White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite 'radicalised by top al-Qaida recruiter in Yemen'
Samantha Lewthwaite may have been radicalised by an al-Qaida kingpin in Yemen, it has emerged.
The widow of one of the July 7 bombers, Lewthwaite, who was born and raised for some time in Banbridge, Co Down, has claimed to have spent some time in Yemen, raising fears that she may have been influenced by al-Qaida's most prolific recruiter, Anwar al-Awalaki.
Until he was killed in a US drone attack in 2011, al-Awalaki was credited with inspiring a new generation of jihadists in the West through his English language internet videos.
It is understood that al-Awalaki has influenced, among others, one of the Boston marathon bombers, as well as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – the man who tried to blow up a passenger jet over Detroit with a bomb sewn in to his underpants four years ago.
Until now, Lewthwaite who has become known as 'the White Widow' was only thought to have visited Africa, where she is believed to have strong links to al-Shabaab, the Somalian wing of al-Qaida, which was responsible for last month's Kenyan shopping mall massacre.
Lewthwaite (29), also recently made a bizarre series of Twitter rants making reference to Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing.
It is believed that Lewthwaite is using a Twitter account called the Muslim Youth Centre, a Kenyan-affiliated offshoot of al-Shabaab.
Lewthwaite stopped tweeting in the aftermath of the Kenyan attacks, which killed 67 people, and has only re-emerged online as recently as last week.
One of her posts read: "Muslims in Somalia don't want to sit at home on a Saturday evening glued to Strictly Come Dancing with its C-list 'stars' :)))."
In another she said, "In Islam there's no choice. It's not like, 'Do I watch Eastenders or Corrie tonight?' No shortcuts in Islam!"
Although it is impossible to verify who is composing the tweets, intelligence analysts believe that they are from the White Widow.
The author refers to herself as a "girl in Kenya", uses British references and speaks of Lewthwaite in the third person.
After the Nairobi attacks, an international arrest warrant was issued for Lewthwaite's arrest.
She has been on the run from Kenyan authorities for over two years after narrowly escaping a police raid.
Lewthwaite, who was married to suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay, is the daughter of English soldier Andy Lewthwaite, who met and married Catholic, Christine Allen, while serving in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.
She enjoyed an unremarkable 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 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.