Belfast Telegraph

White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite 'claimed to be Northern Ireland charity worker'

By Claire Williamson

The world's most wanted woman used fake documents suggesting she was working for a Northern Irish charity as she tried to cross the Kenyan border, according to reports.

But blundering Kenyan officials let the woman – White Widow terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite – slip through their fingers.

Security sources told one newspaper that the woman was carrying Italian identity documents using the name Maria Mira Martinez and claimed to be working for the charity Friends of Africa, which is based in Newry, Co Down.

A spokeswoman for the charity told the Belfast Telegraph it knew absolutely nothing about the story and that no one by that name worked for it.

Yesterday, reports emerged that police bosses in the coastal town of Lamu held a crisis meeting following revelations that junior officers had given an armed escort to a mysterious white woman in a Toyota Land Cruiser in April.

The Standard newspaper claimed the soldiers failed to recognise that a vehicle with the same registration plate was used to attack and kill two of their own comrades last week in a drive-by shooting. One police officer said the vehicle had previously been used by terror group al-Shabaab.

It said she stayed at a hotel in Ras Kambonifor for almost a week while guarded by two armed policemen, and visited police stations and other security installations.

Police had said the woman wanted to visit a camp belonging to the Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia. One source said she had been planning to plant a bomb in the military base.

But the woman disappeared after her attempts to enter Somalia were blocked by immigration officials.

Lamu police commander Leonard Omollo said the woman had provided documents showing an identity that did not arouse their suspicions.

Mr Omollo refused to reveal the name the unknown woman had given, saying that it would jeopardise investigations, but told the AFP news agency the woman had been identified as a Spanish tourist who had since returned home, without giving further details.

However, Kenyan army spokesman Willy Wesonga confirmed that a team of detectives is investigating whether the woman was Lewthwaite – who was born in Banbridge, Co Down – and if it was her, why she had intended to visit the Kenyan army camp.

Following last year's attack on the Nairobi shopping centre, Kenya sought an international warrant for her arrest. An Interpol statement said she was "wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011".

Last month it was reported that the Lewthwaite had got married while on the run in Somalia.

It was claimed she had tied the knot with a ruthless terror chief, Islamic warlord Hassan Maalim Ibrahim, also known as Sheikh Hassan.

BACKGROUND

Born in Northern Ireland, Samantha Lewthwaite is the daughter of English soldier Andy Lewthwaite, who met and married Catholic Christine Allen while serving here in the 1970s.

She spent her childhood in Banbridge, Co Down, before moving to Aylesbury in England at a young age.

After converting to Islam at 17, Lewthwaite changed her name to Sherafiyah and married Jermaine Lindsay, with the couple having three children together.

Lindsay went on to detonate the bomb at King's Cross Tube station, killing 26 people in July 2005.

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