Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

White Widow Red Notice: Interpol issues global arrest warrant for Samantha Lewthwaite - the world's most wanted woman who was born in Banbridge

Photo issued by Interpol of Samantha Lewthwaite as an international arrest warrant has been issued for the British terror suspect
Photo issued by Interpol of Samantha Lewthwaite as an international arrest warrant has been issued for the British terror suspect
Photo issued by Interpol of Samantha Lewthwaite as an international arrest warrant has been issued for the British terror suspect
Photo issued by Interpol of Samantha Lewthwaite as an international arrest warrant has been issued for the British terror suspect
Photo issued by Interpol of Samantha Lewthwaite as an international arrest warrant has been issued for the British terror suspect
Photo issued by Interpol of Samantha Lewthwaite as an international arrest warrant has been issued for the British terror suspect

A Northern Ireland terror suspect's status as the most wanted woman in the world has been cemented after Interpol issued a Red Notice warrant for the so-called 'White Widow', Samantha Lewthwaite.

Lewthwaite was born and spent some of her childhood in Banbridge, Co Down before moving to England.

When the first unconfirmed reports emerged of a "white woman" at the head of the Nairobi assault, many jumped to the conclusion that it must be Lewthwaite – the widow of Jermaine Lindsay – one of four suicide bombers who launched the 7/7 suicide attacks on London.

And in the storm that followed the news that armed militants were stalking Westgate Mall, Lewthwaite was praised in what was believed to be a Twitter account run by al-Shabaab, the Somali terror group which claimed responsibility for the attack.

Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said: "By requesting an Interpol Red Notice, Kenya has activated a global 'trip-wire' for this fugitive. Through the Interpol Red Notice, Kenyan authorities have ensured that all 190 member countries are aware of the danger posed by this woman, not just across the region but also worldwide."

The warrant was issued as the number of Britons killed in the Nairobi shopping mall attack was reduced from six to five.

The Foreign Office said one of the victims previously thought to have been a UK national was Kenyan.

Yet while the Red Notice was issued at the behest of the Kenyan authorities, it did not draw an explicit link between Lewthwaite and the assault on Westgate.

Instead, it stated that Lewthwaite was "wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony in December 2011".

Speculation about Lewthwaite's involvement has already caused her frail Banbridge grandmother to be taken to hospital.

Those who knew her later, when she lived in England said they were "astonished and amazed" at the link.

White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite's grandmother is home from hospital

Mystery Irish ex-Army hero saved hundreds in terror attack at Nairobi mall

Disbelief at widow's 'terror link'

Western intelligence officials remain sceptical of unconfirmed claims Lewthwaite was among the attackers who stormed the shopping complex and was even issuing instructions to the militants.

However, as she is a person with known links to al-Shabaab, officials have not ruled out the possibility that she may have been a "facilitator" for the attack, involved in planning and also logistics.

The 29-year-old from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, is also being sought in connection with a bomb plot in Mombasa two years ago, for which another British national, Jermaine Grant, is standing trial in Kenya.

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BACKGROUND

Samantha Lewthwaite is considered part of a 'British Connection' of jihadists in Somalia. Lewthwaite enjoyed an unremarkable childhood in Banbridge, Co Down, before moving to Aylesbury at a young age. She is the daughter of English soldier Andy Lewthwaite, who met and married Irish Catholic Christine Allen while serving in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. In 1995 her parents split. After converting to Islam at 17, Lewthwaite changed her name to Sherafiyah and married Lindsay. They had three children together. Lindsay detonated the bomb at King's Cross tube station, killing 26 people in July 2005.

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