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Confusion Surrounds Capture Of "ISIS Leader's Wife"

After it was claimed yesterday the Lebanese army had detained Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's wife and son near the Syrian border, it has now emerged the detained woman may not be married to the ISIS leader after all.

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An Iraqi official today denied that a woman detained in Lebanon yesterday is the wife of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as confusion continues to reign over the identity of a woman and child captured by the Lebanese army near the border with Syria, AP reported.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan Ibrahim told AP that the woman in question was indeed called Saja al-Dumani, as reported yesterday. However, Ibrahim said she is not al-Baghdadi's wife, as Lebanese officials had claimed. Instead, she is the sister of Omar Abdul Hamid al-Dumani, an Iraqi terror suspect being held by authorities in the country, Ibrahim said.

BuzzFeed News' report from yesterday follows below.

The Lebanese army says it has detained the wife of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi close to the country's border with Syria, the BBC reported. A child has also reportedly been detained.

AP Photo/Militant video, File

A file image made from video posted on a militant website shows the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq.

Although their identities have not officially been made public, Reuters is reporting that the woman in question is an Iraqi named Saja al-Dulaimi, citing a security official and a senior political source. She is one of 150 women released from a Syrian government jail as part of a prisoner swap for 13 nuns held by al-Qaeda–linked Syrian militants in March.

The al-Safir newspaper said that Baghdadi's wife was currently being interrogated by Lebanon's Defense Ministry, the BBC reported.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether the child is Baghdadi's daughter or son. The security official cited by Reuters said it is his daughter, and that DNA tests have been carried out to confirm she is Baghdadi's child. However, the BBC is reporting that the child is his son.

It is also unclear when the pair were detained by Lebanese authorities, with Reuters saying it occurred "in recent days," while a source told AFP they were taken near Arsal 10 days ago.

Speaking to CNN, terror expert and Director at the Asia Pacific Foundation Sajjan M. Cohel said, "It's certainly a new dynamic because we've never seen anybody connected so close to al-Baghdadi being detained."

However, Cohel questioned what the pair were doing in Lebanon: "Is he estranged from them? Has he fallen out with them? Were they escaping from him?"

Very little is known about al-Baghdadi. He has not been seen in public since June, and last month ISIS denied reports that he had been injured or killed by an air strike by U.S.–lead forces near Mosul.

Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Francis Whittaker at

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