WASHINGTON - As a shy, studious teenager in Alabama, Hoda Muthana rarely made waves. After her abrupt transformation into a fiery supporter of the Islamic State i n Iraq and Syria (ISIS), she is under the scanner of the top levels of the US government.
The 24-year-old, who has since been married to three different militants and has a toddler son, says she regrets her turn to radicalism and wants to return home - but President Donald Trump has personally intervened to block her.
Growing up in Hoover, Alabama, a prosperous suburb of Birmingham with a sizable Muslim community, Muthana was raised by strict Yemeni immigrant parents who forbade her from owning a smartphone - ubiquitous among US teenagers - until she finished high school.
The phone opened her world. Muthana says she was pulled in by messages of ISIS which brainwashed her into flying furtively in 2014 to the militants' self-styled caliphate, which then reigned over vast stretches of Syria and Iraq and had drawn in hundreds of Westerners, mostly Europeans of immigrant upbringing.
Once she arrived, social media gave the Alabama girl a global audience among extremists. In one tweet, she appeared to torch her US passport. In another, she called Americans "cowards" for not coming in greater numbers to the caliphate's de facto capital of Raqa where she lived among Australians.