Bangladesh-born Islamic State fighter Neaz Morshed Raja, who appeared in a recent propaganda video encouraging suicide attacks, had long been associated with the Salafist group’s upper-echelon through American Muslim convert John Georgelas.
Raja was also acquainted with Georgelas’ then wife Joya Chudhury Tania, a London-born woman of Bangladeshi origin who abandoned the top IS leader in late 2013 and divorced him the following year, according to Australian newspaper The Australian.
Texas-based Georgelas has now become a top leader of the IS group after the death of its external operations boss Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.
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Son of a former US Air Force doctor and the grandson of an American World War II veteran, Georgelas converted to Islam in 2001 and married Joya in London in 2003. Georgelas went to Syria along with Joya and their two children in 2011.
He took the kunya (alias) Yahya Abu Hassan.
Raja meanwhile went missing from Dhaka on March 4, 2015 and died carrying out a suicide attack in Tikrit, Iraq on October 12 the same year, according to the IS video released on March 15 this year.
He was identified in the video as Abu Maryam al-Bengali.
After completing his A levels from Sunshine Grammar School and College, Chittagong, Raja went to Australia to study business and IT at Victoria’s Deakin University, where he could not finish his studies.
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He returned to Dhaka in 2010, and became very quiet and religious, and got married the following year. He worked for a Dhaka-based buying house, HAH Corporation, according to his Facebook profile.
In 2012, Raja communicated online with Joya to tell her about the birth of his daughter and his growing family, reports The Australian.
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Raja also tagged Georgelas under a picture of his daughter that he posted to Facebook the same year.
After Joya and their children left Georgelas in Syria in late 2013, she told Raja that he had a “beautiful family”.
Raja disappeared all of a sudden on March 4, 2015, telling his wife he was going to the mosque.
He was reportedly radicalised in Australia and was linked to another former Australian university student ATM Tajuddin, now in Syria.
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The IS declared a Caliphate on June 30, 2014.
The latest IS video shows Raja as Abu Maryam al-Bengali sitting in an armoured vehicle covered in steel plates – the type used in car bombs to avoid being shot before reaching the target site.
It had been apparently recorded just before the suicide attack targeting Shia Muslims in Tikrit.
The Salafist group has claimed 27 attacks in Bangladesh since September 2015. The latest was a suicide attack on RAB barracks in Ashoka of Dhaka last week that came only a day after an IS video called for lone wolf suicide attacks in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh government refuses the existence of any organisational strength of IS in Bangladesh and term them members of a new faction of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a militant organisation banned in 2005.