‘I had kids to serve God as terrorists’
A BRITISH-born woman married to the most senior American member of ISIS has revealed the details of her time in Syria and her new life as a mum in Dallas.
Tania Georgelas, 33, has spoken to The Atlantic about her dream for her children to become terrorists and the separation from her jihadi husband John Georgelas.
She said she and Mr Georgelas, an American-born convert to Islam who has risen high within ISIS, wanted to raise a family of 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.
She now lives in the outer suburbs of Dallas with her ex-husband's parents and attends a Unitarian church with her computer program boyfriend Craig.
Mrs Georgelas, one of five children born in London to a British-Bangladeshi couple, said her childhood was difficult.
"I faced a lot of racism. We had bad neighbours, they would smash our windows, but generally I just felt like an outsider.
"I was looking for a way to retaliate," she said.
Mrs Georgelas said the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, radicalised her.
"I was 17, I saw the towers being crashed into and I went to school the next day," she said.
"I said to my friend, 'Oh isn't it dreadful what happened,' and she looked at me and said: 'Is it really?'"
"At that point I became really jihadi hardcore," she said.
A few years later she met Mr Georgelas, the son of a former US military doctor, through a Muslim matchmaking forum.
She had discovered the website after attending an Iraqi war protest where Muslim men were distributing the site's address. The couple married in 2004.
Mr Georgelas had grown up in Texas and is believed to have rebelled as a teenager, using drugs, dropping out of school and converting to Islam shortly after the September 11 attacks.
They'd had three children and another on the way when, in 2013, they began discussing joining ISIS in Syria.
"I've had these children for one reason only, and that was so they could serve god as Muslims, as mujahideen," she recalls thinking.
Later in 2013 the family travelled to A'zaz in Syria where Mrs Georgelas and her children became very ill because there was little food or running water.
Her husband agreed to let her return to the US to live with his family in Texas where she then decided to divorce him.
He still lives in Syria and has become the highest ranking American in ISIS.
Eventually, Mrs Georgelas says, she decided to return to online dating, posting frank details about her past.
"I wrote an essay: 'I have four kids, my husband abandoned me to become the next Osama Bin Ladin'. I got 1,300 replies."
She then met Craig, an IT worker who became her new husband.
"She said right away that her husband was in IS, and I said 'OK, that's all right'." Craig said.
The couple now attends a Unitarian church. Mrs Georgelas says she'd like to work for a deradicalisation program that could help former terrorists.