The former bride of the Islamic State's highest-ranking American member has recounted how she and her husband planned to raise their kids to become jihadi fighters.
Tania Georgelas, a mother of four, revealed in a recent interview with The Atlantic how she became radicalized as a teenager in England and later moved to Syria with her husband John Georgelas, who became the most senior American member of ISIS.
She recalled how she faced racism while growing up as a British-Bangladeshi in London, and how that fueled her hatred for the west.
"I faced a lot of racism. I was looking for a way to retaliate, and I wanted honor again," she said.
Tania said that her turning point came after she saw thousands die in the 9/11 attacks in New York.
"I was 17, I saw the towers being crashed into and I went to school the next day. 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 recounted.
While attending a protest march against the Iraq war, she was handed details of a Muslim matchmaking website, where she eventually met John, a Texas native who had converted to Islam shortly after 9/11.
The couple got married in 2004, when Tania was pregnant with their first child. She was reportedly five months pregnant with their fourth child in 2013 when John discussed plans to join ISIS in Syria. "John wanted to go to Syria, and I said I wasn't ready, not while the kids are small," she said.
She recalled that her husband had promised to stay in Syria for no more than two weeks. However, Tania fell sick shortly after they arrived, and John had sent her back to live with his parents in Plano, Texas.
Tania narrated that she initially felt isolated when she had returned to the country that she hated. "I was very depressed that I'm in a society for so many years though was evil," Tania said. "I've had these children for one reason only, and that was so they could serve God as Muslims, as mujahideen," she added.
But the ideology of ISIS seemed to have its appeal lessen on Tania since her return, and she soon decided to file for divorce. Upon her return to online dating, Tania met Craig, an IT worker who does not seem to mind her strange past.
Tania has since left Islam and is now attending Craig's Unitarian church. She has also started taking online college courses with the aim of working for anti-radicalization efforts.
She admitted that she still has feelings for her radicalized former husband, but she teaches her children that their father was wrong but was motivated by a twisted sense of justice.