
However, she told The News Movement that her phone was taken from her upon arrival and that the posts were not written by her.
A federal judge ruled on Thursday that 25-year-old Hoda Muthana, who is currently in a refugee camp in Syria with her 2-year-old son, is not an American citizen and cannot return to the United States.
The Obama administration cancelled her citizenship in 2016, saying her father was an accredited Yemeni diplomat at the time she was born — a rare revocation of birthright citizenship. Her lawyers have disputed that move, arguing that the father’s diplomatic accreditation ended before she was born.
To the victims of ISIS, Muthana said she doesn’t want them to think she agrees with the pain and suffering they went through.
“I stand with them. I don’t stand with ISIS,” she said. “Of course I regret coming here. If I could take it back I would do it in a heartbeat. I’ve never agreed with the ideology of ISIS and I never sympathized with their attacks, with their agendas.”