Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “a normal family man” before he became the leader of Isis, according to his wife.
Saga al-Dulmaimi, 28, has a daughter with Baghdadi. When she married him in 2008, he worked as a university lecturer, teaching religion and Sharia.
Only later did she find out he was active in extremist groups.
In an interview with Expressen, she said: “I married a normal person who was a university lecturer. At the time his name was Hisham Mohammad.”
Describing the man who would later go on to become the leader of the jihadi group, she said: “He was a family man. He went to work and came home to his family. He didn’t even take part in the resistance movement.
“How he then became Emir of the most dangerous terrorist organisation in the world is a mystery to me.”
Baghdadi, who has declared himself “caliph” of the Islamic State, is one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. The US placed a $10 million bounty on his head.
He reportedly held women captive as his private property and raped a number of them.
He was last heard from in a 24-minute audio message released in December 2015, claiming his organisation was “thriving” despite the international forces arrayed against it.
Ms al-Dulmaimi grew up in Iraq and married Baghdadi after her first husband was killed fighting American troops.
“He loved the children,” she said. “He was their idol. He was an excellent person in that respect, but my relationship with him was shallow.”
She was not happy with the marriage, having moved in with Baghdadi his wife and their children. After becoming pregnant with her daughter, Hagar, she decided to leave Baghdadi.
“I left him. Yes, you could say that I fled from him. It had nothing to do with him as a person. I wasn’t happy. It was unfair on his first wife. She was very upset. That’s why I left.”
“No, I was not in love with him. I didn’t love him. He was an enigmatic person. You couldn’t have a discussion or hold a normal conversation with him.”
Ms al-Dulmaimi now lives with her Palestinian husband, fearful Baghdadi may try to kidnap her daughter Hagar, who wants to travel to Europe to study.
She denounced the recent Isis attacks in Paris and Brussels, speaking out against the group’s “murder, blood and brutality”.
“Civilians were killed,” she said. “When people with weapons kill civilians, isn’t that terrorism?
“It’s murder, blood and brutality. As a mother, I consider what they’re doing to be terrorism. If someone hurts my son, he’s a terrorist. Every mother thinks that.”