Yahya Abu Hassan, one of the Islamic State's (Isis) most wanted members, was radicalised in the UK and married to a London-born woman of Bengali origin, it has been revealed.
Joya Choudhury, who has since returned to the UK having divorced the propaganda chief, married Abu Hassan, aged 20, before travelling to Syria with him.
Abu Hassan, born John Georgelas to upper-middle class American-Greek parents in Texas, met Choudhury online in 2003 on a Muslim matrimonial site, according to Graeme Wood, writing for the Atlantic. The 20-year-old was said to have been a rebellious teenager like Georgelas, who abandoned his military family in Texas after converting to Islam in 2001.
Choudhury – who was born to a Bangladeshi immigrant father who worked as a postmaster – was known as Tania and was to all intents and purposes westernised and with no interest in religion. Though Joya's parents and four siblings had apparently neglected their religion as they assimilated into British middle-class culture, Choudhury became increasingly radicalised while studying for her A levels in East London.
After meeting Georgelas online, which was apparently not uncommon among her peers at college, Choudhury married him in 2003, later officially exchanging vows in Rochdale, heavily pregnant at the time, according to the Times. 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, Georgelas was sentenced to 34 months in prison for hacking the website of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, though Choudhury stood by him and awaited his release.
In 2011, Georgelas' parole expired and the couple moved to Egypt with their two sons, with Joya giving birth to a third not long after. It was here that the couple met European Islamists, as Georgelas made a name for himself as something of a scholar.
The pair left Egypt after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government and Gorgelas took his family to Turkey.
Reports suggest Joya 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 Brits to have joined the radical group in Syria, approximately 100 of whom are thought to be women.
However, it did not last long and Choudhury abandoned Georgelas 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 who the Times says now care for her four children.
Choudhury divorced Georgelas in 2014. She now describes herself as a "left-wing libertarian and spiritual seeker" on her Twitter profile the newspaper says. Georgelas, meanwhile, is the most senior western member of the group.