New photograph of Northern Ireland al-Qaida suspect released
A new image of the Northern Ireland mother being hunted in connection with a bombing campaign in Kenya has been released by police.
The photograph, which was taken on a mobile phone by an undercover Kenyan police officer, shows Samantha Lewthwaite (28) as she crossed the border into the east African country last August.
Lewthwaite, a mother-of-three who spent part of her childhood in Banbridge, Co Down, was married to one of the 7/7 London suicide bombers and is thought to be part of a cell affiliated to al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia.
A senior Kenyan police official said Lewthwaite had now fled the country for Somalia.
Authorities in Kenya confirmed that fingerprints of the woman they have dubbed the ‘White Widow’ are those of Lewthwaite. She was pictured renewing her visa at a border crossing using a fake South African passport in the name of Natalie Webb — an Essex-based nurse who has been the victim of identity theft.
Lewthwaite, whose mother is from Banbridge, has been at the centre of an international hunt involving the CIA, Scotland Yard and Kenyan police after being linked to an al-Qaida plot to blow up hotels for western tourists in the coastal resort of Mombasa.
Police issued a warrant for her arrest in January after discovering a bomb-making factory and rifle ammunition following a raid on several houses linked to the terror cell.
She went on the run with her children and another terror suspect, Habib Saleh Ghani, who used to live in west London, after being tipped off about the police raid and was believed to have escaped across the border to Tanzania.
A Kenyan police chief told the Metropolitan police: “Samantha Lewthwaite's fingerprints have been confirmed by detectives we have been working with from the UK.” He also said she would not escape if she passed through exit points at the border.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Ambrose Munyasyam, head of Mombasa's criminal investigations department, said: “I have a strong team of officers in anti-terrorism and they are determined to find her.”
But the mother-of-three, who is said to have been in charge of the bomb campaign’s finances, is now understood to have crossed the border into Somalia.