When Samantha Lewthwaite’s husband, Germaine Lindsay, bombed a train in London as part of the terrorist attacks on the London Underground on July 7, 2005, many thought she was also a victim. She claimed she did not know about the attack and condemned it, saying her husband was lured into the plot by extremists. However, she later vanished, and now witnesses claim she was part of the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya.
On September 21, Muslim terrorists from the al Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab opened fire on innocent civilians in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. They told the shoppers they only wanted to kill non-Muslims. Witnesses said the terrorists lined up men, women, and children to quiz them over Islam, killing them in cold blood if they were unable to answer correctly.
The siege ended on Monday, but there are still many unknowns, including the nationalities of the terrorists. Witnesses claim they saw a white woman among the attackers, but Kenyan police claim only men were involved. Even al-Shabaab spokesmen said they do not send women into the battlefield.
Whether Lewthwaite was involved or not it is important to know about this “White Widow.” She was born in 1983 in Northern Ireland to a soldier that fought against terrorist attacks. Her parents divorced in 1995, an event that triggered her conversion to Islam. She met Germaine Lindsay in an Islamic chatroom, and they later married in 2002. He blew himself up in 2005, leaving her with a 14-month old child and seven months pregnant with another.
In 2009 she disappeared.
Lewthwaite is now a mother of three, although there is no confirmation of her taking another husband. She was found in Kenya in possession of a fake passport and was a suspect related to terrorist activity when Kenyan officials found her fingerprints during an investigation into an al Qaeda plot against Western tourists. This led officials to believe she was working with the Somalia group al-Shabaab, an offshoot of al Qaeda. The Mombasa police gave her the nickname “White Widow”; it would not be her last brush with the law:
As police began adding up her alleged misdeeds, her legend only grew. In 2011, she narrowly avoided arrest when police raided two apartments in Mombasa where she was believed to be residing. Investigators found explosives, an assault rifle, detonators, and trash bags filled with cash, along with the same types of chemicals used by her husband in the 2005 London bombing. That same year, Kenyan anti-terror police interviewed her after they found her staying with a known al Qaeda associate, but she managed to convince them that she was a tourist by using a fake South African passport, and escaped. Then, in 2012, she once more evaded Kenyan security forces and slipped into Somalia, where, according to Kenyan police, she linked up with al-Shabab, the al Qaeda-affiliated group responsible for the attack on the Nairobi shopping mall. From there, the tales only grow more fantastic. One rumor has it that she serves as al Qaeda’s chief financier in the region. Another has it that she has worked to build her own all-female jihadi gang. As if that weren’t enough, her children are thought to still be with her
Jermaine Grant, her accused accomplice in the planned 2011 attack, is currently on trial in Mombasa. Scotland Yard counter-terrorism detective Robert Garrick testified yesterday and said the police found sexy lingerie at her Kenyan safe house along with her birth certificate. He said there were plenty of pink and red lingerie in her room.
Despite the witnesses, Kenyan officials at the scene said all the terrorists were men and some dressed as women. CNN security analyst Peter Begen said it would be out of the ordinary for Lewthwaite to have participated since these radical Muslims prefer their women in the home.
Regardless, the evidence proves Lewthwaite is a threat even if she was not involved in the Westgate attack.