South Africa’s City Press reported over the weekend that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency had warned the local Jewish community in South Africa that Samantha Lewthwaite (a.k.a. the “White Widow”) had entered the country and was a known threat, having been recorded observing several foreign embassies. Lewthwaite is suspected of participating in last week’s attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
South Africa’s Jewish community runs a volunteer security group, the Community Security Organization (CSO), to protect synagogues and worshippers from crime and terrorism. According to sources cited by the City Press‘s Jacques Pouw, the CSO learned from an intelligence agency, likely Mossad, of evidence of Lewthwaite’s interest in British diplomatic targets in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital.
Lewthwaite is thought to have used a fraudulent South African passport–obtained with help from within South Africa’s own Department of Home Affairs–to travel in the region. The Westgate mall was owned by Israelis and may have been chosen as a target partly for that reason. A decade ago, Al Qaeda terrorists attacked an Israeli-owned resort in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, killing Israelis and locals.