In his new book THE WAY OF THE STRANGERS: Encounters with the Islamic State and in a piece at Atlantic.com titled, “The American Leader in the Islamic State”, national correspondent Graeme Wood reveals for the first time the identity of Yahya Abu Hassan—an ISIS scholar and propagandist, and perhaps successor to its second most-powerful figure—as an American. Until now, few people outside jihadi circles and the American intelligence community have even known of his existence.
Wood’s investigation traces the life, radicalization, and current role and influence Yahya has within the Islamic State. Yahya was born John Georgelas to a wealthy Greek Orthodox family in Texas with a long military tradition. He converted to Islam as a 17-year-old in 2001 and married a British Muslim extremist, and together they bonded over jihad and getting high. In 2011 they left the U.S. for Cairo, and in mid-2013 took their three children to Syria to join ISIS caliph Abu Bakral Ba