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IS leader Baghdadi's wife and son detained crossing to Lebanon from Syria: army

Lebanese security officials said they have arrested Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's wife and son as they entered Lebanon from Syria
Image of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi giving a sermon in a mosque in the Iraq's Mosul (YouTube screen-grab)

Lebanon’s army has arrested the wife of Islamic State (IS) group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Lebanese security officials said on Tuesday.

The woman – who was not identified by name – was detained as she crossed into Lebanon from Syria, Reuters reported. She is reportedly being held along with her son.

“Military intelligence detained one of his [Baghdadi’s] wives, who was travelling with their son, near [Lebanese border town] Arsal 10 days ago,” a security source told AFP.

The security source said the wife and child - around eight years old - were taken to the defence ministry headquarters in Yarze "where investigations were continuing."

Local newspaper As-Safir said the army had arrested the woman in “coordination with foreign intelligence apparatus”.

It was not immediately clear why Baghdadi’s wife was travelling from Syria to Lebanon.

In July Saja al-Duleimi was revealed as the wife of Baghdadi, when she was released in a prisoner exchange between Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and militant group Jabhat al-Nusra.

Assad’s forces reportedly released some 150 Syrian female prisoners, as well as one Iraqi with three children, in exchange for Nusra freeing 13 nuns from the Christian town of Maaloula.

Video published by Al Arabiya purported to show grainy images of Duleimi being handed over to Nusra fighters, along with three children. At the time a Syrian activist – Hadi al-Abdullah – confirmed the video as being authentic.

It is not known how many wives Baghdadi has.

The IS group led by Baghdadi controls swathes of Syria and Iraq, with headquarters based in the north-east Syrian city of Raqqa. It has been the subject of US-led coalition air strikes, backed by regional powers seeking to “degrade” the group’s strength.

Earlier in November conflicting reports emerged that Baghdadi had been injured, and a close aide killed, in a US bombing raid. Iraqi state television reported the news, backed up by a tweet from an account linked to IS spokesperson Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.

Baghdadi then released a speech on 13 November. In it he called for IS supporters to attack Saudi Arabia, as well as Shiite Muslims.

The IS leader is a 43-year-old Iraqi from Samarra, north of Baghdad, and was detained for four years by the Americans during their occupation of Iraq. He emerged as a leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which later became known as IS, in 2010 and has been described as a “ruthless battlefield tactician” by the BBC.