AN ISIS bride who fled America to answer a “higher calling” with the terror group has begged to return home after being forced to eat grass to survive in Syria.
Hoda Muthana, 24, says she’s “thankful for America’s freedoms” and regrets ever aligning herself with ISIS.
AP:Associated Press Former ISIS bride Hoda Muthana is keen to return to the US from Syria
In an interview with ABC News, while holding her 18-month-old son, Muthana said she “definitely” regretted leaving her home in Hoover, Alabama, after becoming radicalised online.
She said: “It’s not Islamic, at all – anyone who says so, I will fight against it.
“I’m just a normal human being who has been manipulated once and hopefully never again.”
The airing of the interview coincides with the woman’s handwritten letter, released through her lawyer, Hassan Shibly, pleading to let her return to the US.
He said she realised she was wrong, and was putting herself at risk by speaking out against ISIS from a refugee camp, where she has lived since fleeing the group a few weeks ago.
Muthana, who dodged sniper fire and roadside bombs to escape, is ready to pay the penalty for her actions.
“I WILL HELP PEOPLE”
But she wants freedom and safety for the 18-month-old son she had with one of two ISIS fighters she wed, he said. Both men were killed in combat.
Muthana told ABC News that if allowed to return to America, “I will learn more, and I will try to help people not make the same mistake that I have.”
She explained that the birth of her boy had changed her way of thinking: “When he was born, I wanted to leave, because I had a motherhood instinct that I didn’t have before.”
After leaving her home – and her four siblings – in late 2014, at the age of 19, she arrived initially in Turkey, before ending up in Raqqa.
While there, she was moved into a safe house, “with locks on all the doors, the windows, and guards in front of the locked doors, and a guard in front of the guard.”
She lived there with “about 200 people at a time.”
Muthana was given a list of potential husbands, and ended up marrying Suhan Rahman, an Australian of Bangladeshi origin, followed by a Tunisian ISIS fighter, after Rahman’s death in 2015.
LIVING ON GRASS
She told ABC News of her shock at seeing dead bodies while in Syria, with “limbs splattered on the floor… seeing it with your own eyes really made you wake up and change.”
The mum fled the terror group while US-backed Syrian forces attacked the final ISIS stronghold. But seeing her son reduced to living “on grass” plucked around houses made her determined to seek a better life for him, she said.
Asked about how she expected to be received by Americans, Muthana replied: “I hope they excuse me because of how young and ignorant I was… now I’ve changed, now I’m a mother, and I have none of the ideology.”
While acknowledging that she “maybe” needed to be punished for joining ISIS, she pointed out: “I need help mentally… I’m traumatised from my experience.”
Her lawyer said she’d been under the spell of “brainwashing monsters” and cried herself to sleep most nights.
According to Associated Press, in the letter released on her behalf by Hassan Shibly, Muthana wrote that she made “a big mistake” by rejecting her family and friends in the US to join ISIS.
She wrote: “During my years in Syria I would see and experience a way of life and the terrible effects of war which changed me.”
Muthana also referred to her previous use of social media, where she advocated violence against America.
After her first husband was killed in Kobani, she wrote on Twitter: “Americans wake up! Men and women altogether. You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping!
“Go on drivebys, and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriots, Memorial, etc day… Kill them.”
In her letter, Muthana wrote that she didn’t understand the importance of freedoms provided by the US at the time.
REGRETS CAUSING FAMILY PAIN
“To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly,” she wrote.
Shibly said Muthana was brainwashed online before she left Alabama and could now provide valuable intelligence for US forces.
But, according to AP, he said the FBI didn’t seem interested in retrieving her from the refugee camp where she is currently living with her son.
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Muthana’s father would welcome the woman back, Shibly said, but she is not on speaking terms with her mum.
State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino told The National that the status of US citizens in Syria “is extremely complicated. We’re looking into these cases to better understand the details.”
abc news Hoda Muthana, 24, holding her toddler, says she regrets ever aligning herself with the terrorist organisation
abc news Her first husband, Suhan Rahman, an Australian jihadist, was killed in Kobani
abc news When ABC News asked if she regretted joining ISIS, Muthana replied ‘definitely’
abc news Speaking from the refugee camp, she told the reporter about the shock of seeing dead bodies in Syria
abc news ‘I’m just a normal human being who has been manipulated once and hopefully never again’, she added
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