Tuesday 20 March 2018

Kenyan terror: government points to involvement of Irish-born ‘White Widow’

Increasing belief that Samantha Lewthwaite was killed as security forces attempted to storm shopping centre

THE Kenyan government has added to speculation that an Irish-born terrorism suspect was a key member of the gang behind the attack on a shopping centre in Nairobi that killed at least 62 people.

It is now thought that terrorism suspect Samantha Lewthwaite was killed as Kenyan military forces attempted to end the three-day siege at a shopping centre.

A woman was among three suspects killed by Kenyan forces.

The woman is increasingly believed to be Lewthwaite – who is from Banbridge, Co Down – who is already wanted in Kenya on terror charges.

Speaking this morning, the Kenyan foreign minister confirmed that a woman who has carried out attacks “many, many times before” was among the terrorists.

She said the terrorists included two or three Americans, and a British woman.

Lewthwaite, from Northern Ireland, is believed to be travelling on a British passport.

Amina Mohamed said in the interview with “PBS Newshour” that “two or three Americans” and “one Brit” were among the militants in the attack.

She said the Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived “in Minnesota and one other place” in the United States. The British jihadist was a woman who has “done this many times before,” Ms Mohamed said, adding to speculation that it was Lewthwaite.

US officials said that they were trying to confirm if any of the assailants were American.

A picture taken from Lewthwaite’s laptop seized some time ago in Kenya
A picture taken from Lewthwaite’s laptop seized some time ago in Kenya
Samantha Lewthwaite with Jermaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 bombers in London
An image of Lewthwaite imposed to a screen on New York’s Times Square – a picture taken from her laptop
A police officer walks towards the edge of a security perimeter put into place a distance from the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, in the early hours of the morning
A Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) armoured military vehicle drives to the Westgate shopping centre after an exchange of gunfire inside the mall in Nairobi
Kenyan security personnel and journalists duck behind a vehicle as heavy gunfire erupts from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya
Locals take cover as shots ring out
Locals, police and journalists take cover as shots ring out
Smoke rises from the Westgate shopping centre after explosions at the mall in Nairobi as soldiers attempt to storm the building
Kenyan soldiers walk towards the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi September 23, 2013.
A Kenya Defence Forces soldier carrying a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) walks past an armoured military vehicle in front of the Westgate shopping centre after an exchange of gunfire
A soldier on horseback near the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi
Armed police from the General Service Unit take cover behind a wall during a bout of gunfire, outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi,
Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya Monday Sept. 23 2013
A Kenyan soldier walks out of the main gate of Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi
Trucks of soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces arrive outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya

A State Department spokesman said there was "no definitive evidence of the nationalities"

An FBI spokesman in Minneapolis, home to a large Somali population, said the bureau was investigating reports Americans were involved in the attack but said the task was "complicated" by the ongoing siege in Nairobi

A Muslim convert, Lewthwaite had been dubbed the "white widow" because of her marriage to Jermaine Lindsay, who blew up an underground train at King's Cross in London in 2005, killing 26 people.

She has been on the run in east Africa for two years after allegedly plotting to attack Western targets in Kenya.

Her father was a British soldier posted in the North during the Troubles, who married a local woman.

Lewthwaite converted to Islam in her teenage years and later married Lindsay, one of the 7/7 London bombers.

She then married another jihadist while on the run in Africa where she became a leader of the al-Shabaab terror grouping.

Lewthwaite later arranged the assassination of a terror rival in an attack that also claimed the life of her second husband, Habib Ghani. She did not even acknowledge the fact he had been murdered.

Family friends in Banbridge yesterday said the publicity surrounding Lewthwaite in recent years had deeply affected her grandmother who lives near the town centre.

The elderly lady is said to be devastated by the revelations regarding her grand-daughter.

It is understood the stress on the woman, who is in her late 80s, is such she was hospitalised recently.

The frail pensioner previously told how she was issued with a panic alarm with which she was to contact police if Lewthwaite ever made contact with her.

Meanwhile, a heavy burst of gunfire was heard from the shopping centre this morning, suggesting that the complex had not yet been secured, a Reuters witness said on Tuesday.

Kenya's Interior Ministry had said early today that its forces were "in control" of the mall and had freed all hostages.

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