We love the wives of our favourite monsters. And the rumours which surround them. Fresh from spitting out our hatred of Madame Asma al-Assad and making fun of the late Osama’s many wives, we are now given the saga of Saja al-Dulaimi, wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the throat-cutter of Mosul and self-proclaimed “leader of the faithful” of the equally self-proclaimed “Islamic Caliphate”, or Isis. And this time the story comes from that pit of all Middle East marital scandals, Lebanon.
It goes like this. Ten days ago, Saja and her daughter – or her son, depending on whom you believe – were picked up by the Lebanese security forces on the Syrian border – or in northern Lebanon or in the Bekaa Valley, again depending on whom you choose to put your faith in. It’s a tale that will run and run, almost as fast as Saja did when she found that the Syrian government was about to release her from jail, along with 150 or so other female prisoners, in exchange for 13 nuns freed last March by Islamist groups in Syria. The nuns were indeed released by the Jabhat al-Nusra – supposedly no friends of Baghdadi’s “caliphate” – as the Syrian army prepared to storm the rebel-held town of Yabroud. The deal was agreed by President Bashar al-Assad and by the Qatari government, which supposedly paid £40m for the prisoner swap, making the good Christian sisters – along with Saja and her fellow prisoners – the most expensive nuns and female inmates in the world.
There were many complaints later that Assad had not honoured his agreement to free the women, although Dulaimi’s appearance suggests that he did. The whole affair is further complicated by the fact that no one knew – until now – that the wife of the latest leader of “world terror” was in Syrian government hands. Nor, indeed, do we know if Saja is really in Lebanese custody with her son/daughter or whether – if that’s true – she’s about to endure another wretched prisoner swap.
Needless to say, all the usual mountebank “terrorist experts” are on the go, suggesting that Baghdadi – once a guest of the US military in Camp Cropper – is in big trouble, if only because one of his three wives is in the hands of a nation (namely Lebanon) which is keen to crush any manifestation of the “caliphate”. News agencies were trumpeting Lebanon’s confirmation of Saja’s capture on the grounds that the country’s detectives – who have never, frankly, been in the Maigret tradition – had checked her DNA and proved her identity. But checked it against what? Did the Americans send the Lebanese Baghdadi’s own DNA samples (taken in Camp Cropper days) so they could match it with Saja’s son – or daughter – who was supposedly with Saja (if it is indeed her) when she was detained on the Syrian border, or in the Bekaa, or in northern Lebanon or Timbuktu or Las Vegas, or wherever else we think she has fallen into the hands of justice? It’s a tale almost too good to be true. But be sure we’ll all wait patiently for the next dramatic instalment.