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US-born Islamic State bride appeals again to come home from Syria

Government is refusing to let Hoda Muthana return to US, arguing that she is not American citizen
Muthana told NBC she fears for her life because she could be targeted by people at camp who have not renounced IS (AFP/File photo)

A US-born woman who says she regrets having joined the Islamic State (IS) group has appealed again to go home from the refugee camp where she lives with her small son in Syria.

The government in Washington is refusing to let Hoda Muthana return to the US, arguing that she is not an American citizen, AFP reported.

In an interview with NBC News published on Saturday, Muthana, 25, said she "regrets every single thing" done by IS, which she joined in 2014 after embracing extremist ideology while living with her family in Alabama.

"Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were," Muthana said.

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The interview was conducted in northeast Syria at the al-Roj refugee camp, controlled by Kurdish forces, where Muthana lives with her two-year-old son, Adam.

The lawyer for the family, Hassan Shibly, told Middle East Eye earlier this year that the US government's claims are bogus. "They're trying to say that she was never a citizen to begin with," Shibly said, attributing his knowledge of the government's claims to statements received by the family.

"They're playing games with the vague language, and they're going to see us in court," he said.

Court documents filed  earlier this month indicate that Muthana is still fighting to come home, claiming her child has chronic bronchitis and minimal access to medical care, ABC News reported.

Muthana is the only American among about 1,500 foreign women and children inside the sprawling camp of 39,000 people, the Guardian said earlier this year.

Muthana told NBC she fears for her life because she could be targeted by people at the camp who have not renounced IS.

"I did not support the beheadings… I do not support any of their crimes and suicide attacks," Muthana said.

The US government has repatriated several American women linked to the group, along with their children, but not Muthana.

Washington argues she is not a US citizen even though she was born in the US because she is the daughter of a diplomat serving for the Yemeni government at the time.

The children of US-based foreign diplomats do not enjoy citizenship by birthright.

Muthana has filed suit to try to return to the US. She had travelled to Syria on a US passport.

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"I am a citizen, and I have papers to prove it. I am as American as a blonde-haired blue-eyed girl, and I would like to stay in my country and do American things," Muthana told NBC.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier that she "is not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the United States".

Muthana married three IS fighters, all of whom died in combat.

She took part actively in IS propaganda, according to the Counter Extremism Project. She had urged sympathisers in America to "go on drive-bys, and spill all of their blood". Muthana also hailed an attack in 2015 in France against the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

In the interview with NBC, she said: "It was an ideology that really was just a phase." She refused to discuss those earlier comments.

Muthana told the Guardian that her family in Alabama was deeply conservative and placed restrictions on her movements and interactions, factors she claims contributed to her radicalisation. "You want to go out with your friends, and I didn't get any of that. I turned to my religion and went in too hard. I was self-taught and thought whatever I read, it was right."

She said she is willing to face the US justice system if she is allowed to return.

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