|A photo shared by Hoda Muthana on her now-closed @ZumarulJanna Twitter account|
The Program on Extremism at the George Washington University issued a report last year on the phenomenon of American foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. Read it here: The Travelers, American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq. It mentions Hoda Muthana and has some general remarks about the American women, comprising eleven percent of the travelers, who went there to join ISIS.
In November 2014, 20-year-old Hoda Muthana (kunya: Umm Jihad) left her hometown of Hoover, Alabama, for Syria. Prior to her departure, she was active in the community of English-speaking IS supporters on Twitter and other social media sites, and continued her online presence after arriving in Syria.
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Despite the small sample size, American jihadist women travelers help shed light on Western women’s participation in jihadist networks. The three women above, alongside others in the sample, defy conventional stereotypes about how and why women (especially Western women) participate in jihadist movements. Although many presume that female jihadists are duped into participation, and motivated by the personal pursuit of love or validation, their contributions and motivations for engagement vary as much as their male counterparts. Though often relegated to support roles, women’s more “traditional” efforts as the wives and mothers of jihadists are not necessarily passive either. American women were committed to the jihadist cause and decided to travel on their own accord. They also appear to have played significant roles in their respective jihadist organizations. Muthana highlights the role of Western women in networks of online jihadist supporters, Nasrin served in a critically important and understaffed non-combat position (in a hospital), and Mansfield may have been more directly involved in operations.
Where does Hoda Muthana go from here? Will she manage to fight the State Department and get her day in court on the matter of birthright citizenship? The complaint filed on her behalf makes some fascinating points, and I would not count her out. All we know for sure is that she has no caliphate to go back to after five years of living the ISIS life. She made her own decisions, and soon she'll have to own up to what she's done.
And now the end is near, and so she'll face the final curtain. My friend, she'll say it clear, she'll state her case, of which she's certain. She's lived a life that's full, and traveled each and every highway. And more, much more than this, she did it her way.
Regrets, she's had a few. But then again, too few to mention. She did what she had to do, and saw it through without exemption. She planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway. And more, much more than this, she did it her way.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew, when she bit off more than she could chew. But through it all, when there was doubt she ate it up and spit it out. She faced it all and she stood tall, and did it her way.
She's loved, she's laughed and cried, she had her fill, her share of losing. And now, as tears subside she finds it all, all so amusing. To think she did all that, and may I say, not in a shy way, oh no, no not her, she did it her way.
For what is a woman, what has she got? If not herself, then she has naught. To say the things she truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels. The record shows she took the blows, and did it her-er-er-er way.