Hunt for the White Widow: Interpol issues worldwide warrant for prime suspect in mall atrocity
- Samantha Lewthwaite suspected of being behind mall massacre
- Lewthwaite was married to one of the 2005 London suicide bombers
- It has been claimed she racked up huge debts while in South Africa
- Reports say she was working for a halal pie shop in Lenasia
PUBLISHED: 09:56 EST, 26 September 2013 | UPDATED: 22:47 EST, 26 September 2013
Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for ‘White Widow’ Samantha Lewthwaite, a prime suspect in the Kenyan shopping mall massacre.
The high-priority ‘Red Notice’ for the arrest of the 29-year-old widow of 7/7 suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay was made at the request of the Kenyan authorities.
The warrant, which included four pictures of British Muslim convert Lewthwaite, relates to charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit terrorist crimes in Mombasa, dating back to December 2011.
It does not mention the weekend attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, which was carried out by the Somali-based Al Shabaab group linked to Lewthwaite, and is feared to have killed 130 people.
But the timing of the warrant at the height of investigations into the slaughter of shoppers is seen as hugely significant, suggesting the Kenyan authorities and other international agencies believe she is alive and was not killed during the four-day siege that left five terrorists dead.
Several witnesses, including soldiers and some of the wounded, have spoken of a white woman being among the Al Shabaab gunmen.
Two claimed she was giving orders to those doing the killing, prompting the belief Lewthwaite was involved directly or as one of the masterminds.
Western security officials in Nairobi say there is growing evidence that several of the terrorists escaped in the chaos following the first shootings on Saturday, raising the possibility that Lewthwaite was among them.
Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said: ‘By requesting a Red Notice, Kenya has activated a global “tripwire” for this fugitive.
‘Through the Interpol Red Notice, Kenyan authorities have ensured that all 190 member countries are aware of the danger posed by this woman, not just across the region but also worldwide.’
A Twitter account claiming to be run by Al Shabaab claimed yesterday: ‘We now have permission to disclose the involvement of Samantha Lewthwaite, Sherafiyah.
She successfully overseered [sic] the mission.’ The alleged bomb plot in Mombasa which prompted the Red Notice relates to plans to carry out a series of attacks against Western targets, including hotels and British tourists.
Lewthwaite’s accomplice is alleged to have been Jermaine Grant, 29, from Newham, East London, who is standing trial in Mombasa accused of planning to cause the loss of life and possessing bomb-making materials.
Scotland Yard officers are giving evidence at the case, chronicling what is said to be the involvement of the widow of the man who blew himself up on the Piccadilly Line Tube in 2005, killing 26 people.
A previous Interpol warrant had been issued in the name of Essex nurse Natalie Faye Webb, whose identity Lewthwaite, a mother of four from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, is now known to have stolen and used after leaving Britain in 2009 and going to South Africa.
Grant and Lewthwaite have also been named as prime suspects in a grenade attack at Mombasa’s Jericho Beer Garden, which killed three, including a young boy, and injured 25.
Shortly before the attack, a white woman fitting Lewthwaite’s description was seen acting suspiciously and asking questions about the bar. She was with two Asian-looking men.
Police said yesterday they had broadened the investigation into those behind the mall attack and were tracking four suspects in the Mombasa area.
They revealed that Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab militants killed in a gun battle last month in the city has been planning similar attacks to Westgate.
Reports in Kenya and around the world have repeatedly linked Lewthwaite to the mall carnage.
Bernard Wambua, who works with Radio Africa, was overseeing a cookery competition for children in the parking lot at Westgate Mall when the Islamists began shooting.
He said a ‘light-skinned woman’ was directing the men to gun down any child who screamed while she personally fired at a gas cylinder and microwaves, setting the area surrounding the children on fire.
He said: ‘At first we thought it was a robbery but the shots became louder as though whoever was shooting was headed in our direction. Two men came to the parking lot. They were in jeans and T-shirts, one with an Arabic headscarf wrapped around his head. In their hands were huge guns and I could see pistols sticking out of their pockets. They started shooting at everyone and everything.
‘That’s when the light-skinned woman joined them. She, too, had a gun. She would point at things and the men shot at them. She shot at a gas cylinder we were using for the competition which resulted in a small fire. Luckily, it did not spread. She blasted several microwaves, too.’
Mr Wambua said the woman targeted children who wept. ‘Anyone who screamed was fired at. They were unforgiving.’ Poorvi Jain, 12, watched in terror as her nine-year-old brother was killed. Their mother Mukta was shot in the elbow while trying to save him. But the extremists then shot again, killing the boy.
Her headteacher Geetika Saxena said: ‘Poorvi described the men and says she saw a white lady. She said she saw her there with two other men.’
Another witness said of the female terrorist: ‘As soon as she issued orders, the men would go on a killing rampage.’
Last night, Channel 4 News said its sources had revealed the leader of the attacks was a Kenyan Muslim convert named only as Omar.
The man had previously been a member of Kenyan special forces and a Christian but later converted and left his country in 2005 to join a militant group in Somalia, which then merged with Al Shabaab
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2433291/Worlds-wanted-woman-Interpol-issues-global-arrest-warrant-White-Widow-emerges-worked-halal-pie-shop-run.html#ixzz2g49qmSLQ
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