Top western IS member was married to Bangladeshi-born Brit

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A top terrorist among the Islamic State’s ranks was married to a London-born woman of Bangladeshi origin, according to an exclusive The Atlantic report.

Joya Choudhury Tania, who has since returned to the UK having divorced the right-hand man of the recently killed IS chief strategist Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, married Yahya Abu Hassan when she was 20, before travelling to Syria with him.

Yahya is currently the most senior western member of the group.

Born John Georgelas to upper-middle class American-Greek parents in Texas, Yahya met Tania online in 2003 on a Muslim matrimonial site, according to the Atlantic report. Yahya abandoned his military family in Texas after converting to Islam in 2001.

Tania, born to a Bangladeshi immigrant father who worked as a postmaster, was to all intents and purposes westernised and with no interest in religion, reveals The Atlantic story. However, she became increasingly radicalised while studying for her A-levels in East London.

Though Tania’s parents and four siblings had apparently neglected their religion as they assimilated into British middle-class culture,

After meeting Yahya online, which was apparently not uncommon among her peers at college, Tania married him in 2003, later officially exchanging vows in Rochdale, pregnant at the time.


Within a year, however, the couple had surrounded themselves with radical Islamist preachers, such as Jordanian Abu Isa Al-Rifai.

After leaving London for Texas while pregnant with their first child, Yahya was sentenced to 34-month in prison for hacking the website of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, though Tania stood by him and awaited his release.

In 2011, Yahya’s parole expired and the couple moved to Egypt with their two sons, with Tania giving birth to a third not long after. It was here that the couple met European Islamists, as Yahya made a name for himself as something of a scholar.

The pair left Egypt after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government and Yahya took his family to Turkey.

 

Reports suggest Tania was unaware of the destination when her husband said he was taking the family on a trip – which turned out to be to Syria. She is one of around 800 Britons to have joined the radical group in Syria, approximately 100 of whom are thought to be women.

However, it did not last long and Tania abandoned Yahya not long afterwards in 2013, and, according to The Times, while heavily pregnant with her fourth child with him. After flying back to London, she ultimately returned to Dallas to live close to her mother and father-in-law. She divorced Yahya in 2014.

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