WASHINGTON - Al-Qaeda has claimed that it exchanged two daughters of its chief Ayman al-Zawahiri and another woman weeks ago for the son of General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, former chief of Pakistan Army, according to a report in The Long War Journal, an American news website that reports on the war on terror.

The Journal's dispatch is based on a story published in Al Masra, a news magazine affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which reports extensively on the terror network.

However, The Long War Journal said it could not independently verify the report as there has been no report on the abduction of General Kayani’s son, who was not named in the report.

“If the jihadist organisation is merely boasting, then that is noteworthy. But if Al-Qaeda did manage to kidnap Kayani’s son and force the Pakistani government’s hand, then this indicates Zawahiri’s men have a disturbingly long reach inside of Pakistan,” the report said.

“Although retired, Gen Kayani is one of the most powerful figures in the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment, which has long sponsored jihadis, including the Al-Qaeda-allied Taliban,” the report alleged.

It said the editors of the Al-Masra magazine included a box highlighting the story on the frontpage saying “detaining” the “son of the Pakistani Army Commander” led to the release. The newsletter’s authors claimed a series of tweets posted online in mid-August provided the insider details of the story.

In a tweet, a jihadist accused the Pakistan army of detaining Zawahiri’s daughters, as well as the daughter of Sheikh Murjan Salem al Jawhari, as part of its “infidel” war on the mujahideen.

The twitter account has now been suspended.

“The twitter user, who is likely an Al-Qaeda media operative, further claimed that Al-Qaeda was left with two ways to deal with the situation.

First, the Al-Qaeda needed to take ‘revenge’ on the supposed spy. Second, Allah ‘enabled the mujahideen’ to detain the son of the Pakistan army commander in order to exchange him ‘for the sisters’.

“He included a picture of Kayani to emphasise that this is the Pakistani leader he meant. Al-Qaeda’s account referred to Kayani as if he is active, even though he has been retired for nearly three years,” the report said.

According to the Al-Qaeda claim, the army initially “refused” the proposed exchange, but eventually agreed after lengthy negotiations. Zawahiri’s daughters and the other woman, along with their children, were reportedly returned to Egypt.

“It isn’t clear if the purported exchange took place in late July or early August,” the report said.

The dispatch points out that hints of such an exchange are found in an interview of Ali Haider Gilani, son of former Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. In May 2016, he was rescued three years after he was captured by Al-Qaeda. He told media outlets that he was kidnapped in exchange for “the release of some women from Ayman al-Zawahiri’s family…and a hefty sum."