Lebanese Army Says It Arrested a Wife of ISIS Leader

Dec 02, 2014 at 11:20 AM ET

The Lebanese army says it has arrested one of the wives of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), the world’s most notorious jihadi group.

The woman, an Iraqi national named Saja al-Dulaimi, was traveling with Baghdadi’s 9-year-old daughter. They both were arrested roughly a week ago as they tried to cross into northern Lebanon from Syria, the army says.

A senior member of the Lebanese army, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says Dulaimi and her daughter are being held at a Defense Ministry facility near Beirut. Dulaimi is allegedly not cooperating with the investigation led by Lebanese army intelligence, and several media outlets have stated that she is being outright hostile.

Lebanese daily As-Safir first reported the arrest, noting that the operation was undertaken with the help of “foreign intelligence agencies.”

Dulaimi was arrested in a part of northern Lebanon where there are small pockets of support for ISIS. It remains unclear how much information she may have about Baghdadi or the operations of his jihadi group.

As word spread of the arrest earlier today, some are holding out hope that Dulaimi and her daughter can be used in a prisoner swap for 27 Lebanese police and army troops who have been held since last summer by ISIS and the Nusra Front in the rugged mountains straddling the Lebanon-Syria border. Several of the prisoners have been executed over the past few months, and their families have staged sit-ins across the country.

Despite the power and notoriety he’s acquired, details about Baghdadi’s life remain murky. He was born in the Iraqi city of Samarra and is said to be in his early 40s. Reuters, citing Iraqi tribal sources, reported that Baghdadi has three wives. The U.S. detained the ISIS leader in early 2004 at Iraq’s infamous Camp Bucca detention center, which became a breeding ground for many of the most ardent jihadis fighting in Iraq and Syria today.

ISIS has yet to publicly respond to news of Dulaimi’s arrest, but some of the group’s reporters online denied the Lebanese army’s claims.