Like many across the United States, upon hearing the news that Islamic State terror leader Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi had been cornered in Syria and died after detonating a suicide vest, Tania Joya was happy the “serial rapist” was dead.
“We are winning” the battle against radical Islam, Joya told Breitbart News.
Joya’s feelings about the death are more personal than most because she once not only lived in Syria among the jihadists, but was married to American ISIS leader John Georgelas, who changed his name to Yahya al-Bahrumi and answered al-Baghdadi’s call to declare a caliphate for radical Sunni Muslims.
Despite media reports that Georgelas is dead, Joya said no definitive proof has been provided.
Joya left Syria with the couple’s three children when she was pregnant with a fourth in 2013 — ten years after the couple met in the U.K. where she lived with her Bengali immigrant parents. They married shortly after meeting and eventually went to Syria to join the Islamic State.
“We both had a passion for jihad,” Joya told Breitbart News in July when she came to Washington, DC, with the Clarion Project for the screening of its chilling documentary, Kids: Chasing Paradise, which reveals how radical Islamists train children to become terrorists and commit suicide.
Breitbart News reported on her involvement with Clarion Project, which advocates against all forms of extremism:
Joya said she wanted to raise her future sons as “fearless men that would conquer for the sake of God and Islam.”
But by 2013 — when Joya was in Syria with her husband and three young children, and five-months pregnant — she wanted to get out of the country and the marriage.
Joya said she used Georgelas’s cell phone to call his parents in Texas to ask them to help her come to the United States. Joya told them to contact the federal agents familiar with her husband.
“If I don’t get help out of Syria you’re not just going to have just one American terrorist on your hands, you’re going to have five — my four sons and John,” Joya said.
Joya’s story is one of the misguided and dangerous embracing of radical Islam and the possible redemption that follows through a campaign of changing hearts and minds, especially when it comes to protecting children.
“Once I had children, I wanted to see them live,” Joya said. “I wanted to see them grow and give to the world, not destroy it.”
“And the last thing I wanted to do is bury them in my lifetime,” Joya said, adding that it shows how “evil” Baghdadi was to kill three of his children when he killed himself.
Joya now lives in the same Texas town as Georgelas’ parents, who share custody of the children. She said she was able to reenter the United States because all of the couple’s children are U.S. citizens and she agreed to share information with federal authorities.
Joya said that the death of al-Baghdadi is a major blow for ISIS, which reportedly has picked a replacement for the man who declared a caliphate in 2014 and led the terror group, which at one point controlled large swatches of land in Syria and Iraq.
But under President Donald Trump, ISIS has been broken up and beaten back and many ISIS fighters have been killed, including al-Baghdadi, the terrorist group’s spiritual leader.
“Killing Baghdadi is a win for our side,” Joya told Breitbart News, adding that she is a living example of how hearts and minds can be changed. She wants now to help others who are caught up in radical Islam and to see those like her former husband pay from their atrocities.
“These savage monsters will not escape their fate, and they will not escape the final judgment of God,” Trump said about ISIS and Baghdadi’s demise.
“Baghdadi was vicious and violent, and he died in a vicious and violent way, as a coward, running and crying,” Trump said.
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