The announcement comes after a senior official for the Turkish government reported the capture of the former Islamic State group leader’s elder sister, calling the development an intelligence “gold mine.”
Turkey has captured a wife of the slain leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
Erdogan made the announcement while delivering a speech in the capital of Ankara but gave no other details. He did not say when or how the woman was captured or identify her by name.
Al-Baghdadi was known to have four wives. One of his aides has said the shadowy IS leader had four wives, the maximum number he can have at one time under Islamic law.
“We caught his wife, but we didn’t make a fuss about it. I am announcing this today for the first time,” Erdogan said, while criticizing the United States for leading a “communications campaign” about Baghdadi’s slaying.
The IS leader blew himself up during an Oct. 26 raid by U.S. special forces on his heavily fortified safe house in the Syrian province of Idlib.
Erdogan’s announcement comes just days after Turkish forces captured al-Baghdadi’s elder sister, identified as Rasmiya Awad, in the town of Azaz, in Aleppo province in northwestern Syria. Turkey has seized on both incidents to highlight what it says is its fight against the IS group, in the face of accusations that the Turkish military offensive last month to drive Syrian Kurdish fighters from northeast Syria would allow for a resurgence of the militant Islamic group.
Azaz is part of a region administered by Turkey following previous military incursions to chase away IS militants and Kurdish fighters, starting in 2016. Allied Syrian groups manage the area known as the Euphrates Shield zone.
Awad was with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children when she was detained. A Turkish official said the 65-year-old sister is suspected of being affiliated with the extremist group and called her capture an intelligence “gold mine.” Authorities had posted a picture of the sister.
It was not Immediately clear if Awad’s capture led to intelligence that allowed for the detention of the wife.
One of al-Baghdadi’s wives is an Iraqi known by the name of Nour, the daughter of one of his aides, Abu Abdullah al-Zubaie. She was identified by name by al-Baghdadi’s brother-in-law in a recent interview with al-Arabiya TV. The brother-in-law, Mohamad Ali Sajit, who is in Iraqi custody, said al-Baghdadi had four wives when he last met him, sometime last summer.
Also, one of al-Baghdadi’s ex-wives was arrested in Lebanon in 2014, and was freed a year later in a prisoner swap with al-Qaida. The Iraqi ex-wife, Saja al-Dulaimi, had fled from al-Baghdadi in 2009 while pregnant with his daughter. At one point, al-Baghdadi was also believed to have married to a German teenager in 2015 but she was reported to have fled a year later.