The Lebanese authorities just detained a wife and child of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to Lebanese government sources. But who are they? And what does their detention mean for the fight against ISIS? Here's what we know about this rare window into the self-proclaimed Caliph's personal life.
According to The Guardian's sources in the Lebanese government, the detained wife's name is Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi. She's Iraqi, and had allegedly been captured before, in Syria; the Syrian government reportedly released her in March as part of a prisoner swap for nuns held by Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate.
However, the captured wife may not actually be Dulaimi. AFP, citing an unspecified security source, claims that the detained wife is a different woman who is Syrian — "his second wife," according to the official. Baghdadi is rumored to have three wives: two Iraqi, one Syrian.
Regardless of the wife's identity, the Financial Times reports that a wife of Baghdadi is "the person closest to the jihadi group's leadership to be captured." That means that her interrogation could end up being fairly significant: even if she knows nothing about ISIS operations, she should be able to clear up some of the details about Baghdadi's personal life.
Publicly demystifying Baghdadi would be, at the very least, embarrassing for the Caliph, who prefers to keep himself mysterious. It might even put a dent in ISIS's international recruiting. "He's managed this secret persona extremely well, and it's enhanced his group's prestige," said Patrick Johnston of the RAND Corporation told NBC in June. "Young people are really attracted to that."
However, Lebanese authorities may not be interested, first and foremost, in interrogating the detained wife. When ISIS and al-Qaeda attacked Arsal, a Lebanese town, in early August, they captured about 35 Lebanese soldiers. ISIS has killed some of these prisoners in gruesome beheadings. It's very possible that Lebanon will attempt to trade the captured wife and child for their people.
We know even less about the child than we do about the wife. We don't even know its sex: some reports say the child is Baghdadi's son, others his daughter. Some reports say the child is eight years old. Reportedly, Lebanese authorities are running DNA tests to confirm the child's parentage.