Zee Media Bureau
Nairobi: One day after the terrible Westgate shopping mall crisis here was over, the Interpol issued a "Red Notice" for the arrest of Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of a 7/7 bomber, linked to militant group al Shabaab.
According to the news reports, the Interpol has issued a worldwide arrest notice for Samantha at the request of Kenyan authorities.
Kenyan authorities had also confirmed today that militants from the same extremist group, Al Shabaab, that had took over a mall also attacked a security post near the Somali border, killing two police officers.
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It was believed that Lewthwaite might have been one of the al Shabaab terrorists who attacked the Nairobi Westgate mall last weekend and killed at least 72 in a four-day siege. Some of the witnesses reported a white woman as being among the terrorists.
Kenyan authorities had previously wanted Lewthwaite in connection with other terrorist charges too.
The Interpol ‘Red Notice’ — or arrest notice — 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.
The notice was issued on Friday, just days after the Westgate mall siege ended.
“By requesting an INTERPOL Red Notice, Kenya has activated a global ‘tripwire’ for this fugitive,” said Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble.
“Through the INTERPOL Red Notice, Kenyan authorities have ensured that all 190 member countries are aware of the danger posed by this woman, not just across the region but also worldwide.”
Kenya mall attack mastermind studied in Pakistan
Meanwhile, reports also claim that the alleged Somali mastermind of the attack on the Westgate shopping mall connected with jihadists while studying in Pakistan and later fought in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, known as Godane, earned a scholarship in the 1990s to study in Pakistan, where he "connected with jihadist circles", analysts were quoted as saying by Washington Post.
Godane then travelled to "Afghanistan to train and fight, as well as to Kashmir", the report said.
The militant commander, thought to be in his mid-30s, returned to Somalia in 2002 and joined the Islamic Courts Union, an Islamist group that controlled large swaths in the southern part of the country.
He held senior positions until late 2006, when the transitional government drove the Islamists out. Hard-liners from the group then formed al Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people, including three Indian nationals.
The report described Godane as "a man of contradictions". He is "bookish, eloquent in both Arabic and Somali, recites poetry and is known to quote from obscure academic journals".
But he also ruthlessly killed most of his rivals to seize control of al Shabaab, the Somali militia linked to al Qaeda.
Al Shabaab said the attack in Nairobi was revenge for Kenya sending troops into Somalia. But the report said the carnage was just as much to do with the struggles inside the militia and Godane`s desire to make Al Shabaab and himself stronger and more relevant in the global jihad.
"The attack was Godane`s way of solidifying his recent quelling of internal dissent and firmly placing the organisation as a global jihadist entity," said Abdi Aynte, director of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, a Mogadishu-based think tank.
Al Shabaab`s larger footprint under Godane comes as al Qaeda`s central branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan is increasingly diminished.
With PTI inputs