Be aware of the 'White Widow', Kenya warns world
27 September 2013, 11:55
London - The British woman dubbed the "White
Widow" was at the centre of a worldwide hunt on Friday after Interpol
issued an international notice for her arrest in the wake of the Kenya shopping
Samantha Lewthwaite, a 29-year-old Muslim convert, was
married to Germaine Lindsay, one of four Islamist suicide bombers who attacked
the London transport network on 7 July 2005, killing 52 people.
The Interpol red notice issued on Thursday at Kenya's
request says the mother-of-three is "wanted by Kenya on charges of being
in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to
The notice did not specifically mention the deadly four-day
mall siege in Nairobi by Al-Shabaab movement.
However it follows widespread media speculation over
Lewthwaite's possible role in the attack which left 67 victims dead, a toll
expected to rise as more bodies are discovered.
The Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said a British woman was among the
Westgate Mall attackers although President Uhuru Kenyatta later said the
reports could not be confirmed.
Interpol issued four colour photographs of Lewthwaite along
with the arrest notice. One shows her with long dark hair and pouting at the
camera, while the other three show her wearing the Islamic headscarf in various
Interpol's notice, which requires member states to detain
the suspect pending extradition, said the authorities wanted other member
nations to be "aware of this danger posed by this woman, not just across
the region but also worldwide."
It said Lewthwaite had previously only been wanted "at
the national level for alleged possession of a fraudulently obtained South
Britain's Metropolitan Police and Foreign Office refused to
comment, saying it was a matter for Interpol and the Kenyan authorities.
The global hunt was launched as Kenya on Thursday began
burying the victims of the mall massacre by Islamist gunmen, as police pleaded
for patience while searchers combed the charred rubble of the devastated
complex for dozens still missing.
An 'average' girl
The daughter of a British soldier, Samantha Louise
Lewthwaite professed herself appalled when her Jamaican-born husband detonated
a rucksack full of explosives and blew himself up on a London Underground train
at Russell Square station in 2005, killing 26 people.
She was pregnant with their second child at the time.
"I totally condemn and am horrified by the atrocities
which occurred in London," she said, describing Lindsay as "a good
and loving husband and a brilliant father, who showed absolutely no sign of
doing this atrocious crime".
Lewthwaite had met Lindsay in an Internet chat forum when
she was 17, having converted to Islam two years earlier.
Described as a bubbly teenager, schoolfriends said she had
an ordinary upbringing, first in Northern Ireland and then in the market town
of Aylesbury, northwest of London.
Britain's press has been fascinated by Lewthwaite's story,
and The Sun on Friday ran the headline "Angel-faced British girl who last
night became World's Most Wanted" across its front-page.
The paper also reported that she was being probed by the
Investigations have begun to lift the veil on Lewthwaite's
shadowy movements since the London bombings.
South Africa said on Thursday that Lewthwaite had gained a
South African passport using the assumed identity Natalie Faye Webb and that
the document was cancelled in 2011.
She had first entered the country in 2008. She was
accompanied by her three children, a girl and two boys, who would now be
roughly aged between seven and 12.
Media reports this week cited credit records as showing that
"Natalie Faye Webb" had at least three addresses in Johannesburg and
ran up debts of $8 600.
Two neighbours in the leafy Johannesburg suburb of Bromhof
told AFP they recognised Lewthwaite's picture.
Herbie Ullbricht, 69, who lived two houses away from her
address cited in credit reports, said the woman lived there in "2010 or
2011" with her three children, and she was always dressed from head to toe
in a hijab.
Earlier this month authorities accused her of working
with another suspected British, Jermaine Grant, who is on trial in
Kenya accused of links to Al-Shebab and of plotting attacks.
Grant was arrested in December 2011 in the port city of
Mombasa with various chemicals, batteries and switches, which prosecutors say
he planned to use to make explosives.
It is believed Lewthwaite was involved in the alleged plan
to bomb a number of tourist resorts on Kenya's coast and has been on the run
for months, with reported sightings of her in Somalia.
Raffaello Pantucci, a terror expert at Britain's Royal
United Services Institute, said Lewthwaite had acquired a "semi-mythical
"I don't think we've had any concrete evidence of her
being involved in this incident," he said. "But the fact of her being
mentioned in this context is not surprising because of her connections."