Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s ex-wife spoke out for the first time in an interview with Expressen, a Swedish tabloid newspaper.
Saja al-Dulaimi said she had no knowledge he was involved in the terrorist organization at the time of their marriage. “I married a normal person who was a university lecturer. At the time his name was Hisham Mohammad.”
Al-Dulaimi is Baghdadi’s second wife. They married after Dulaimi’s first husband, a lieutenant in former yIraqi President Saddam Hussein’s bodyguard unit, died and left her to care for twin boys.
An uncle told her he knew of someone looking to marry a widow and Dulaimi’s father approved the marriage between her and Baghdadi.
According to Expressen, it is a tradition in Muslim communities for married men to marry widows in order to care for their children. It is believed to be a good deed and that they will be rewarded in the afterlife.
Dulaimi was unhappy in the marriage. “He loved the children. He was their idol. he was an excellent person in that respect, but my relationship with him was shallow,” said Dulaimi. NBC News explained he gave Dulaimi orders and that’s it. Baghdadi wasn’t someone you could have a conversation with.
After three months of marriage, Dulaimi left because she believed their marriage to be unfair to his first wife.
When Dulaimi left, she was a month pregnant but had no knowledge of the pregnancy.
After she gave birth to their child in 2009, Baghdadi reached out to her and tried to get her to come back. She refused.
Dulaimi did not become aware of Baghdadi’s role in the Syrian resistance until she was arrested for illegally crossing the Lebanon border in December, 2014. They showed her a picture of Baghdadi and asked her if she recognized him. She said, “it was a shock to find out-seven years later- that I’d been married to the most dangerous man in the world. I smashed a window in anger.”
Dulaimi and her children were released a year later as part of a prisoner exchange. She says that in the Lebanese prison, the soldiers never did anything bad to her.
Dulaimi does not hesitate in calling ISIS terrorists. She told expressen “It’s murder, blood and brutality…I consider what they’re doing to be terrorism.”
Dulaimi wishes to come to the West. When asked why the West would want to welcome al-Baghdadi’s ex-wife, she quoted the Koran, “No bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden.”
She continued and said “I want to live in freedom.”
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