Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for Samantha Lewthwaite, the British woman dubbed the “white widow” who has been linked to the Kenyan shopping centre attack, in connection with suspected terrorist offences in 2011. The international police agency said its red notice had been issued at the request of Kenya and circulated to police authorities in 190 countries around the world, activating “a global tripwire” for the Briton.
The warrant does not relate to the terrorist attack at the weekend on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, despite intense speculation linking Lewthwaite, the widow of one of the July 7 London bombers, to the atrocity, for which the al-Qaida-linked Somali group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility. Instead, said Interpol, the 29-year-old is being sought on charges of possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011.
Lewthwaite, the daughter of a British soldier, grew up in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, and later in Aylesbury, where she converted to Islam as a teenager. She was married to July 7 bomber Germaine Lindsay at the time of the attacks, but insisted in their aftermath that she was horrified by them. But she later disappeared with the couple’s two children, only to re-emerge in Kenya as a committed jihadi who is believed to be working with al-Shabaab.
There has been intense speculation that Lewthwaite may have had a role in the Nairobi attack after Kenyan intelligence reports suggested that a British woman could have been involved and a number of witnesses described seeing a white woman among the gunmen.
At least 67 people died in the Westgate attack, and according to the latest figures from the Red Cross, 72 people are still missing and could be trapped under rubble in the mall.