The Lebanese military says it has captured a wife and daughter of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (pictured), leader of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) around Lebanon’s border with Syria.
Lebanon is one of the countries heavily affected by the influx of refugees from Syria as a result of the conflict in that country.
Reuters said a senior Lebanese official disclosed that the woman, whose name is Saja al-Dulaimi, is an Iraqi, adding that DNA tests were conducted to verify if the child was actually an offspring of Baghdadi.
Both captives are undergoing investigations at the headquarters of the Lebanese defense ministry in the northern part of the country.
Dulaimi was said to be one of the 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 Qaeda-linked militants in Syria.
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 also arrested dozens of Islamic militants suspected of staging attacks to expand Islamic State’s influence in Lebanon.
Commenting on the development, Sajjan Gohel, a terrorism expert, told CNN that Lebanese authorities had been cracking down very heavily on the border to prevent members of ISIS seeping into Lebanon.
“They don’t want the problems spilling over from Iraq and Syria into their territory,” he said.
“It’s certainly a new dynamic because we’ve never seen anybody connected so close to al-Baghdadi being detained. Is he estranged from them? Has he fallen out with them? Were they escaping from him?”
The number of wives and children of Al-Baghdadi, who broke away from al Qaeda after the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, is not known.
In June, ISIS announced the creation of a caliphate led by al-Baghdadi, saying it would now refer to itself simply as the Islamic State.
Al-Baghdadi, whose group has imposed its extremist version of Islam on wide swathes of Iraq and Syria, is believed to frequently travel between both countries.
The group’s extremism has provoked a campaign of airstrikes from the United States and other nations.
President Barack Obama has vowed to destroy the group and the US Department of State has placed a bounty of $10 million on Al-Baghdadi.