Was the infamous "White Widow"—the British woman whose husband bombed the London Underground in 2005—present at the Kenya Mall Attack?
On Thursday, Interpol issued a Red Notice, or internationally wanted persons alert, for Samantha Lewthwaite, a UK resident better known as the “White Widow,” for crimes possibly related to this week's attack at a Kenyan mall. Lewthwaite is the widow of Germaine Lindsay, one of the four bombers involved in the terror attacks in London in July 2005.
While the alert is technically for 2011 charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony, there's been widespread speculation that Lewthwaite was involved in the shooting and subsequent hostage situation at Nairobi's Westgate mall.
The day after the shooting, Kenya's foreign minister suggested a white woman might have been among the al Shabab militants. While no evidence was presented to support the minister's claim, this set off a wave of rumors that the mystery woman was the “White Widow,” who has been the subject of terror rumors since shortly after her husband's death in 2005.
Lewthwaite left the UK not long after the London bombing, reportedly resurfacing in South Africa in 2008 and later in Somalia and Kenya, where authorities have connected her with a 2011 al Shabab plot to bomb a bridge and several hotels frequented by Western tourists. A December 2011 raid at Lewthwaite's home uncovered bomb-making materials similar to those used by her husband in the 2005 attack in London.
While the Interpol alert was requested by Kenyan officials in relation to the planned 2011 attack, the timing of the request and the wide scope of the hunt implies it could be related to the mall shooting. From the Interpol press release:
Circulated to all 190 INTERPOL member countries, the Red Notice represents one of INTERPOL’s most powerful tools in tracking international fugitives.
“By requesting an INTERPOL Red Notice, Kenya has activated a global ‘tripwire’ for this fugitive,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. 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,” said the Head of INTERPOL.