Interpol issues arrest notice for ‘white widow,’ who is wanted by Kenya


The Interpol website features a 'Red Notice' for the arrest of Samantha Lewthwaite, also referred to as the ‘White Widow’ on Sept. 26, 2013 in London. The notice was requested by Kenyan authorities following the terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping complex in Nairobi. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
September 26, 2013

British news outlets are seemingly in a frenzy over a woman known as the “white widow.”

Interpol on Thursday issued an international arrest notice for Samantha Lewthwaite, 29, a British national who was married to one of the suicide bombers in the July 7, 2005, attack on London’s transit system. The news fueled speculation here about Lewthwaite’s possible connection to the four-day assault at an upscale mall in Nairobi that left scores of people dead.

There is no evidence linking Lewthwaite to the attack, which ended this week. The Interpol warrant said she is “wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011.” But since Kenya’s foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, suggested Monday that a British woman who had “done this many times before” was involved in the mall assault, the news media here have been discussing the possibility of Lewthwaite’s involvement.

The Mirror Online described her as “the world’s most wanted woman.” The Guardian noted the “intense speculation” about her possible role in the Kenya attack. “Interpol Joins Hunt for ‘White Widow,’ ” Sky News said.

Interpol said that its red notice was issued at the request of Kenya and that the British fugitive is thought to use the alias “Natalie Webb,” the name that Kenyan authorities found on a forged South African passport carrying a picture that they said bears a striking resemblance to Lewthwaite.

The daughter of a British soldier, Lewthwaite grew up in Aylesbury, a small town northwest of London. She reportedly turned to Islam in her teens after the breakup of her parents’ marriage and later met a man named Germaine Lindsay in an Internet chat room. They married in 2002.

She first came to the public eye after the 2005 attack for being Lindsay’s wife. Soon the tabloids of old Fleet Street had dubbed her the “white widow.”

Lewthwaite publicly condemned the actions of her husband, whose homemade bomb killed 26 civilians on a crowded train near King’s Cross station in central London.

“He met a group who changed his life. He became a man I didn’t recognize,” Lewthwaite said at the time. She was pregnant when Lindsay died.

She hit the headlines again when her name was linked to a raid in December 2011 on a house in Mombasa, Kenya, used by a terrorist cell.

Karla Adam is a reporter in the Washington Post’s London bureau. Before joining the Post in 2006, she worked as a freelancer in London for the New York Times and People magazine.
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