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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2019, file photo, Hassan Shibly, attorney for Hoda Muthana, the Alabama woman who left home to join the Islamic State group in Syria, speaks on a phone before a news conference in Tampa, Fla. A federal judge has ruled the U.S. government was correct when it determined Muthana, who joined the Islamic State, was not an American citizen despite her birth in the country. A family lawyer said Friday, Nov. 15, that they plan to appeal the ruling. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, file)

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge has ruled the U.S. government was correct when it determined a woman who joined the Islamic State extremist group was not an American citizen despite her birth in the country.

Lawyers for the family of the woman said Friday that they plan to appeal the ruling.

"This is not the end of our client's legal options," said Christina Jump, a lawyer with the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America.

Hoda Muthana was born in New Jersey in October 1994 to a diplomat from Yemen, and she grew up in Alabama. In 2014, she left the U.S. to join the Islamic State, apparently after becoming radicalized online. While she was overseas, the government determined she was not a U.S. citizen because her father was a diplomat at the time of her birth, and the government revoked her passport.

She surrendered in January to U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces as the Islamic State began losing the last of its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Its members have been in refugee camps ever since.

Muthana said she regretted her decision to join the group and wanted to return to the U.S. with her toddler child, the son of a man she met while living with the group. The man later died.

Her family filed suit to enable her return to the United States. Children of diplomats are not entitled to birthright citizenship, but the family's lawyers argued that her father's status as a diplomat assigned to the U.N. ended before her birth and that she was automatically a citizen.

The U.S. says it wasn't notified that his status had changed until February 1995, apparently because of a delay in reporting it by the U.N., and therefore he was still a diplomat.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton upheld that determination Thursday. Jump said the judge ruled from the bench that he believes he is bound by the State Department's representation as to when the government received notice that the father's diplomatic position had ended, and granted the defendant's motion to dismiss on that basis.

Muthana's case has drawn widespread attention because President Donald Trump tweeted about it in February, saying he had directed the secretary of state not to allow her back into the United States.

The decision to revoke her passport was made under President Barack Obama.

A Section on 11/16/2019

Print Headline: Judge: Ex-extremist not a citizen


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