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Captured al-Baghdadi wife revealed plenty about ISIS, source says

CBS News logo CBS News 11/7/2019 CBSNews
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One of slain Islamic State of Iraq and Iran (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's wives revealed "a lot of information" about the jihadist group's "inner workings" after she was captured last year, a Turkish official told Agence France-Presse.

The official said Baghdadi's spouse identified herself as Rania Mahmoud but was in fact Asma Fawzi Muhammad Al-Qubaysi.

She was said to be the "first wife" of the ISIS leader, who was killed in a U.S. special forces raid in Syria last month. Al-Bagdadi was known to have four wives, according to The Associated Press.

AFP said the woman was arrested on June 2, 2018 in the Turkish province of Hatay, near the Syrian border, along with 10 others, including Baghdadi's daughter, who identified herself as Leila Jabeer.

a person wearing a black hat: Asma Fawzi Muhammad Al-Qubaysi, wife of slain Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi © TURKISH SECURITY OFFICIALS / HANDOUT / REUTERS Asma Fawzi Muhammad Al-Qubaysi, wife of slain Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi The official said the family links were confirmed using a DNA sample of Baghdadi provided by Iraqi authorities.

"We discovered (the wife's) real identity pretty quickly. At that point, she volunteered a lot of information about Baghdadi and the inner workings of ISIS," the official said.

"We were able to confirm a lot of things that we already knew. We also obtained new information that led to a series of arrests elsewhere."

The detainees are being held at a deportation center in Turkey, a senior Turkish official told CBS News, adding, "There may or may not be other high-value targets in Turkish custody. I am not at liberty to discuss ongoing investigations and intelligence operations."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed for the first time on Wednesday that Al-Qubaysi had been detained.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan wearing a suit and tie: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in January 2019 © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in January 2019

"We caught his wife -- I say this today for the first time -- but we didn't make a big fuss about it," Erdogan told a gathering of students in Ankara.  

He confirmed that Turkey had also captured Baghdadi's sister and brother-in-law.

Erdogan took a swipe at the United States for making a big deal of Baghdadi's killing, saying, "They started a very big communication operation."

The ISIS leader was killed in a U.S. special forces raid carried out with the help of Kurdish fighters in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, just across the border from Turkey.

According to the U.S. account, Baghdadi ran into a dead-end tunnel in his hideout and detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two children.

The raid came in the wake of a Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish militants, who have been a close ally of the West in the fight against ISIS but are viewed as terrorists by Ankara.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sitting on a bed: Image from video posted on militant website on April 29, 2019 purports to show ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Image from video posted on militant website on April 29, 2019 purports to show ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Erdogan told reporters Thursday that members of al-Baghdadi's "inner circle" have been attempting to get into Turkey from Syria, and that the number of al-Baghdadi relatives who've been caught by Turkey "is close to reaching double digits," the AP said.

It was the second straight day in which Erdogan sought to publicize Turkey's efforts to capture ISIS members who were close to al-Baghdadi, the AP noted. Turkey has been criticized over its recent military incursion into Syria to drive out Syrian Kurdish fighters from northeast Syria due, among other things, to concerns it would enable an ISIS resurgence, the AP pointed out.

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