As more women abandon the safety of their homes to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), new details have emerged on one of the militant group’s most important female affiliate, Saja al-Dulaimi.
Dulaimi, believed to have been married to elusive ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at a point in time, was detained by Lebanese authorities last year and has since been held in a jail near Beirut.
The Daily Mail reported that the Iraqi-born woman is well-connected to the group and has been linked to several prominent militants, by marriage and family relations, in Iraq and Syria.
The “striking beauty,” as described by a Lebanese official, is the daughter of a high-ranking extremist militant believed to have facilitated her marriage to Baghdadi to solidify an alliance.
While she has denied her marriage to the militant chief during questioning by Lebanese officers, DNA tests show her 5-year-old daughter, who was with her when she was captured, is Baghdadi’s child.
The two have disclosed little information since their capture, suggesting that they had been trained not to crack under intense interrogation, the British daily reported. Military officials have described her as strong-willed and independent, the Washington Post reported.
Dulaimi is of special interest considering her activity and affiliation to Islamist groups, which is unusual for the wives of extremist militants.
Her marriage to Baghdadi six years ago was short-lived, lasting only three months, Sheikh Hassan al-Dulaimi, a prominent elder from the same tribe as Saja, told the Washington Post in January.
Before wedding the ISIS chief, she was married to another Iraqi with whom she had two sons.
Upon her capture, Dulaimi was charged in a Lebanese military court with financing and aiding terrorist activity, she has been denied access to a lawyer.
She was reportedly based in the Lebanese town of Arsal, which saw clashes between Islamist groups and Lebanese forces last year, and is suspected of moving money to militants operating along Lebanon’s border with Syria.
She reportedly received more than $200,000 in wire-transfers and through charity organizations, a sum she then distributed to fighters, a senior military intelligence official said.
Dulaimi used her gender to her advantage as conservative Lebanese traditions make soldiers at checkpoints hesitant of searching women and girls at border crossings, helping her conceal money meant for militants.
Along with her daughter, Dulaimi is still detained, but unlike other militants whose families had been captured by authorities, Baghdadi has not issued any threats demanding her release.SHOW MORE