American-born ISIS bride who fled to Syria says jihadis wrote tweets to ‘take down’ Barack Obama
An American ISIS bride claims jihadis took her phone and sent tweets inciting attacks on President Obama to make her look bad.
Diplomat’s daughter Hoda Muthana, who was born in New Jersey and grew up in Alabama, travelled to Syria to join ISIS in 2014 aged 20.
In January 2016 the Obama administration revoked her passport and earlier this year the US Supreme Court declined an appeal against that decision.
Hoda Muthana, now 27, is a prisoner alongside other foreign ISIS brides including her friend Briton Shamima Begum at Al-Roj Camp, northeast Syria.
According to Buzzfeed News, Hoda used Twitter under the name ‘Umm Jihad’ and the handle @ZumarulJannah.
On March 19, 2015, that account shared statements encouraging followers in the US to attack parades on national holidays and ‘spill all of their blood or rent a big truck n (sic) drive all over them. Kill them’.
Another tweet posted on the same day read ‘You can look up Obamas schedule on the white house (sic) website. Take down that treacherous tyrant!’.
ISIS bride Hoda Muthana (pictured in 2022) has been unable to return to the US after joining the jihadist group in 2014. She recently denied sending out tweets threatening violence against Obama and the public from an account believed to be hers
Muthana, pictured with her son several years ago, said the tweets were sent out by a woman in their group who had confiscated all of their phones
Muthana (pictured in 2019) said she had no knowledge of the tweets and believed they were sent out to prevent her being able to go home
Two weeks ago Hoda, who has a five-year-old son whose ISIS father was killed, denied she had anything to do with the tweets.
From what coverage she has seen of herself online the worst part was people thinking she sent the tweets.
The ISIS bride from Alabama who wants to go home
Hoda Muthana has been trying to get back into the US for years without success.
In January this year, Supreme Court justices refused to hear her appeal to be allowed back.
The justices declined without comment on to the appeal of the Yemeni diplomat’s daughter.
Muthana left the U.S. to join the Islamic State in 2014, apparently after becoming radicalized online.
While she was overseas the government determined she was not a U.S. citizen and revoked her passport, citing her father’s status as a Yemeni diplomat at the time of her birth. Her family sued to enable her return to the United States.
A federal judge ruled in 2019 that the U.S. government correctly determined Muthana wasn’t a U.S. citizen despite her birth in the country.
Children of diplomats aren’t entitled to birthright citizenship. The family´s lawyers appealed, arguing that her father’s status as a diplomat assigned to the U.N. had ended before her birth, making her automatically a citizen.
The decision to revoke her passport was made under former President Barack Obama.
The case gained widespread attention as former President Donald Trump tweeted about it, saying he had directed the secretary of state not to allow her back into the country.
She said: ‘The worst thing against me is this online Twitter stuff.
‘I never had a platform to say this, but I have always been trying to tell people that those tweets were not mine.
‘It either gets cut out of the media or it gets kind of butchered somehow and I never get a platform.
‘It’s not fair, the person that did bring me here had a wife who I become (sic) friends with.
‘There was a group of us in a home and she would take our phones.
‘She would take our phones and tell us because we’ve always thought about going back to our countries that we need to make ourselves look bad in the media so we don’t have this persuasion to go back.
‘That’s basically what her agenda was, that’s what their (ISIS) agenda is, that they have to portray you in the worst way so that you don’t have these thoughts of ever wanting to return.
‘She just took my phone and I thought she was just looking through my diary or something and then when she left and I looked through and I saw a bunch of evil horrible tweets that I would never have done because I wanted to stay off media, I never wanted to get myself out there you know.
‘It was not only me that she did it to, it was several people and they were made to look really bad also.’
Hoda said she believed the social media tirades, which she alleges someone else posted, were the catalyst for the US revoking her passport and for the Trump administration to state she was not welcome back.
She said: ‘Of course that’s exactly what Mike Pompeo was quoting about me is that I’ve threatened Americans, I’ve threatened military personnel.
‘Some of the tweets I have read for the first time in this camp. I came here and somebody asked me, ‘were you the one that wanted to kill Obama?’ and I was like, ‘What? No way’.
‘I don’t even know what the tweet exactly says and they (inmates) asked me this (about the tweets) when I first came here and I said, ‘no way, that’s not me’ and I just brushed it off.
‘Then when I looked up an article about me, I saw the tweet and I was just utterly shocked.
This photo of female jihadis waving the ISIS flag was found on a now-deactivated Twitter account which reportedly belonged to Muthana
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Muthana after she left her family’s home in Alabama to join the Islamic State terror group, but then decided she wanted to return to the United States
In February 2019 Trump Tweeted: ‘I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!’
‘Somebody like me who watched Obama winning in 2008, I actually had tears in my eyes. My family celebrated him winning.
‘So for me to turn around and then tweet about it (him) many years later was not me at all.
‘Then the fun one for me was the Obama administration was the one that took my citizenship away so this broke me even more.’
Hoda, whose father was a Yemeni diplomat, was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, but grew up in Virginia and Alabama.
She said: ‘I lived like a very quiet life, I was very restricted from having a social life and when you’re restricted from having a social life I think most of your life is online.
‘I was restricted because of religious culture, it was only school and home and anywhere that my parents went.
‘Doing that as a teenager gets really frustrating and you want to have your own kind of life and your own kind of experiences which I had nothing of.
‘I think I was underdeveloped socially. I was a very shy person.’
