2 December 2014
Last updated at 11:49
Last month, IS denied reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed or injured in an air strike
Lebanese security forces have detained a wife and son of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi near the border with Syria, the army says.
The pair, whose names were not given, were picked up by military intelligence after entering Lebanon 10 days ago.
The al-Safir newspaper reported that Baghdadi’s wife was being questioned at the Lebanese defence ministry.
In June, Baghdadi was named the leader of the “caliphate” created by IS in the parts of Syria and Iraq it controls.
Last month, the group denied reports that he had been killed or injured in an air strike by US-led forces near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
It released an audio recording purportedly of Baghdadi in which he said the caliphate was expanding and called for “volcanoes of jihad” to erupt.
Describing them as “a valuable catch”, al-Safir said that, in co-ordination with foreign intelligence services, the IS leader’s wife and son were detained at a border crossing near the town of Arsal while trying to enter Lebanon from Syria with forged papers.
The Lebanese army has been battling jihadist militants loyal to Islamic State and the rival al-Nusra Front
IS and al-Nusra Front are holding about 20 Lebanese soldiers hostage
They were currently being held for interrogation at the defence ministry’s headquarters in al-Yarza, in the hills overlooking Beirut, it added.
A security source told the AFP news agency that the woman was a Syrian citizen and that her son was eight or nine years old.
“It is his second wife,” the source added.
Analysis: Jim Muir, BBC News, Beirut
Assuming the reports are true – and there is little reason to doubt them – the Lebanese authorities now face the delicate question of what to do with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s wife and offspring.
In theory, they could prove a useful bargaining chip in the highly-charged imbroglio surrounding the fate of more than 20 Lebanese Army soldiers held hostage since August by IS and the rival al-Qaeda-linked militant group, al-Nusra Front.
The militants are demanding the release of Islamist prisoners in Lebanese jails to spare the soldiers’ lives – three have already been murdered.
But al-Nusra has been much more involved than IS in back-channel negotiations for a possible exchange, so there is no guarantee it would pay off.
And there is always the possibility that the continued detention of the pair could provoke IS to seek revenge in one way or another, perhaps by seizing more hostages.
Very little is known about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has not been seen in public since June.
A profile published by IS supporters the following month said the Iraqi was married, but it is unclear how many wives he has. Under Islamic law he is allowed up to four.
The Associated Press reported that Baghdadi’s first wife was believed to be Suja al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi citizen who was reportedly detained by the Syrian authorities before being released in a prisoner exchange with al-Nusra Front in March.
Lebanese security forces have arrested a number of jihadists suspected of carrying out attacks in the country with the aim of expanding the influence of Islamic State.
IS and another Syria-based jihadist group, the al-Nusra Front, are holding around 20 Lebanese army soldiers hostage. They are threatening to kill them unless militants are freed from Lebanese jails.