Interpol launches global hunt for the 'white widow'
By Giovanni Giacalone
Last week on Thursday, Sept 26, an alert, also known as a red notice, was issued for Samantha Lewthwaite; such alerts require member countries to immediately arrest and detain the suspect, pending extradition procedures.
The warrant is not directly linked to the Nairobi Westgate mall attack as explained by an Interpol notice which stated "wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011".
However, there are speculations about the possible central role played by the woman in last weekend's mall attack which caused the death of 72 people and more than 200 wounded.
Kenya's foreign minister claimed that a British woman was among the Westgate Mall terrorists although President Uhuru Kenyatta later said the reports could not be confirmed.
Samantha Sherafiyah Lewthwaite, 29, also known as the "white widow", is the widow of Germaine Lindsay, one of the four suicide-bombers who attacked London on July 7th 2005 and a mother of three.
She is believed to be a member of the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab and to have been involved in the Mombasa bar attack in August 2012 during the Euro Cup football match between England and Italy.
The "white widow" is thought to have left the UK between 2009 and 2010 for South Africa and then for Kenya, entering through Tanzania in 2011 with a false South African passport in the name of Natalie Faye Webb, an identity she used to also take out bank loans and rent houses in Johannesburg, leaving debts of more than $8,000.
In December 2011 the Kenyan police cracked down on a terrorist cell in Mombasa that was preparing attacks against hotels and Western tourists in the area and arrested Jermaine Grant, a 29 year-old British Muslim convert of Jamaican origins and who was charged with possession of material used to make bombs. Grant told the police that the leader of the cell was a woman by the name Samantha Lewthwaite. When the police raided her apartment in Mombasa she had already fled and probably crossed the border into either Tanzania or Somalia, where she could be currently hiding.
The "white widow's" name has been linked to almost every terrorist attack which occurred in East Africa in the last two years and some sources believe that Lewthwaite is also one of the coordinators of a major al-Qaeda plot in Yemen which resulted in the closure of the British embassy in the summer of 2013.