Muthana was born to Yemeni diplomats in New Jersey in 1994 and grew up in her family’s home in Hoover, Alabama (pictured), until 2014 when she left for Syria, after being radicalized online
Speaking about the message she was getting online about joining ISIS Hoda said it was framed as if becoming part of the Caliphate was a good ‘pure’ thing.
She said: ‘People were promising you where you were going was pure and what you were doing was pure and your intentions were good.
‘And it was a religious obligation and they kind of groomed you into believing that and into thinking that the place you remained (the USA) was harmful for you.
‘They’d give examples like if you’d ever been cursed at in public or abused verbally or something, which everyone is around the world, it’s not a reason to leave that country, but they made it a religious standpoint.
‘I think most of my classmates knew something was wrong.
‘No one tried to help, I think people thought it was too messy to go into, you know.
‘I had a group of friends on Twitter who were just normal teenagers, before this all happened, and we were all just friends connecting because we were Muslim.
‘Suddenly people started becoming religious and suddenly people started becoming involved in movements and then the people that I was talking to became radicalised and kind of persuaded me to come to an area like this.
‘I would say more trafficked than radicalised because I never had evil thoughts, I never had thoughts of killing or murdering.’
Hoda said she didn’t realise at first she was being groomed to potentially be a wife for a man in ISIS.
She said: ‘I never knew this, no one told me, but the person who did bring me here, did attempt to marry me.
‘I was not allowed to sleep anywhere overnight but I had to think of an excuse to leave overnight (to join ISIS) and the only excuse I could think of was a school trip.
‘People that were trafficking me said it was allowed to lie to your family.
‘Religiously we’re not allowed to lie and our parents are held to a higher degree than what the jihadis believe.
‘They would tell me if I posted a picture online to take it down and they would tell me, I don’t know the word in English, attention to myself by men.
‘They wanted me to be modest so every time I posted a picture people that already went to ISIS, would tell me ‘take that down’.
‘People think I left hating America. The thing for me was I spent days and nights crying over the fact that I was leaving my home and my family because somebody convinced me online that it was an obligation (religiously) for me.
Hoda’s first husband was Australian extremist Suhan Abdul Rahman who was killed in battle in Syria
‘I tried so many times (to escape ISIS), but there is no way out if you don’t have money and I’ve never had money in Syria.
‘I didn’t leave America hating it, I left it thinking that it was a huge sacrifice (for me to leave) on my behalf.
Hoda said she understands why people think she is against America but that she never hated her homeland.
She said: ‘I’m not an evil person, the people that knew me back in America could vouch for me and they would say that I was just a very quiet person.
‘The worst thing I did in America was not clean the dishes on time.
‘People are saying she (me) took America for granted and she doesn’t deserve to go back.
‘I understand but I am trying to explain I just turned 20 and was someone that really no social experience, I didn’t know what I was getting into.
‘I would say I was (trafficked) because there is no possible way that I could have come here on my own, there was somebody that trafficked me here, there was somebody that groomed me online.
‘I’ve been stigmatised and branded for life and I haven’t had a chance at a fair trial and time to speak my real story.
‘I tried many times to escape (ISIS), I didn’t have money, I barely had money to feed my child, we ended up eating grass at some points.
‘I did try physically leaving twice but I got pulled back by the ‘Ameen’ (the ISIS secret service). They stopped while I was trying to leave and they took me to a place with a bunch of women and then they took us to some kind of abandoned warehouse.
‘I had to wait till the last minute basically where I could just walk out with a bunch of Syrians who were allowed out.
‘We saw the SDF and we just ran to the first checkpoint we could see but we had to follow the Syrians so they would look out for the IEDs on the ground.
‘I held my son in my hands for nine hours walking out of there.’
Following the destruction of the Caliphate by US-led coalition and Kurdish forces Hoda says many of the survivors are psychologically scarred by what they went through.
She said: ‘I think we all need counselling I think for the trauma that we’ve seen and even the continuous trauma that we’re getting.
‘I think we had a lot of time to heal and I think we are more confident in the way we are and wanting to help people not make this same mistake again.
‘A lot of people slipped under the table (sic) and went back and got repatriated because there’s no image of them on the internet.
Speaking about why she got recruited to join ISIS, Muthana has previously said in the film that she ‘wanted to feel useful’ and blamed ‘manipulative propaganda.’ A general view shows destroyed buildings in Raqqa city, northeastern Syria
‘I really want to stop it happening I don’t want to see women doing this again to themselves and young girls again falling into this trap.
‘I want to help women that are vulnerable in general. I am vulnerable now and I feel upset at myself that I haven’t lived a day of freedom, being 27 years old, I’ve lived from the metaphorical jail of my home, then to ISIS and then now to this prison camp.
‘So I haven’t really had a day of freedom.’
Hoda, whose son is also believed to the Stateless, said she wanted to return to America to face justice.
She said: ‘I just wish for a fair trial in my home of America. If coming here was a crime then I can sit the jail time. I’m so willing to do that.
‘I’m just getting verbally abused every day here (in the camp), it’s also another problem.
‘Threats by women, threats to even my child. They are (serious) if they had the chance, if there wasn’t the security here.
‘I had an attempt on my life in Camp Hol (Hoda’s previous camp) where people would open my tent and just barge in and I had to sleep at somebody else’s tent until I felt safe again and I never did.
‘They threatened to kill me and my son in my tent while it gets burned alive (sic).’