The international police organization, Interpol, has issued a “red notice” alert, on behalf of Kenya, for the arrest of the County Down-born woman known as the “White Widow.”
Samantha Lewthwaite is wanted for the two-year-old charges of the possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony. She is also wanted for the possession of a fake South African passport. Lewthwaite, born in Banbridge, County Down, may be using the alias “Natalie Webb.”
She is the daughter of a British soldier who was serving in Northern Ireland and a Catholic woman. The family moved back to Britain when she was in middle school.
The “red alert” notice, issued on Thursday, did not mention the terrorist attacks on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, which she is believed to have been involved in.
So far the al-Shabaab attack on the high-end mall, located close to the United Nations offices, has killed 69 people and injured 175 others. As the authorities continue to sift t through the remnants of the mall following the use of grenades, explosives and machine guns the death toll is expected to rise.
Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble said “By requesting an Interpol Red Notice, Kenya has activated a global ‘tripwire’ for this fugitive.”
He added “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.”
On Wednesday night the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said "intelligence reports" had "suggested" that a British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved in the attack.
He added "We cannot confirm the details at present, but forensic experts are working to ascertain the nationalities of the terrorists."
Kenyan Interior Cabinet Secretary Ole Lenku also said the government could not confirm is a woman was among the Al-Shabaab attackers. He said “We cannot conclusively confirm the identity of any of the suspects until the forensic investigations have been concluded.”
However the Independent reported that survivors of the attack recall seeing a female, fitting Lewthwaite’s description, acting in a leadership role and issuing orders during the assault.
Forensic teams have begun mapping the evidence at the mall. This will include fingerprinting, DNA collection and ballistics. It will involve FBI agents along with experts from Israel, Britain, Canada and Interpol.
Al-Shabab, the Somali Islamist extremist group, took responsibility for the attack and the siege of the mall that lasted four days. They said that foreigners were a "legitimate target" and confirmed witness accounts that gunmen separated Muslims from other people and let the Muslims go free. The non-Muslims were gunned down.
In an email to the Associated Press Al-Shabaab said "The Mujahideen carried out a meticulous vetting process at the mall and have taken every possible precaution to separate the Muslims from the Kuffar (disbelievers) before carrying out their attack.”
Here’s NTV Kenya’s report on the Interpol alert