On Tuesday, Lebanese authorities detained what they believed were the wife and son of Islamic State “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Officials now state that DNA tests have confirmed Lebanon has, in custody, al-Baghdadi’s daughter and ex-wife. Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk told Lebanon’s MTV that the mother of the child is one of al-Baghdadi’s many ex-wives.
Iraqi officials have denied that the woman–named Saja al-Dulaimi–was, in fact, the wife of the IS leader. They said their intelligence indicated she was not a relative of al-Baghdadi but a daughter of a rival al-Nusra militant. Iraqi officials claimed that al-Dulaimi was previously held by Syrian authorities but later released in a prisoner exchange deal with the al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliated group.
“Dulaimi is not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s wife currently. She has been married three times: first to a man from the former Iraqi regime, with whom she had two sons,” said the Lebanese Interior Minister. “Six years ago she married Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for three months, and she had a daughter with him. Now, she is married to a Palestinian and she is pregnant with his child.”
He continued: “We conducted DNA tests on her and the daughter, which showed she was the mother of the girl, and that the girl is [Baghdadi’s] daughter, based on DNA from Baghdadi from Iraq.”
Another Lebanese authority told the BBC that having al-Baghdadi’s family in custody is a “powerful card to apply pressure” in negotiating the release of captive Lebanese soldiers.