THE 'White Widow’ terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite has formed a long-term relationship and had a child with a former Kenyan Navy officer who defected to al-Shabaab.
Pictures released show Lewthwaite and Abdi Wahid together for the first time, capturing the moment the pair cradled their new baby, named Surajah. Anti-terror investigators in Kenya have confirmed Wahid is the father of the child.
The images also showed Lewthwaite’s other three children – the eldest two of whom were fathered by the July 7 suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay – and gave an insight into the double life of the world’s most wanted woman.
It had been thought that Lewthwaite, who is originally from Banbridge in Co Down, was in a relationship with Habib Ghani, a British-Pakistani from Hounslow. The pair were charged together in January last year with possessing bomb-making equipment and planning to cause explosions. Ghani was recently killed in Somalia.
However, an anti-terror officer said there was no romantic relationship between the two.
“Ghani is definitely connected to Samantha, but not in a romantic way, they were associates in the same cell in Mombasa that was intending to set off bombs in December 2011,” the anti-terror officer said. “The man in the picture with the children of Samantha’s, that is Abdi Wahid. He is the father of the youngest child. He has disappeared although we think that he has information that will help us, and he should give himself up to us.”
Wahid, a former Navy officer, defected to Somalia’s al-Shabaab network in 2007 and has been named by a former Kenyan soldier as an associate of a man who helped a terror gang attack the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last month.
Lewthwaite, 29, crossed from Tanzania into Kenya in February 2011, with Wahid, and they were photographed at the land border.
Another photograph from late 2011 recovered from a house rented by Lewthwaite and seen by The Telegraph shows Wahid on a swing with Lewthwaite’s third child. The identity of the father of the third child, a son born in 2009, is not known.
The photograph of Lewthwaite and Wahid is believed to have been taken in Mombasa, where the pair lived together in a rented house. It was one of a number of images showing Lewthwaite in relaxed family poses with her children.
Lewthwaite had earlier lived in South Africa, which she is thought to have first entered in July 2008. She travelled in and out of the country on several occasions.
Credit records show that Lewthwaite resided in the Mayfair area of Johannesburg, which is home to 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.
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”.
Having left South Africa she crossed through Tanzania, and was spotted at the Tanzanian-Kenyan border before disappearing again.
The former army officer’s blog post, whose authenticity could not immediately be verified, goes on to claim that Kenyan intelligence sources were searching for Wahid, and that he had travelled recently to Europe.
Officials have suggested he used the alias Mark Costa, a name said to be that of a Mozambican passport-holder who was connected to one of the three houses that Lewthwaite rented in Mombasa during 2011.
Little is known about his whereabouts after December 2011, when he is believed to have fled to Somalia with Lewthwaite and their children after Kenyan police arrested another associate, Jermaine Grant, from east London.
Although the blog post author claims to have helped the Westgate attackers buy vehicles and rent a flat near the shopping centre, he does not link Wahid to the terrorist siege there.
Lethwaite was initially thought to be involved in the Westgate shopping centre attacks. But Kenyan police are yet to establish any proof of her participation.
Mike Pflanz, Telegraph.co.uk