BEIRUT: An ISIS commander threatened to kidnap Lebanese women and children and end negotiations over the captive servicemen unless his wife and children, detained by authorities last week, are released soon.
In a video posted on YouTube, Anas Sharkas, better known by his nom de guerre as Abu Ali Al-Shishani, addressed Sunnis in the northern city of Tripoli and in Lebanon, urging them to retaliate for the detention of his family.
“My wife, Ola Mithqal al-Oqaily, Um Ali (the mother of Ali), was taken two days ago from Tripoli, the city that is called the city of Islam and Muslims,” Shishani said, sitting in front of an ISIS flag with two masked gunmen at his sides.
Oqaili is being held in a prison cell at the Lebanese Defense Ministry next to Baghdadi’s ex-wife, Saja Dulaimi, who is now in her third week of detention, under strict control measures by female soldiers.
The women’s arrest seemed to be an attempt by the government to obtain leverage in the ongoing negotiations over the release of servicemen held by the Nusra Front and ISIS.
While Shishani expressed disappointment over the inaction of Tripoli residents, Shishani said that he held Sheikh Salem Rafei, a prominent Tripoli-based sheikh, responsible for the detention of his wife.
“I hold Salem Rafei, the head of the Committee of Muslim Scholars, fully responsibility for the return of my wife. ... All Sunnis in Lebanon are responsible for our wives who are being taken to prisons. On what charge? I do not know.”
“I call on you, Sunnis, to rise up in unity. Our wives and men are in prisons. They took my wife and children and had no right to do so.”
Shishani denied what he said were claims that the woman was ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s wife, saying that Oqaily was his wife and the mother of his two children; a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old infant.
He also denied media reports that he was a commander in the Al-Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front, saying he was willing to sacrifice his life and his family for the sake of Baghdadi, repeatedly praising the ISIS chief.
“She was merely a refugee in a school just like any other woman ... Why did they take her because of her husband? Damn you!”
“We will not rest until all our women are out of prison. Damn you and your army,” Shishani angrily said.
The prominent ISIS fighter issued a stern warning to the Lebanese Army and Lebanese citizens, saying he would kidnap women and children unless his wife was released.
"If my wife is not released soon, do not dare to dream about the release of the soldiers without negotiations ... even if you hold all Muslims captive.”
“Women and children of the pigs and the slaves of Khomeini and all who follow them: all your wives, children and men are legitimate targets now,” he said, raising his voice as he wagged his finger.
“I will start taking action very soon to take women and children captive.”
Shishani spoke about the case of the 26 policemen and soldiers held by Nusra Front and ISIS, warning that he would end negotiations unless the Qatari mediator, tasked by Doha to follow up on the matter, resolved the case once and for all.
“I had left the negations case with ISIS and Nusra Front ... I had nothing to do with the Lebanese captives but now things have changed,” he said.
“If the Qatari mediator cannot resolve this very soon, then he is no longer welcome in the outskirts and I won't allow him to enter.”
ISIS and Nusra Front fighters took dozens of Lebanese policemen and soldiers during clashes with the Army in the northeastern town of Arsal in August.
While Doha has appointed a Syrian man to negotiate between the militants and the Lebanese government, no breakthroughs have yet been reported.