An American woman who fled her home in Alabama to join ISIS in Syria now admits she made “a big mistake” and wants to return to her family in the US.
“We were basically in the time of ignorance…and then became jihadi, if you like to describe it that way,” 24-year-old Hoda Muthana told The Guardian in an interview speaking from al-Hawl refugee camp in northeastern Syria.
Muthana, who was married three times in Syria to Islamic State fighters and lives at the refugee camp with her 18-month-old son, Adam, says she “deeply regrets” joining the terrorist group and claims she was “brainwashed.”
“I look back now and I think I was very arrogant,” Muthana told the news outlet. “Now I’m worried about my son’s future. In the end, I didn’t have many friends left, because the more I talked about the oppression of ISIS the more I lost friends. I was brainwashed once and my friends are still brainwashed.”
Muthana left her home in Hoover in 2014 in order to join the terror group.
According to The Guardian, Muthana fled the Syrian village of Susa six weeks ago before being captured by Kurdish forces who transferred her to al-Hawl.
Muthana is believed to be the only American among an estimated 1,500 foreign women and children inside the al-Hawl refugee camp of 39,000 people.
Also living at the camp is Shamima Begum, 19, who recently gave birth to a baby boy.
She told a British news outlet in a report published last week that she, too, wants to return to her home in London.
“I was weak,” Begum, who fled the collapse of the terror group’s self-styled caliphate, told The Times of London. “In the end, I just could not endure any more.”
Begum said her two previous children died in the past three months — a daughter, Sarayah, who had become sick, and a son, Jerah, whose death was linked to malnutrition.
She told Sky News in an interview published Monday that “a lot of people should have sympathy for me for everything I have been through,.”
“I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left,” she said. “I was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they’d let me come back…Because I can’t live in this camp forever.”
Muthana, who said she has not been in contact with US officials since her capture, is seeking the same outcome.
“I would tell [US officials] please forgive me for being so ignorant, and I was really young and ignorant and I was 19 when I decided to leave,” Muthana told The Guardian.
“I believe that America gives second chances,” she said. “I want to return and I’ll never come back to the Middle East. America can take my passport and I wouldn’t mind.”
According to the report, Muthana’s first two husbands were killed fighting for ISIS. Her second husband and the father of her son, was killed in Mosul.
She described her experience with ISIS as “very mind-blowing.”
“It was like a movie,” Muthana said. “You read one book and think you know everything. I’m really traumatized by my experience. We starved and we literally ate grass.”