Interpol launch global hunt for Irish-born 'White Widow'
Published 27/09/2013 | 05:00
A GLOBAL hunt for 'White Widow' Samantha Lewthwaite was launched last night after Interpol issued a "red notice" for the arrest of the terror suspect.
The alert says Irish-born Lewthwaite is a "worldwide danger" and came amid speculation that she was linked to the attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre in which 67 people have been confirmed dead so far.
Lewthwaite is the widow of the July 7 London suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay who was involved in the 2005 attack that killed 52 commuters.
The alert does not refer to last weekend's attack but calls on Interpol's 190 member countries to watch for Lewthwaite (29).
She was born in Banbridge, Co Down and is the daughter of former British soldier Andrew Lewthwaite, who married Catholic Christine Allen while he was serving in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.
"By requesting the red notice, Kenya has activated a global 'tripwire' for this fugitive," said Ronald Noble, Interpol's secretary-general.
"Through the Interpol red notice, Kenyan authorities have ensured that all member countries are aware of the danger posed by this woman, not just across the region but also worldwide."
Neither the Kenyan nor British authorities have been unable to rule out involvement in the Nairobi attack by Lewthwaite, who converted to Islam aged 15 after the family had moved from Northern Ireland to Aylesbury, near London.
Interpol issued four colour photographs of Lewthwaite along with the arrest notice.
Survivors who fled the siege by Islamist gunmen in its first hours reported seeing a "pale-skinned woman" among the 10 to 15 attackers who held the mall for four days from last Saturday.
A Kenyan arrest warrant had already been issued for Lewthwaite for charges of possessing explosives and planning bombs in tourist spots in 2011.
She escaped from police and is believed to have fled to Somalia where she is said to be with al-Shabaab, the extremists who claimed their forces carried out the Westgate attack.
The shopping centre remained cordoned off yesterday as Kenyan troops continued to sweep its four floors for explosive devices set by the terrorists.
The final count of people who died in the siege will not be known for at least a week.
Lewthwaite was an IT specialist at a halaal meat pie company in Johannesburg, living and working in predominantly South Asian areas of the city, according to reports that shed light on her life before her move to Kenya.
Lewthwaite, who was in possession of a fraudulently obtained South African passport under the alias Natalie Faye Webb, first entered South Africa in July 2008, and travelled in and out of the country on several occasions.
Naledi Pandor, the South African home affairs minister, said that the last recorded use of the passport was in February 2011, before it was cancelled and added to a "stop list".
Credit records show that Lewthwaite resided in the Mayfair area of Johannesburg, which is home to a large Indian and African Muslim populations, with numerous mosques. She kept a post office box in nearby Brixton, and later leased property in the suburb of Bromhof across town, according to credit documents linked to the identity number listed on the fraudulent passport.
Neighbouring residents of the two addresses could not remember seeing Lewthwaite, and it is unclear for how long she lived there, if at all.
Earlier this week, a South African academic claimed that Lewthwaite had been a regular visitor to the country and stayed in Johannesburg's South Asian suburbs.
The credit records reveal that while in South Africa, Lewthwaite racked up sizeable debts from bank loans, credit cards and clothing store charge accounts.