Lebanese security forces have detained a wife and son of the secretive leader of the Islamic State (IS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after they were discovered in a town near the Syrian border.
The woman, reported to be Baghdadi’s second wife, was arrested with her son by officers from Lebanese military intelligence after they were caught at the town of Aarsal attempting to cross the border with forged identity papers.
The pair are being held at the defence ministry’s headquarters in al-Yarza near Beirut and are being interrogated about their role within the Islamic State and and any information she may have about the whereabouts of Bahdadi.
The pair could prove to be a useful bargaining tool for Lebanon, with IS believed to currently hold at least 20 Lebanese soldiers as hostages, but their detention could also bring a renewed focus on attacks on the Lebanese border.
Baghdadi, known by supports as the “Caliph”, only makes very rare public appearances, having first appeared publicly in Mosul after the Iraqi city was captured by Is fighters in July, and most recently in June.
Rumours swirled last month that he may have been killed or seriously injured in an air strike, but in the days following the attack, IS released an audio message purporting to be from Baghdadi where he called on his follower to erupt as the “volcanoes of Jihad”. The authenticity of the recording cannot be conclusively proved, but analysts believe it to be genuine and relatively recent.