Why was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's estranged ex-wife involved in Lebanon's prisoner swap with Nusra?

Published December 1st, 2015 - 03:00 GMT
al-Dulaimi was imprisoned along with her four children--her 10-year-old daughter is rumored to be Baghdadi’s. (Facebook)
al-Dulaimi was imprisoned along with her four children--her 10-year-old daughter is rumored to be Baghdadi’s. (Facebook)

Reuters reported Tuesday that all 16 Lebanese servicemen were released by al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Nusra Front, in exchange for 13 extremist-affiliated people, including Daesh (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s estranged ex-wife, Saja al-Dulaimi, in a Qatari-brokered deal.

But Daesh and al-Nusra aren’t exactly allies—the groups clash regularly northern Syria and occasionally in the south. So the fact that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s ex-wife was thrown into the swap raised questions. Even her own lawyer, Hanna Geagea described the defendant as, “not as hefty a catch as we think,” according to the Daily Star.

However, the same Lebanese servicemen that were released Tuesday were captured in an Nusra-Daesh coordinated attack on Arsal, at the Lebanese-Syrian border, back in August 2014. Al-Dulaimi seemed confused, too.

In an interview with Qatar-based Al Jazeera, al-Dulaimi said, "My brother works for al-Nusra and they say that I am the ex-wife of al-Baghdadi, is what I heard[.] I divorced my husband seven years ago I don’t know if he is al-Baghdadi or not."

Here's the complete interview:


أول ظهور لزوجة أبو بكر #البغدادي السابقة سجى الدليمي

Posted by Khaberni on Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Officials cite that al-Dulaimi was married to Baghdadi in 2009 for a short three months, while other sources claim she was involved with the Daesh leader since 2005. Al-Dulaimi was captured by Lebanese authorities along with her four children last November after entering the country with forged identity cards with her current Palestinian husband, Kamal Khalaf. Her 10-year-old daughter is rumored to be the Daesh caliph's child. 

Twitter users are also wondering about the choice, while others are debating whether the negotiation swap was a good move. Check out a few below.

What is the relation between al-Nusra front and Baghdadi’s ex-wife!!! I am just wondering why they asked to include her in the deal.

Arab media said that al-Nusra front saved al- Baghdadi’s ex-wife while the truth is that her brother is a leader in al-Nusra front.

Coming back as martyrs with dignity was much better than what happened today, if you don’t like what I say just block me.

By Elizabeth Tarbell

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