Turkey has captured a wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, more than a week after the formerIslamic Stateof Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) leader killed himself during a raid by US special forces.
“The United States said Baghdadi killed himself in a tunnel. They started a communication campaign about this,” Erdogan said.
“But I am announcing it here for the first time: We captured his wife and didn’t make a fuss like them. Similarly, we also captured his sister and brother-in-law in Syria,” he said in a speech at Ankara University. He gave no other details.
A senior Turkish official said earlier this week that Turkey had captured al-Baghdadi’s sister, her husband and daughter-in-law, and hoped to gain intelligence from them about ISIL, although Ankara has not said what knowledge they may have had about the group’s operations.
Al-Baghdadi rose from obscurity to lead the ultra-hardline group and declare himself caliph of all Muslims, holding sway over huge areas of Iraq and Syria from 2014-2017 before ISIL’s control was wrested away by a US-led coalition.
World leaders have welcomed his death, but they and security experts warned the group, which carried out atrocities against religious minorities and horrified most Muslims, remained a security threat in Syria and beyond.
Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said two of al-Baghdadi’s wives had also been killed at the site of last month’s raid.
The group said a successor to al-Baghdadi, identified as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, had been appointed. A senior USofficial said last week that Washington was looking into the new leader to determine where he came from.