Who is the White Widow, Samantha Lewthwaite? 10 things we know


Thursday 26 September 2013 16:00

Update 26/09/13: Interpol has issued a Red Notice, or internationally wanted persons alert, for Samantha Lewthwaite at the request of authorities in Kenya. Here's what we know so far about the so-called 'White Widow'...

* Birth: The daughter of a British Army soldier, Samantha Lewthwaite was born in Bainbridge, County Down, Ireland in 1983.

* Conversion: Distressed by the divorce of her parents, Lewthwaite converted to Islam during her teens after spending time with Muslim neighbours and reportedly finding comfort in their conservative values.

* Education: Schooled in Buckinghamshire, Lewthwaite went on to start a degree at the London School of Oriental and African studies. She dropped out.

* Marriage: Lewthwaite met Germaine Lindsay on an internet chat room and married him in 2002.

* 7/7: Three years later, on 7 July 2005, Lindsay carried out a suicide bomb attack on a London underground train. 26 civilians were killed. Lewthwaite, then pregnant with her second child with Lindsay, denied all knowledge of the attack and publicly condemned her husband.

* Terrorist allegiance: Lewthwaite is an alleged member of Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab, reported by the Daily Mail to have performed the role of banker.

* Wanted by police: In February 2012 Kenyan police sought a woman using Lewthwaite's identity, after a fake passport with her picture was found in a raid on a house linked to terrorist activity. It was later reported that the suspect was Lewthwaite herself.

* Notebook found: A notebook found by police at the Kenyan house rented by Lewthwaite, and allegedly written by her, contained the framework for a guide to Jihad. The handwritten document said the inspiration for the book was given by Lewthwaite's two children, five and eight, who told their mother they wanted to be holy warriors when they grew up.

* Grenade attack: In August 2013 she was accused of orchestrating a grenade attack on a bar in Mombasa showing the England - Italy Euro 2012 football match.

* Westgate: Kenya's foreign minister Amina Mohamed has said : "I have heard of one Brit... a woman [involved in the attack]... and I think she has done this many times before".

Our initial report on the suspect can be read here.

Deputy World News Editor Enjoli Liston advises caution on linking Lewthwaite to Westgate mall in a piece for Independent Voices.

And Ian Birrell writes on what the West should and should no do in the battle to vanquish Al-Shabaab.

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