Beirut: Days after Lebanese officials claimed to have arrested the wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State jihadist organization, they continue to disagree with officials in Iraq who say the woman was never married to Baghdadi and has relatives in a rival extremist group.
Lebanese and American officials said this week that Lebanon had arrested the wife of Baghdadi and one of her children as they tried to enter Lebanon from Syria more than a week earlier.
Some Lebanese officials gave the woman’s name as Saja al-Dulaimi.
On Wednesday, however, a spokesman for Iraq’s Interior Ministry, Saad Maan, said in a statement that Dulaimi had never been married to Baghdadi but had a number of jihadist relatives.
Her brother, Omar, had been sentenced to death in Iraq for his role in bomb attacks but had escaped from prison and fled to Syria, where he was arrested by the Syrian government and later released in a prisoner swap involving a group of Syrian nuns, Maan said.
Dulaimi’s sister, Dua, had been arrested by the Kurdish authorities in Iraq while trying to carry out a suicide attack, and her father had fled Iraq and joined the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, Maan said.
Late on Wednesday, however, Lebanon’s interior minister, Nouhad Machnouk, told a local television station that Dulaimi had been married to Baghdadi six years ago, but only for three months.
Amid the disagreements over Dulaimi’s affiliations, it remained unclear why she tried to enter Lebanon or what information she might have that will help them fight the Islamic State. One former American military official doubted that Dulaimi could help pull back the curtain on the group, whose inner workings remain largely opaque.
During the Iraq war, the official said, U.S. forces arrested a wife of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the Qaida group that evolved into the Islamic State, but found she did not know much.
“We got little out of her and when we sent her back, Zarqawi killed her,” the official said.