The Lebanese military has detained a wife of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi along with one of their children, officials said on Tuesday.
The two were arrested around 10 days ago while attempting to cross into the country from Syria, according to a number of local sources, including the Arabic language As-Safir daily, which reported that there had been "coordination with foreign intelligence agencies."
Military officials cited by the Associated Press confirmed the arrest and said the wife, a Syrian citizen, was detained with fake identification and was now being questioned.
Reports initially suggested that the child was a son, however a senior security official told Reuters it was actually a daughter and that DNA tests had been taken place to confirm Baghdadi was the father.
Details of Baghdadi's personal life are scarce. He is believed to have at least one other wife, Iraqi Suja al-Dulaimi, whose existence was revealed when she was reportedly freed along with a number of other prisoners in exchange for the release of 13 Orthodox nuns who had been kidnapped by al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Strict Islamic law allows for as many as four wives.
Baghdadi himself is Iraqi and, according to an online biography distributed on jihadi message boards, graduated from Baghdad's Islamic University with a BA, MA and PhD.
IS controls large areas of Lebanon's neighbors Syria and Iraq and has been increasingly successful in recruiting and gaining support in the country itself. Security services have cracked down on the group's presence in Lebanon in response.
In August, IS, along with sometime-foe al-Nusra, overran the Lebanese border town of Arsal and captured at least 35 members of the security forces. The jihadists subsequently beheaded two of the hostages and, in exchange for the release of those remaining, demanded that Lebanese Shia militants Hezbollah withdraw from Syria — where they are fighting alongside government troops — and that Islamists being held by Lebanese authorities be released.
Beirut could well use the capture of Baghdadi's wife to bargain with IS for the release of these, and other, prisoners.
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