Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Warped world of the 'White Widow' - the Banbridge schoolgirl who became most wanted Islamist

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 24/09/2013

'White Widow' Samantha Lewthwaite
'White Widow' Samantha Lewthwaite

It was inevitable that Samantha Lewthwaite, dubbed the White Widow, would be linked with the Kenyan shopping mall massacre in which Islamic terrorists killed scores of shoppers. She has gained an almost mythical notoriety in the region and is credited with taking part in several serious terrorist incidents. As we know from our own recent past, reputations are not always built on the surest of facts.

Yet her journey from life as a bright young girl in Banbridge, Co Down to being one of the world's most wanted Islamists is an astonishing one and surely should serve as a lesson to everyone on how the evil tentacles of terrorism can embrace even the most unlikely targets. This is the daughter of a British soldier and a Northern Ireland woman who in her teens married one of the Islamic suicide bombers responsible for killing 52 people in London when they blew up Tube trains and a bus in 2005.

She later fled to Africa and is believed to have become associated with a group with close links to al-Qaida.

These terrorist groups are rejected by most of the world but that does not stop them preying on the vulnerable and the weak.

While the global war on terrorism may have been debased by Tony Blair and George Bush, it still has to be fought in the minds and hearts of people as much as on any battlefield.

The story of Samantha Lewthwaite is a salutary one.

If someone of her background can be so readily recruited and become so fanatical, then how many others may also be recruited by these terrorist organisations?

The real enemy is those who warp the minds of the impressionable and then send them out to do unspeakable deeds against innocent people in pursuit of a nihilistic vision shared by no rational people and often based on an extreme misreading of the Koran to give it some sort of validation.

Countering those warped teachings is the most difficult anti-terrorist fight of all.

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