Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BEIRUT - The Lebanese army detained a wife and daughter of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as they crossed from Syria nine days ago, security officials said on Tuesday, in a setback to the group as it comes under increased military pressure.
The woman was identified her as Saja al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi, by a senior Lebanese political source and security official.
The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir
reported she had been detained in coordination with "foreign intelligence".
The arrest is a blow to Baghdadi and could be used as a bargaining chip against his group, which has captured many foreign, Iraqi and Syrian prisoners and declared a caliphate across territory it has seized in Syria and Iraq.
A senior Lebanese security official said Baghdadi's wife had been traveling with one of their daughters, contradicting earlier reports that it was his son. DNA tests were conducted to verify it was Baghdadi's child, the official said.
They were detained in northern Lebanon. Investigators were questioning her at the headquarters of the Lebanese defense ministry. There was no immediate reaction from Islamic State websites.
Dulaimi was one of 150 women released from a Syrian government jail in March as part of a prisoner swap that led to the release of 13 nuns taken captive by al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria.
Islamic State has seized wide areas of Iraq and Syria, Lebanon's neighbor to the east.
The Lebanese security forces have cracked down on the group's sympathizers and the intelligence services have been extra vigilant on the borders with Syria.
They have arrested over the past few months dozens of Islamic militants suspected of staging attacks to expand Islamic State influence in Lebanon.
A US-led alliance is seeking to roll back Islamic State's territorial gains in Iraq and Syria. U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed to "degrade and ultimately destroy" Baghdadi's group, which is seeking to reshape the Middle East according to its radical vision of Islam.