Damascus: An American woman captured by Kurdish forces after fleeing the last Islamic State stronghold in Syria, has said that she “deeply regrets” joining the terror group and has pleaded to be allowed to return to her family in Alabama.
Once one of the IS’ most prominent online agitators who took to social media to call for the blood of Americans to be spilled, Hoda Muthana, 24, claims to have made a “big mistake” when she left the US four years ago, saying she was brainwashed into doing so online.
Speaking from the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria, Muthana told the Guardian that she misunderstood her faith, and that friends she had at the time believed they were following Islamic tenets when they aligned themselves with the IS.
“We were basically in the time of ignorance.. and then became jihadi, if you like to describe it that way,” she said. “I thought I was doing things correctly for the sake of God.”
Muthana is the only American among an estimated 1,500 foreign women and children inside the sprawling camp of 39,000 people, which is situated about two hours from Baghouz Al-Fawqani in Deir al-Zour province, where a final battle to oust the extremists is days from being completed.
She also has an 18-month-old son.
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 in the Syrian city of Raqqa where she married an Australian jihadi, Suhan Rahman, the first of her three husbands. He was killed a year later in Kobani.
Soon after, she married her second husband, a Tunisian fighter, with whom she had her son, Adam. Her husband was killed in Mosul, and Muthana retreated with dozens of other women deeper into the IS’ ever-shrinking territory, where she briefly married a Syrian fighter last year.
Muthana told the Guardian that her family in Alabama were deeply conservative and placed restrictions on her movements and interactions, factors she claims contributed to her radicalisation.
She described her experience with the IS as “very mind-blowing”, saying she was “really traumatised by my experience”.
Muthana has not been in contact with US officials since her capture.