Baghdadi's ex-wife awaits status approval in Lebanon

Published December 29th, 2015 - 07:29 GMT

The ex-wife of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released in a prisoner swap earlier this month, is still in the country awaiting settlement of her legal status, judicial sources told The Daily Star Monday. Saja al-Dulaimi’s defense attorney, Mary Lin Geagea, appeared before the Military Tribunal to represent her client.

The hearing was Dulaimi’s first following her release in a prisoner exchange between Lebanon and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. The swap secured the release of 16 Lebanese security servicemen that were captured by the group, in exchange for Islamist prisoners.

The Lebanese security servicemen were captured when militants from Daesh and the Nusra Front briefly overran the northeastern town of Arsal in August 2014. After more than a year of negotiations, the Nusra-held hostages were released. Nine servicemen are still being held by Daesh.

Dulaimi remains in Lebanon and is heavily guarded. Legal procedures are underway that would eventually result in her boarding a plane to Turkey, as per the terms of the prisoner exchange.

Her trial has been adjourned until March 21, as has that of her Palestinian husband, Kamal Khalaf, and another Palestinian national, Louay Darwish. The men are charged with belonging to an armed terrorist organization intent on conducting terrorist activities.

Dulaimi is also charged with falsifying identity documents belonging to her and her children and using them to move about Lebanon. Both Palestinian nationals also face charges of fraud, as Khalaf allegedly forged Darwish’s Palestinian refugee identity card. Darwish was reportedly complicit in the forgery.

The trial was adjourned so that the suspects would be brought to the hearing in person. Dulaimi has been incarcerated for a year and four months, and gave birth in prison. She would be made to appear before the court if she stays in Lebanon until that date.

By Youssef Diab

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