Al-Baghdadi’s sister, five children captured
Published: 11:15 AM, 5 November 2019
The sister of slain Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been captured in northern Syria, Turkish officials say.
The 65-year-old, named as Rasmiya Awad, and her five children were detained in a raid on Monday on a container near the town of Azaz, the officials said, adding that she, her husband and daughter-in-law, who were also detained, are being interrogated by Turkish security forces.
Turkish officials, cited by multiple media outlets, said the arrest could yield valuable intelligence about IS.
In late October, Al-Baghdadi killed himself during a raid by US special forces on his compound in Syria's Idlib province. IS leaders' death was hailed as a victory for US President Donald Trump, but critics argue that IS remains a security threat in Syria and elsewhere.
A senior Turkish official told Reuters news agency the arrest of Baghdadi's older sister may help shed light on "the inner workings of ISIS".
Baghdadi had five brothers and several sisters, although it is not clear if they are all still alive, the New York Times reports.
The arrest was reportedly made in Aleppo province, which is controlled by Turkey after it launched an operation in the area last month.
Rasmiya was found in a trailer, where she was living with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children, a Turkish official told AP news agency, adding that she was being interrogated on suspicion of involvement with an extremist group.
The official said that Rasmiya could be an intelligence "gold mine".
Experts say it is not clear how much useful intelligence Rasmiya could provide, or how much time she spent with Baghdadi.
On 27 October, President Trump announced the death of Baghdadi at a press conference at the White House. Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest after fleeing into a tunnel during a US raid on his hideout in Idlib province, Trump said.
Footage of the raid was later released by the US military. In grainy footage, helicopters were seen firing at gunmen on the ground as they flew towards a compound where Baghdadi was hiding.
On landing, US special forces commandos blew holes in the walls of the compound and called on Baghdadi to surrender, the military said. But he fled into a tunnel and detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two children he had taken with him.
Trump said DNA tests were carried out to verify Baghdadi's identity, confirming his death.
After the raid, the compound was destroyed in an airstrike. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi has since been named as IS's new leader and "caliph".