A Belfast newspaper reports that the woman who tried to cross the Kenyan border into Somalia yesterday, showing Italian identity documents in the name of Maria Mira Martinez and claiming to work for a Northern Ireland charity, was Lewthwaite. She disappeared after immigration officials refused to let her pass. The charity denies employing anyone by that name or knowing anything about the story. A Kenyan army spokesman says a team of detectives is investigating the woman’s identity, and if it was the White Widow, why she wanted to visit a Kenyan military installation in Somalia.
Kenyan police investigate reports of a white woman’s attempt to cross the border into Somalia. The unknown woman allegedly paid two policemen to escort her in a rented vehicle to the border, where she was stopped. She reportedly told immigration officials that she had a package to deliver to Kenyan troops stationed in southern Somalia and then disappeared when told she could not cross. Anti-terrorism sources in Nairobi downplay the event, saying:
She is long gone, in Somalia, perhaps, or Tanzania, we don’t know, but we do know that even she would not be stupid enough to return to Kenya then hire police officers to try to help her escape again into Somalia.
A local police commander says that the woman was a Spanish tourist who has since returned home, but he declines to give any more details. Detectives are still looking into the incident.
Intelligence sources say Lewthwaite has married Hassan Maalim Ibrahim, a suspected warlord and senior al-Shabaab commander, in Somalia. An unnamed source tells the Mirror:
Her in-laws will treat her very well as she is now one of them and part of one of the large clans. Samantha is in a heavily guarded village in a no-go area for outsiders. But we’re sure she’ll move around which is why she needs to get in with the family.At the moment she hardly leaves her grass thatch house. She wears black socks and gloves and hijab to cover her white skin so spies won’t see her. Samantha has given herself great protection with this marriage.
In response to media reports about her possible involvement, a Kenyan police chief says it is established that no woman was in the group that attacked the Westgate mall in Nairobi on September 21st. The attack by armed al-Shabab gunmen left at least 67 people dead and 39 missing. All of the gunmen were killed.
By requesting an Interpol Red Notice, Kenya has activated a global ‘tripwire’ for this fugitive. 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.
Red Notices contain details about identification and judicial information. They request that member countries arrest the individual pending extradition.
Two of Mombasa’s most senior police officers tell media that Lewthwaite is not a part of their investigation into the grenade attack on the Jericho Beer Garden that killed 26. Despite reports alleging that a woman matching her description was seen near the bar shortly before the explosion, a police chief says:
We have arrested only one person, a man who was also wounded in the attack. We are not investigating any women.
Kenyan authorities reveal that they have charged Lewthwaite with possession of acetone, hydrogen peroxide, ammonium nitrate, sulfur, lead nitrate, batteries, a switch and electrical wire, as well as charging her with conspiracy to cause an explosion. They claim that she, Jermaine Grant and another radicalized Briton named Habib Saleh Ghani planned Christmas 2011 attacks on luxury tourist hotels along Kenya’s coast. As part of a terrorist cell, the three allegedly rented several houses in Mombasa, including at least two close to resorts. Raids on the houses in late December and January found bomb-making equipment as well as an assault rifle, ammunition and plastic bags stuffed with cash. Kenya’s assistant director of public prosecutions says:
Samantha Lewthwaite was charged in absentia and a warrant of arrest issued against her. She is still at large.
Kenyan police issue a warrant for the arrest of Natalie Faye Webb. Investigators say that the woman is using three separate identities and one of them is Samantha Lewthwaite. An anonymous police source in Nairobi says:
We have had some positive feedback from publishing her picture, and I can say the dragnet is closing. I can give no details, but suffice it to say that we believe she is not a small fish. She is among several Britons that our intelligence service is aware of in relation to terrorists’ plans to attack us.
