Saja al-Dulaimi, 28, one of two wives of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, spoke of her relationship with the world’s most wanted man in a recent interview with Swedish media, Expressen.
“I married a normal person, a university lecturer,” al-Dulaimi said in the interview, conducted in a hidden location in Lebanon. “He was a family man.”
Born in Iraq, al-Dulaimi says when she met al-Baghdadi he wasn’t a terrorist. al-Dulaimi was a widow with young twin boys when she met al-Baghdadi, although he went by Hisham Mohammed back then, she said.
“He went to work and came home to his family, he was great,” she said. “He was the children’s ideal father—the way he was with children … you know how teachers are.”
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Al-Dulaimi says being one of two wives was difficult, and wasn’t too close with her husband because he possessed a “mysterious personality” and often disappeared for days at a time. She maintains she had no clue who he really was.
Her ex-husband, al-Baghdadi, is the mastermind behind ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The terrorist group, under his rule, has been responsible for multitudes of deaths in Syria and Iraq, as well as overseas. Those living under ISIS rule have reported numerous horrific deaths at the hands of ISIS fighters.
Al-Baghdadi has been accused of ordering the Paris attacks last November that left 130 dead and hundreds injured. The group has claimed responsibility for several other terror attacks.
After becoming pregnant with his child, al-Dulaimi ran away, saying she didn’t love him.
She left him seven years ago—2009 was the last time she spoke to him.
“The fact that I got out is proof of that,” she said. After he had made several attempts to get her back, she said “I’d already made up my mind.”
A while later, al-Baghdadi found out about the pregnancy and told al-Dulaimi he’d take their daughter if she remarries, according to her account to Expressen.
Worried for her daughter’s safety, al-Dulaimi says she is scared of everyone, and hopes she can move to a European country where her daughter can get an education.
“She [her daughter] has the entire world’s disaster upon her shoulders,” she said. “Even if her mother was married to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a terrorist … what is the child guilty of there?”
And although labeled a terrorist who will always be known as Baghdadi’s ex-wife, al-Dulaimi says she should be accepted in Europe.
“Where is my guilt if I was married to him in 2008? We’re divorced now. I was the one who left him,” she told the publication.
Arrested in December of 2014, al-Dulaimi says she suffered in prison for a year, and is now wanting to settle down.
“If I’d wanted to live with him, I’d have lived like a princess,” she said. “I could’ve moved in with them and had loads of money, but I don’t want money. I want to live in freedom.”