Stripping Citizenship, States Struggle to Confront Foreign Fighters

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Friday, March 1, 2019
Alex Psilakis

On February 19, 2019, Shamima Begum heard the news. While nursing her newborn son at a Syrian refugee camp, her family – contacting her from the UK – informed her that they had received a letter from the Home Office. The government, Begum’s family told her, planned to strip her of her British citizenship for joining the Islamic State (IS) in 2015. On February 20, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a similar statement to Hoda Muthana – an American that joined IS in 2014. Disqualifying any claim that Muthana may return to the US, Secretary Pompeo stated that, “Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.