Radicalized Briton Jermaine Grant is arrested in Mombasa on charges of possessing bomb-making materials in connection with a planned attack on tourists over Christmas 2011. Grant rents a expensive house near a string of luxury hotels, and Lewthwait lives there. Police question but don’t arrest her, believing her to be an innocent tourist. She then disappears, possibly fleeing to Somalia.
As Natalie Faye Webb, crosses into Kenya from Tanzania with three children. Later leaves Kenya at least twice but comes back on August 25 and November 21. While in Kenya, believed to be under police surveillance after moving into a Mombasa apartment belonging to the wife of a former terrorist financier.
Enters South Africa as Natalie Faye Webb, using a fraudulently obtained passport. Works as an IT specialist at a halaal pie factory in south-west of Johannesburg, racking up big loan and charge card debts. Later described as a quiet woman who keeps to herself, she lives in Mayfair, a Muslim area, keeps a post office box in nearby Brixton, and leases property in a suburb across town. Between now and February 2011, when the passport is placed on a stop list, she enters and leaves the country several times.
Fifteen days after giving birth, Lewthwaite tells the media that her husband met a group of men at a prayer meeting last year and began to travel for days at a time, visiting mosques around the country. She assumed he was at a mosque on the 7th, reported him missing after the bombings, and then her “world collapsed” when police then showed her CCTV footage of him on his way to the attack.
How these people could have turned him and poisoned his mind is dreadful. He was an innocent, naive and simple man. I suppose he must have been an ideal candidate…What on earth had changed so much so quickly to turn him from loving husband and father to a man who could carry a bomb on to a Tube train and kill.
Police are called after neighbors smell gasoline in the street near her house in Aylesbury, which has been a focus of local attention ever since after officers from Scotland Yard searched it. Lewthwaite is not at home, having been taken to a safe house after her husband’s role in the bombings became known. The area around the house is sealed off.
At Luton, husband Germaine Lindsay (second from left in picture), who used to live in Yorkshire, meets fellow bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer and Hasib Hussain, who have driven from Yorkshire in a rental car. The four men board a train to King’s Cross, where they fan out, each wearing a backpack filled with explosives. Lindsay gets on a Picadilly train headed to Russell Square and detonates his bomb at 8:50, killing 26 people besides himself and injuring more than 340.
Lewthwaite later tells media that he had left for the bombings from home:
He kissed our child goodbye and then crept off to blow up King’s Cross. In the morning I found he’d left the keys on a table downstairs. He obviously had no more use for them.
However, his mother claims that Lewthwaite threw him out two days before the bombings after discovering he had sent text messages to a girl. At the inquest, an Aylesbury woman says Lindsay tried to date her. He read her al-Qaeda poems and asked her to get a gun for him, which she refused to do. The woman says:
He did not mention any type of gun. I told him no and asked him why he would need a gun. He told me that he was going to London with some of his mates to teach some people a lesson. He said it was to do with drugs.
My father Andy didn’t approve and stayed away and my mum just couldn’t make it. I was his youngest daughter. He found it hard enough when I converted to Islam, without marrying a Muslim I had hardly met.
Enrolls in the School of Oriental and African Studies in Russell Square, London, for a degree in religion but leaves without graduating.
Lewthwaite becomes more withdrawn after parents separate in the 1990s. She starts confiding in a local Muslim family and converts to Islam in her teens, taking the name Sherafiyah and wearing the hijab.
Samantha Lewthwaite is born to Andrew and Elizabeth Lewthwaite in Banbridge, County Down, Ireland. Andrew was a British soldier who served in Northern Ireland, where he met Elizabeth, during the height of the troubles. Samantha goes to Ballydown Primary School in Banbridge. When the family moves to Buckinghamshire in southeast England, she attends Elmhurst middle school and The Grange secondary school in Aylesbury. A Muslim man who knew her there says:
She had a little bit of a crush on my mate, who was three or four years older than her – it’s normal at that age. My mate wasn’t interested. I can’t say she had extreme views about anything, and she wasn’t Muslim at that time.