US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that the diplomatic status of the father of a US-born woman who joined the Islamic State group means she is not a citizen (Eric BARADAT )

Washington (AFP) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the diplomatic status of the father of an Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State group means she is not a US citizen.

Under orders of President Donald Trump, Pompeo made the highly unusual determination Wednesday that 24-year-old Hoda Muthana, who traveled to Syria on a US passport and wants to return, is not an American citizen.

Pompeo did not outline the legal rationale but in an interview Thursday, asked if the key issue was that her father had been a diplomat, Pompeo said, “That’s right.”

“She may have been born here. She is not a US citizen, nor is she entitled to US citizenship,” Pompeo told NBC television’s “Today” show.

In a separate interview with the Fox Business Network, Pompeo dismissed the “heart-strings” pitch in Muthana’s pleas to return home.

“This is a woman who inflicted enormous risk on American soldiers, on American citizens. She is a terrorist. She’s not coming back,” he said.

Muthana was born in 1994 in New Jersey to a father who had served as a diplomat from Yemen, according to her lawyer.

But the lawyer, Hassan Shibly, told AFP that her father had ended his diplomatic service “months” before Muthana was born and that she was in fact a US citizen.

The United States grants citizenship to virtually everyone born on its soil under the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment — ratified in 1868 after the Civil War and abolition of slavery.

The only significant exception is children of accredited foreign diplomats, as the 14th Amendment provides citizenship to everyone “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States.

It is extremely difficult for the United States to strip a person of citizenship, a step taken by Britain in the case of homegrown jihadists.

Muthana, who remains in the custody of US-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria along with a toddler son from a late jihadist husband, says she regrets her actions and is willing to face prosecution in the United States.

She furtively went to Syria in 2014 when the Islamic State group was carrying out a grisly campaign of beheadings and mass rape and turned to social media to praise the killings of Westerners.

Trump’s order on Muthana came even though he is pushing other Western countries to bring back hundreds of jihadists to prosecute at home as the United States prepares to withdraw troops from Syria.

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