An Alabama woman who reportedly posted a tweet encouraging Americans to kill themselves -- after being “brainwashed” into joining ISIS years ago -- is now begging for officials to let her back into the U.S.
The plea from Hoda Muthana, 24, comes following her recent escape from ISIS and capture by Kurdish forces. She is being held in a refugee camp in northeast Syria and told The Guardian in an interview that her last four years with the terrorist group have been a traumatizing experience where “we starved and we literally ate grass."
“I would tell them please forgive me for being so ignorant, and I was really young and ignorant and I was 19 when I decided to leave,” she told the newspaper when asked if she had a message for American officials.
“I believe that America gives second chances. I want to return and I’ll never come back to the Middle East. America can take my passport and I wouldn’t mind,” she added, noting that she has not been in contact with anyone from the State Department.
Muthana first made headlines in 2015 after it emerged that she left her family in Birmingham, Alabama to join the bloodthirsty terrorist group.
An attorney representing her parents at the time said Muthana was “brainwashed” over the Internet, according to the Associated Press, and that she went against her family’s wishes and the teachings of Islam by secretly boarding a plane to Turkey in late 2014 to link up with ISIS.
The attorney said it then, but it wasn’t until Sunday -- in her interview with The Guardian -- that Muthana admitted herself that she was “brainwashed” and made a “big mistake.”
“I thought I was doing things correctly for the sake of God,” she said, adding that she was “brainwashed once and my friends are still brainwashed.”
The newspaper says Muthana, during her time with ISIS, lived in their once-stronghold of Raqqa and was married to jihadists from Australia, Tunisia, and Syria – the first two of which have been killed in battle.
In 2015, Muthana reportedly operated a Twitter account and once tried to use it to incite Americans to commit acts of violence amongst themselves on national holidays.
“Americans wake up! Men and women altogether. You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping!” she once wrote, according to The Guardian. “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.”
Muthana now has an 18-month-old son from one of her ISIS marriages. In her interview with The Guardian, Muthana also claims her parents were too strict on her in her upbringing, a factor that she says contributed to her decision to defect to ISIS.
“You want to go out with your friends and I didn’t get any of that,” she said. “I turned to my religion and went in too hard. I was self-taught and thought whatever I read, it was right."
Now Muthana is not allowed to leave the camp she is being held at and has to be escorted around by Kurdish fighters, more than 6,500 miles away from the Alabama city she once called home.