The British woman dubbed the “White Widow” was at the center of a worldwide hunt yesterday 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 on 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-Shabaab movement. However it follows widespread media speculation over Lewthwaite’s possible role in the attack which left 67 people 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 Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta 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.”
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.