Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Confusion continued on Wednesday over Lebanese authorities’ arrest of a woman alleged to be the wife of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, with Iraq’s Defense Ministry denying that the woman in custody was the ISIS chief’s spouse.
“The one detained by Lebanese authorities was Saja Abdul Hamid Al-Dulaimi, sister of Omar Abdul Hamid Al-Dulaimi who is detained by authorities and sentenced to death for his participation in [a bomb attack],” Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan told Reuters on Wednesday.
Lebanese security officials on Tuesday claimed to have detained the wife and daughter of Baghdadi as they crossed from Syria in late November, although the news was subsequently denied by other media outlets. Uncertainty continues to reign over whether or not Saja Al-Duleimi is married to Baghdadi, particularly given that the ISIS leader reportedly has more than one wife.
“The wives of the terrorist Al-Baghdadi are Asmaa Fawzi Mohammed Al-Dulaimi and Esraa Rajab Mahel Al-Qaisi, and there is no wife in the name of Saja Al-Dulaimi,” Maan told Reuters.
However, a senior Lebanese military official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the women arrested on Tuesday was indeed the wife of the ISIS leader, adding that the lack of information from Beirut over her arrest and subsequent confusion over her true identity was due to “security concerns.”
“She is without a doubt the wife of Baghdadi,” the Lebanese military official said, although he denied that she was arrested with her daughter, adding that she had been accompanied by a boy below the age of 10.
The source refused to divulge whether the child was Baghdadi’s son. “This issue does not concern us security-wise because we cannot obtain any information from him,” he said, adding that the pair had not been separated. “The child came with her and he will remain with her.”
Lebanese media, citing unnamed sources, claimed that DNA samples matched ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi with three children in Lebanese custody detained alongside Saja Al-Dulaimi.
Additional reporting from Beirut by Caroline Akoum.