She was once married to the top American in ISIS. Can she restart her life as a suburban mom?

Tania Georgelas escaped her jihadi lifestyle in 2013, leaving her American husband, who remains in ISIS. She is currently living in suburban Dallas. (Photo: YouTube/The Atlantic)

Tania Georgelas met and married John Georgelas in 2004. He is also known as Yahya al-Bahrumi, or Yahya the American, he is reportedly the top American in ISIS. Tania is British-Bangladeshi, grew up Muslim, and met John in her native U.K. John, who hails from Texas and is the son of a doctor in the U.S. military, converted to Islam shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 — coincidentally the same crucial moment in history when Tania herself was radicalized.

The saga of Tania and John is a long and winding one, but they effectively became a couple and soon enough a family with three children, dedicated to holy war and terrorism. By 2013, they made efforts to solidify their plans to join ISIS and left for Syria in August of that year. But after John, Tania, pregnant with their fourth child, and the rest of their children, finally arrived in Syria, she had a change of heart and escaped.

Through the help of her husband’s parents, Tania made it back to the United States, where she eventually divorced her husband, who remains in ISIS to this day.

The Atlantic magazine recently featured a profile of Tania, and the burning question throughout the not entirely revealing article remains: Has she really changed? She once lived her life to “raise a family and train them be assassins,” according to her own description.

The writer, Graeme Wood, observes notably:

And yet there are signs—not of violence, but of a permanent effect of her jihadist brainwashing. She once told me, offhandedly, that she thought the Shia were “not really Muslim”; ISIS is a radical Sunni group, and hatred of the Shia is central to its theology. She never said she wished to return to Syria, but she did lament that so many of the Islamic State’s followers are being bombed “just because they just want to live under a caliphate.” Lines like these come out after hours of perfectly normal conversation.

Despite the undertone and those remnants of years of a certain way of thinking, she currently exists within the trappings of a suburban existence. She’s dating a new man, who hails from the Midwest. They met on Match.com They go to church, and concerts, and wine bars. As the writer Wood puts it, “From the way she dresses, you’d think she spent the last decade reading Italian Vogue, not the Koran.”

And yet, she confesses to still having feelings for her jihadi ex-husband. ’I can’t help but love him,” she has said. “I don’t know how to make that feeling stop.”

At this particular juncture in what remains of the Georgelas couple, he ditched his American, Christian, suburban and wealthy heritage for life as a jihadi in ISIS. She did the reverse and spends her time looking for an identity in the suburbs of Dallas. How will their stories unfold?

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