What can the U.S. learn from the Muthana case?

Thursday, March 14, 2019
J.M. Phelps (OneNewsNow.com)

cyber terrorismAn ISIS bride who once called for death to Americans now wants to return to the U.S., but she's facing a losing battle on a couple of fronts. One expert believes something could be learned from her and others like her.

A request to fast-track Hoda Muthana's case was denied by a federal judge on March 4. More than four years earlier, the American-born college student traveled to Syria with the intention to join ISIS. After marrying a succession of IS terrorists, she gave birth to the son of one of them who has since died.

Muthana, who is currently being housed in a refugee camp in northern Syria, desires to return to the United States with her son. But despite being born in New Jersey, she's not entitled to birthright citizenship because her father, Ahmed Ali Muthana, was under the protections of his home country as a Yemeni diplomat at the time.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recognized "[Muthana is] not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States." In agreement, prosecutors in the case have since declared: "Muthana is not and has never been a U.S. citizen, and her son likewise is not a U.S. citizen."

While in recent months Muthana has expressed remorse for her actions, in her not so distant past she had taken to social media to call for the killings of Americans. In 2015, she tweeted: "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."

Omar Qudrat, former political adviser to the NATO Ambassador and Department of Defense counter-terrorism prosecutor, tells OneNewsNow that litigating Muthana's citizenship is important.


"[But] the broader question is [this]," he says: "Should someone who deliberately left the United States, even as a citizen, and joins an enemy force that is active in hostilities against the United States, trying to kill Americans, be allowed to re-enter the country?"

Qudrat acknowledges it is up to the courts to decide whether Muthana is a citizen or will be allowed into the United States. In the meantime, however, he points out there are Americans who are "self-activating" and "joining the caliphate" as a result of cyber recruitment efforts like those exemplified by Muthana on Twitter.

"She may be welcomed home by prosecutors who then would put her in a position where she's indicted and tried for potentially materially supporting a terrorist network," the prosecutor argues.

Countering their cyber-strategy

Qudrat argues that Americans must begin to understand that "the domain of our fight with ISIS is not limited to the battlefield." While ISIS is currently being weakened by the U.S. and allies, he says "[terrorists have] been consistently effective at recruiting and activating people around the world to commit attacks on the homeland."

man using computer in dark roomThe counter-terrorism prosecutor believes people like Muthana and others are "probably a lot more sophisticated" in their online recruiting efforts than most would expect. ISIS is known to use the Internet for a number of nefarious activities, which includes growing their global network.

"Google stated in 2016 that more than 50,000 people searched the phrase 'join ISIS' each month," he notes – adding that ISIS continues to use virtual platforms to call on sympathizers to wage jihad.

Through a sophisticated cyber-strategy, Qudrat explains "you have a division of ISIS attacks and you have another division of ISIS-inspired attacks" – and terrorists, he continues, are using all means of online platforms to communicate, recruit, and activate people to commit those attacks.

Qudrat warns: "There is a need to extinguish [the] ideology of radical Islamic terrorism, because even if [terrorists] don't have weapons and Humvees anymore, if they're able to infect the minds of people to activate them to rent a truck and run over people in New York City or shoot up their coworkers, then we still have an ongoing serious national security issue."

Every situation, including that of Muthana, must be "optimized," Qudrat explains. These types of individuals are "cunning and clever," he adds, and should not be underestimated.

"If we're going to bring people back home [to the U.S.], then we need to optimize the situation by being able to generate information intelligence," he contends.

Editor's note: Omar Qudrat, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, was a 2018 Republican candidate for Congress to represent California's 52nd district. He lost in the general election to Democrat Scott Peters. Stopping homeland terrorist attacks was one of his major campaign issues.

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