When 24-year-old Hoda Muthana left her family behind to join ISIS, she was an impressionable young woman. The terrorist organization brainwashed her and convinced her that the American way of life was evil and she should abandon her family in Hoover, Alabama. She fled ISIS three weeks ago and just gave her first interview since her interment in the group – and she hopes to return to the United States and her family and receive government assistance to get therapy if they don’t throw her in jail.
During the interview, Hoda held her 18-month-old son on her lap. She was speaking to ABC News from a refugee camp in northern Syria. She no longer believes the “extremist” ideology of ISIS and wants to rejoin the normalcy of American society.
“I’m a normal human being who has been manipulated,” Hoda said. The terrorist organization recruited her when she was twenty. “I hope America doesn’t think I’m a threat to them, and I hope they accept me. I hope they excuse me because of how young and ignorant I was.”
She added, “I can tell them now I have changed, now I am a mother. I have none of the ideology, and hopefully, everyone will see it when I get back.”
Despite her claims of returning to normalcy, she did call for terrorist attacks on social media. She said that “maybe therapy lessons” would help that “maybe a process that will ensure us that we’ll never do it again.”
Because she has lived in ISIS for years, she doesn’t think “jail time” will work to rehabilitate people. She would prefer to receive therapy. “I don’t know if (jail time) has an effect on people. I need help mentally as well. I don’t have the ideology any more, but I am just traumatized by my experience.”
Hoda witnessed horrible things while with ISIS. Now she cries “almost every night” because she’s terrified she’ll be locked up once she returns to Hoover, Alabama.
“I know that when I do get back, I probably will be sentenced to jail for I don’t know how much time. Thinking that my last few moments with (my son) are stuck in prison before another prison.”
Hoda cannot offer a coherent reason for why she left her parents’ home for ISIS back in 2014.
“I had a good relationship with my family, but I wanted a more Americanized life. I just wanted to go out. I wanted to have, like, friends, go to places. I didn’t get any of that.”
Instead of moving out on her own, she joined an oppressive terrorist organization because it was the only opportunity she saw.
“The only way out for me was to become practicing, to become more religious,” she said.
While in ISIS, Hoda married three ISIS fighters. Two of them were killed in battle. She simply selected them from a list just like the other “200 girls” like her.
“They keep you in Raqqa with locks on all the doors and windows with a guard in front of the door and a guard in front of the guard. At a time there would be about 200 people. Everyone just gave their preferences on who they’d like to marry, and you were given a list, and you could choose. It sounds very crazy.”
She was one of many “young girls, married for the first time.”
Do you think she should be allowed to return?
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