This Article is From Dec 02, 2014

Lebanon 'Detains Wife and Son' Of Islamic State Chief

Lebanon 'Detains Wife and Son' Of Islamic State Chief

File Photo: Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Agence France-Presse photo)

Beirut: Lebanon has detained a wife and young son of Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed "Caliph" of the brutal jihadist organisation, security and military sources said Tuesday.

The pair were detained by military intelligence 10 days ago near the town of Arsal close to the border with Syria, a security source told AFP.

The woman is a Syrian national, and her son is around eight years old, according to a military source who confirmed the arrest.

It is not known how many wives and children Baghdadi has, but Islamic law allows men to marry four women and the Islamic State (IS) group has encouraged its members to wed more than once.

Lebanese daily As-Safir, which first reported the arrest, said it was carried out "in coordination with foreign intelligence agencies".

It said the woman was travelling on a false passport, without saying where the document purported to be from.

The security source said the wife and child were taken to the Defence Ministry headquarters in Yarze, just outside the capital Beirut, "where investigations were continuing."

He said the arrest had been kept secret while security arrangements were made.

Under Baghdadi's leadership, IS has become arguably the most brutal, powerful and wealthiest jihadist organisation in the world.

He revived the fortunes of Iraq's struggling Al Qaeda affiliate and turned it into the independent IS group, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, carrying out atrocities in both countries.

Baghdadi was put on the US "terrorism" watchlist in October 2011, and there is a $10 million (eight million euro) bounty for his capture.

In June, he was declared a "Caliph" in an attempt to revive a system of rule that ended nearly 100 years ago with the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

US officials say he was born in 1971 in Iraq, and joined the insurgency that erupted shortly after the 2003 US-led invasion.

He spent time in an American military prison in the country, and is believed to have taken the reins of IS's predecessor, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), in 2010, after two of its chiefs were killed in a raid.

The alleged capture of his wife and son comes as Lebanon struggles to secure the release of 27 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held hostage by IS and the Al-Nusra Front jihadist group.

The security force members were captured when the jihadists briefly overran Arsal in August, sparking fierce battles with Lebanese troops.

Three have been executed so far, and the jihadists have threatened to kill the remaining hostages unless there is a deal to free Islamist prisoners in Lebanon.

Qatar has reportedly sought to mediate negotiations for their release but without success so far.

Lebanon has tried to insulate itself from the war that has engulfed neighbouring Syria, as well as the threat posed by jihadist groups like IS and Al-Nusra.

But the conflict has regularly spilled over into the tiny Mediterranean country, which is hosting more than one million Syrian refugees.