Detained woman is not al-Baghdadi's wife, Iraqi official claims

Latest twist in international furore surrounding arrest of mysterious woman known as Saja al-Dulaimi

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The Independent Online

An Iraqi official has denied that the mystery woman detained in Lebanon is the wife of Isis leader al-Baghdadi, despite the Lebanese government’s claims.

Iraq's Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan Ibrahim’s statement to Associated Press will only add to the confusion surrounding the detention of a woman, named by Lebanese officials as Saja al-Dulaimi, and her child 10 days ago.

Following the announcement of the woman’s capture, Lebanese authorities claimed that the child travelling with her - a daughter or son depending on differing reports - had been DNA tested and was a positive match for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy Isis leader.

Instead Mr Ibrahim identified her as the sister of Omar Abdul Hamid al-Dulaimi, who is being held in Iraq as a terror suspect.

Footage has emerged of a woman thought to be Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, the wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Charles Lister visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, told The Daily Star: “Despite this being the same name as a woman released in exchange for the nuns in Maaloula in March, it is still to this day impossible to confirm that she is indeed Baghdadi’s wife”.

Trumpeted as a coup for the Lebanese government, who are currently attempting to extract a number of military personnel from Isis, also known as the Islamic State, contradictory information was quickly swirling.

Government officials told France24 that the woman was arrested with three children, not the single child widely reported.

Doubt has been cast upon al-Dulaimi matrimonial status, with regional Lebanese sources telling CNN that the woman was a current wife of the Islamic organisation’s leader but Washington sources told the same outlet that she was believed to be an ex-wife.

Information on al-Baghdadi is limited in the extreme. It is suspected he may have two Iraqi wives and a third, who is Syrian. Al-Dulaimi is the only one previously identified.

Mr Ibrahim alleges that al-Baghdadi has only two wives, Asma Fawzi Mohammed al-Dulaimi and Isra Mahal al-Qaisi, not Saja al-Dulaimi.

Al-Dulami is believed to have been among 50 women released from a Syrian government prison back in March, in exchange for 13 Christian nuns held by al-Nusra.

Little is known about her, aside from that she comes from a family of known militants and, according to the Iraqi interior ministry, her father is an active member of al-Nusra.

Her sister, Duaa Abdul Hamid al-Dulaimi, was detained for "attempting to blow herself up" in Irbil, while her brother has been sentenced to death for his part in Basra and al-Bathaa bombings.

It remains unclear what al-Dulaimi was doing in Lebanon. There was no immediate comment from Lebanese authorities.

Additional reporting from AP