|Social media incitement in the Spanish Civil War|
I seriously think we can get a lot of insight about the foreign fighters who joined ISIS, and what to do about them now that they want to be repatriated, by looking to the historical example of the foreign fighters who joined the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War.
They even had great female propagandists who riled up the troops, the most famous of whom was Dolores Ibárruri – La Pasionaria – who did all her work with just a microphone and a radio broadcast. What new levels of incitement she might have achieved with a Twitter account!
But, back to our present day social media inciter, Hoda Muthana. Her father filed a lawsuit on her behalf requesting injunctive relief to prevent the government from ruling on her lack of birthright citizenship without due process.
Hoda Muthana Lawsuit by on Scribd
It comes down to a battle of the letters. Mr. Muthana waves that 2004 USUN document with its all-important employment termination date of September 1, 1994 – just a month short of his daughter’s birth – and the USG replies with its 2016 letter that informed Muthana the U.S. Government was not notified of his loss of diplomatic employment until after his daughter’s birth.
The letters are brandished in paragraphs 21 and 25:
21. Utilizing his daughter’s birth certificate, Mr. Muthana applied for a passport for his minor daughter Hoda Muthana in 2004. After receiving this application, officials from the United States State Department initially questioned whether Ms. Muthana was eligible for a U.S. passport, based on their records showing her father’s diplomatic status remained in effect until February 6, 1995. In response, Ahmed Ali Muthana provided the government with Exhibit C, a letter from the United States Mission to the United Nations, signed by Russell F. Graham, Minister Counselor for Host Country Affairs, and addressed to Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which confirms that the diplomatic status he had due to his employment at the U.N. was terminated prior to the time of Ms. Muthana’s birth. The United States accepted this documentation and issued Hoda Muthana the requested passport on January 24, 2005. Exhibit D. The United States also later renewed Ms. Muthana’s passport on February 21, 2014.
25. On January 15, 2016, the United States issued a letter addressed to Ms. Muthana at her parents’ residence, purporting to revoke her passport under 22 C.F.R. 51.7 and 51.66. Exhibit D. In the revocation letter, the government again acknowledged that her father’s diplomatic position ended on September 1, 1994, but now asserted for the first time that because the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Host Country Affairs Section, had not been officially notified of his termination until February 6, 1995, she was not “within the jurisdiction of the United States” at the time of her birth, and therefore not a United States citizen pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Notice the dates in para 25. It was in 2016, during the Obama administration, that the State Department revoked her passport because it had concluded she was not a citizen at the time of her birth. (Here’s a headline you'll never see: “Trump agrees with Obama, Alabama woman not a citizen under 14th Amendment”)
So then, the father was well aware of the USG’s position on the matter of his daughter’s lack of U.S. citizenship long before this became a news story. It turns out he was not entirely forthcoming when he released that 2004 USUN memo to the news media earlier this week; he could have also released the 2016 letter in which the State Department informed him that it did not end his diplomatic status until it was notified that his employment at the Yemeni UN Mission had been terminated, which notification occurred after the birth of his daughter Hoda.
And then there is the separate matter of whether or not Hoda Muthana expatriated herself, assuming she was in fact a birthright citizen, by her act of joining the ISIS caliphate. The complaint addresses that matter indirectly in a footnote on page ten:
Birthright citizenship may be revoked under 8 U.S.C. § 1481 for “formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof.” However, none of the circumstances set out in § 1401 is facially applicable to the facts of this case, as ISIS is not and has not been recognized as a state by the United States, or any country. And, Ms. Muthana’s actions do not meet the definition of treason as required by the statute. Apart from § 1481, counsel is not aware of any statutory process to revoke recognized birthright citizenship.
Facially applicable? I suppose that refers to something of or pertaining to surface appearances. Well, below the surface I don’t think that argument works at all.
Of course we didn’t diplomatically recognize the ISIS caliphate. So what? It didn’t need our recognition. It declared its own sovereignty, as do all states, and it operated as a full-fledged state until it was militarily destroyed.
We also didn’t recognize the USSR as a state until 1933. Nevertheless, if a birthright U.S. citizen had moved there and declared his allegiance to the USSR before 1933, we would surely have revoked his citizenship.
Count 8 of the complaint also goes to the issue of expatriating acts:
As United States Citizens, Ms. Muthana and her minor child have the right to return to the United States under international law, and the United States government has a vested interest in assisting U.S. citizens who flee armed conflict on foreign soil.
Ms. Muthana and her young son have succeeded in escaping ISIS-controlled territory; however, they are still located in an area of Syria which is riddled by conflict and violence. Since 2011, “fighting in Syria has killed an estimated 465,000 people, injured more than one million, and forced about 12 million people - or half the country's pre-war population - from their homes.”
Although Mr. Muthana’s daughter has at times been in the company of ISIS fighters and present in ISIS-controlled territory, there is no evidence to suggest that she has taken part in any armed combat or hostilities.
Armed combat, no. But she certainly did take part in hostilities in that she incited others to violence. Furthermore she must have been in the company of ISIS fighters more than just occasionally since she married three of them, the first one only a month after she arrived in Syria. And it is a huge understatement to say she was merely "present" in ISIS-controlled territory when she had to scheme and plot to get there from Alabama without her family's knowledge, and she stayed there five years, leaving only after it collapsed.
What about her acts and words during her time in ISIS territory? See the UK Guardian article of last Sunday:
[She was] Once one of Isis’s most prominent online agitators who took to social media to call for the blood of Americans to be spilled.
- Snip -
Her experience in the so-called caliphate tracks the arc of Isis’s shocking rise and precipitous collapse over five brutal years. Muthana fled her home and took a flight to Turkey in November 2014 after several months of planning, which she kept secret from her family.
She settled into the Syrian city of Raqqa, then one of Isis’s two main hubs – the other being Mosul in Iraq – where she married an Australian jihadist, Suhan Rahman, the first of her three husbands.
Rahman was killed in the town of Kobanî, and soon afterwards Muthana angrily tweeted: “Americans wake up! Men and women altogether. You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping! 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.”
For many months in 2015, her Twitter feed was full of bloodcurdling incitement, and she says she remained a zealot until the following year. She now says her account was taken over by others.
That same day [as the “kill them” tweet], she tweeted out a photo of her ISIS husband’s bloodied body:
“I’m the most content I have ever been in my life. … And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead,” according to the UK’s Daily Mail.
And then there was the tweet in which she urged the taking down of President Barack Obama:
“You can look up Obamas schedule on the white house website. Take down that treacherous tyrant!”
That's some very high level of hostility, and all at the service of ISIS when it was at its gruesome peak.
Today, she says it was all a big mistake and we should welcome her back. Not coincidentally, today the caliphate has been destroyed and its fighters largely annihilated.