Tania Georgelas’ story is an incredible inversion of the typical American dream.
A London native who was raised Muslim, Tania turned to extremism growing up. When she married John Georgelas, a Texan-born white man who’d converted to ISIS’ extremist views, the two wanted to raise a family of jihadi warriors.
After John worked his way up in ISIS ranks, they moved to Syria in 2013 with their family to aid ISIS in its takeover. According to the Atlantic, only John is still there. With the help of John’s parents, Tania took their children and fled Syria to Plano, Texas, where she lives today.
Since coming to Texas, she’s cut all ties to her former husband, filing for divorce and becoming, as the Atlantic report describes it, a “Texas society woman.” She no longer practices the extremist branch of Islam she was raised under, and instead attends a Unitarian church just outside of Dallas.
Tania has a new boyfriend with a career in IT. They go to concerts and wine bars together, and have built a completely different life than the one she led before. She says she wants to work for an anti-radicalization group and help people brainwashed into terrorism change their ways.
The direction Tania’s life has taken becomes even more stark when compared to her ex-husband’s. He grew up as an American Christian in a stable home, and now rages against his homeland as part of ISIS. Tania was born in opposite circumstances, and ended up in America, forsaking anything to do with her extremist past.
“…if the Georgelases’s saga teaches anything,” writes Graeme Wood for the Atlantic, “it is that people change, and that our capacity for self-reinvention can be immense.”