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'First Lady of ISIS' Recounts Leaving Terrorist Group, Joining Christian Church in Texas

( [email protected] ) Nov 06, 2017 11:27 AM EST
The former bride of ISIS's highest-ranking American member opened up about leaving her jihadist husband and joining a Christian church in an eye-opening interview with The Atlantic.
Tania Georgelas, 33 (pictured), the British-born jihadi bride said she became radicalized through the racism she experienced growing up in London YouTube

The former bride of ISIS's highest-ranking American member opened up about leaving her jihadist husband and joining a Christian church in an eye-opening interview with The Atlantic.

Tania Georgelas, 33, lives in Dallas, Texas, and regularly attends a attends a Unitarian church outside of the city. In addition to caring for her four children, she takes online college courses with the aim of working for anti-radicalization efforts.

"When I left Islam, I was really trying to find another religion to replace it," she said. "I really missed having a community after leaving Islam, and it wasn't until we started going to this church that I really felt at home in Dallas."

However, her life once looked drastically different.

Tania recently shared how she became radicalized as a teen in England and later moved to Syria with her husband, John Georgelas. Devout Muslims, she and her husband hoped to raise their four children to become jihadi fighters.

"Our dreams were to have land of our own, raise a family and train them be assassins or whatever, soldiers, and then eventually go join the jihad," she said.

Growing up in London, Tania faced persecution because of her British-Bangladeshi heritage. She recalled how people would throw rocks through her family's windows, fueling her hatred for the west and subsequent radicalization.

"I faced a lot of racism," she said. "I was looking for a way to retaliate, and I wanted honor again."

It wasn't until just after 9/11, she said, that she became "really jihadi hardcore," and began attending rallies, such as one against the war in Iraq.

Soon, she joined a Muslim dating website, where she met John, a Texas native who converted to Islam shortly after 9/11. The two bonded over their dedication to jihad, and wed in 2004. Soon, Tania became pregnant with the couple's first child, a son.

"John dressed up my son like a jihadi," she recalled. "I thought it was so cute."

ISIS
(Photo : YouTube)

When Tania was pregnant with their fourth child, John convinced her to move to Raqqa, Syria to help ISIS establish their caliphate.

"John wanted to go to Syria, and I said I wasn't ready, not while the kids are small," she said. "He said 'It's only for two weeks max.' I wanted the rebels to win, and I wanted to be part of it, but not inside Syria with children."

Shortly after arriving, however, Tania fell sick, and John sent her back to the states, where she briefly lived with his parents in Plano, Texas. At first, she hated living in the United States.

"I was very depressed that I'm in a society for so many years though was evil," she recalled. "I had lost my life, my husband was my life. I've had these children for one reason only, and that was so they could serve god as Muslims, as mujahideen, and now I didn't know what to do with them."

After spending time in the country, however, Tania's eyes were opened to the horrors of jihad, and she sought and obtained a divorce from John.

Once again, Tania began looking for love on a dating site -- this time, however, it was a secular website.

"I went to the dating website Match, I wrote an essay: 'I have four kids, my husband abandoned me to go become the next Osama Bin Laden.' And I got 1,300 replies," she said.

Before long, she met her new boyfriend, an IT professional named Craig, who embraced her despite her troubled past.

"She said right away that her husband was in IS, and I said 'Okay, that's alright,'" he said.

Since leaving Islam, the former "First Lady of ISIS" has an entirely different outlook on life and hopes her story serves as a cautionary tale.

"I don't know if I want to show people my story - it's kind of a horror story," she said. "If anything it's me trying to get my message out to people in similar situations and saying 'This is not how to live your life, and you only  live once, and it's all a deception.' I want to break that falsehood."

Today, John -- who now goes by Yahya Abu Hassan ibn Sharaf -- remains in Syria and has become the highest ranking American in ISIS. Tania said she teaches her children that their father was wrong but motivated by deeply-held religious beliefs.

"I tell my little ones he joined the dark side of the force, and mommy was part of the dark side of the force, but now I'm a dark jedi," she said. "I don't really know how to paint a rosy picture of their dad to them. It seems difficult."

"In his alternate reality, he believes he's going to see his children again," she said. "I don't think he'll ever change his way of thinking because he's in so deep, and for him to change, I think that'll send him off the deep end," she added.

Tania concluded: "'A lot of people see me as someone very unlucky, but I see the glass half full. I'm alive, I got out of Syria and my children are happy, healthy and smart. I'm content."

It's estimated that about 250 Americans have gone to fight for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and the terrorist group has repeatedly used a number of Americans in its propaganda videos.

Tags : ISIS, Islamic State, Muslim, American ISIS fighter, Jihad