Kenya mall attack: Who is Samantha Lewthwaite, the `White Widow`?

By Hemant Abhishek | Last Updated: Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 21:27

Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek

On July 7, 2005, a bomb went off on London`s Tube at King’s Cross station killing 26 people. The bomber, Germaine Lindsay, had blown himself up in the carriage. That was when the cops first came across Samantha Lewthwaite, Lindsay`s wife, who completely denied having any prior knowledge of the horrific attack.

Weeks later, she was put off surveillance and went off the radar only to resurface eight years later as the `White Widow.`

She has had her run-ins with the law during this period.

Lewthwaite is supposedly the financer, recruiter and trainer for al Qaeda, and has knit an all-women jihadist squad in Africa. She is accused of orchestrating grenade attacks at worship centres of `kuffars` (unbelievers of Islam) and behind attack on those watching football in bars during Euro 2012. An eyewitness of the latter incident identified her from pictures of the incident; otherwise her role is mostly unproven.

The 29-year-old daughter of a soldier hails from Banbridge, County Down, Ireland, and has two daughters with whom she has been on the run. In Kenya, she is known as the lynchpin of a terrorist team that consists of a number of British nationals and has links with the al Qaeda affiliate terrorist group, al Shabab.

When police raided a rented accommodation in Mombasa, where they believed she had lived, they found chemicals similar to those that her husband had used in the London Tube bombing. But she had managed to give the authorities a slip.

After slipping off British intelligence for years, the `White Widow` has resurfaced on their radar. She is said to be involved in the militant attack at a Nairobi mall that have killed over 68 people so far—many of whom are westerners.

The centre of Nairobi`s terror attack, the Westgate Mall, is frequented by Westerners and the non-residents in the city. The attack is just one among a series of recent attacks involving British nationals as perpetrators or victims. Kenyan authorities have a strong suspicion that Samantha Lewthwaite, or the `White Widow` could be behind it.

Kenyan government spokesperson confirmed that some of those rescued from the mall had sighted a "white woman" among the hostage-takers.

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First Published: Monday, September 23, 2013 - 13:48

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