London (AFP) – The British woman dubbed the “White Widow” was at the center of a worldwide hunt on Friday after Interpol issued an international notice for her arrest in the wake of the Kenya shopping mall attack.
Samantha Lewthwaite, a 29-year-old Muslim convert, was married to Germaine Lindsay, one of four Islamist suicide bombers who attacked the London transport network on July 7, 2005, killing 52 people.
The Interpol red notice issued Thursday at Kenya’s request says the mother-of-three is “wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011.”
The notice did not specifically mention the deadly four-day mall siege in Nairobi by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shebab movement.
However it follows widespread media speculation over Lewthwaite’s possible role in the attack which left 67 victims dead, a toll expected to rise as more bodies are discovered.
Kenya’s foreign minister said a British woman was among the Westgate Mall attackers although President Uhuru Kenyatta later said the reports could not be confirmed.
Interpol issued four color photographs of Lewthwaite along with the arrest notice. One shows her with long dark hair and pouting at the camera, while the other three show her wearing the Islamic headscarf in various poses.
Interpol’s notice, which requires member states to detain the suspect pending extradition, said Kenyan authorities wanted other member nations to be “aware of this danger posed by this woman, not just across the region but also worldwide.”
It said Lewthwaite had previously only been wanted “at the national level for alleged possession of a fraudulently obtained South African passport.”
An ‘average, ordinary’ girl
Britain’s Metropolitan Police and Foreign Office refused to comment, saying it was a matter for Interpol and the Kenyan authorities.
The global hunt was launched as Kenya on Thursday began burying the victims of the mall massacre by Islamist gunmen, as police pleaded for patience while searchers combed the charred rubble of the devastated complex for dozens still missing.
The daughter of a British soldier, Samantha Louise Lewthwaite professed herself appalled when her Jamaican-born husband detonated a rucksack full of explosives and blew himself up on a London Underground train at Russell Square station in 2005, killing 26 people.
She was pregnant with their second child at the time.
“I totally condemn and am horrified by the atrocities which occurred in London,” she said, describing Lindsay as “a good and loving husband and a brilliant father, who showed absolutely no sign of doing this atrocious crime”.
Copyright 2013 The National Memo