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US judge declines to speed up IS bride's case


Washington:   A US judge has rejected a request that he should speed up consideration of a lawsuit filed on behalf of an American-born woman who joined the Islamic State (IS) terror group in 2014 and is now stranded in a refugee camp in Syria with her son.

On Monday, Judge Reggie Walton of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, also suggested that he took a positive view of legal arguments that Hoda Muthana may be an American citizen, contrary to the government's declaration that she wasn't one, The New York Times reported.

At age 19, Muthana travelled to Syria to join the IS. Five years later, Muthana has now said that she regrets what she did and wants to return to the US.

In response, President Donald Trump's administration said she was not a citizen and would not be allowed back.

The State Department had cancelled her passport in 2016 under former President Barack Obama's administration.

Last month, Muthana's father Ahmed Ali Muthana, a former diplomat from Yemen, filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to prevent what he called an "unlawful attempt" by the US government to rescind his daughter's citizenship.

Following Monday's ruling, Charlie Swift, a lawyer hired by Ahmed Ali Muthana, said that Hoda Muthana and her 18-month-old son were in danger because IS members now see her as a heretic. 

He said that Trump's intention to withdraw troops from Syria means the window of opportunity for the American government to get her out may be closing. 

He emphasised that she would likely be prosecuted if she returns.

Last month, Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, said Hoda Muthana should return to the US and be prosecuted. 

Americans who joined the IS or were arrested as they tried to travel to Syria, have been routinely charged and convicted of providing material support to terrorism.

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