The Arrest of the ISIS Leader's Former Wife and Child

The family members of the Islamic State's Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were reportedly detained in Lebanon.

Updated on December 4, 2014

On Tuesday, news spread about the arrest and interrogation of family members of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Lebanon. On Wednesday, Lebanon's interior minister confirmed the detention of a woman he said had been married to the ISIS leader for three months six years ago.

Details about the development are still coming into focus. The AP and others first reported that Lebanese officials had detained Baghdadi's wife and son, but the child was later confirmed to be the ISIS leader's daughter and the woman his former wife. The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir noted that the operation was conducted with the involvement of “foreign intelligence.” As Reuters reported, Baghdadi is believed to have three wives currently, "two Iraqis and one Syrian."

According to a security source quoted in AFP, the woman and child were "taken to the defense ministry headquarters in Yarze, just outside the capital Beirut, 'where investigations were continuing.'" The source added that the arrests had been kept under wraps so that security arrangements could be made.

It's unclear how useful these arrests will ultimately be, but they come as Lebanese authorities attempt to secure the release of 20 soldiers who are currently being held captive by Islamist groups. By some accounts, the capture of Baghdadi's family members provides the Lebanese government with a valuable bargaining chip.

This is already proving to be a bad week for ISIS. While the United States and Turkey had been rumored to be close to a deal to coordinate efforts against the Islamic State, on Tuesday, the Iraqi government reached a once-elusive agreement with the Kurds on both oil sharing and military cooperation in the campaign to fight ISIS.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who took over for the divisive Nuri al-Maliki, is receiving plaudits for his role in bringing the Kurds back into the fold and at least temporarily staving off a Kurdish push for independence.