The father of Samantha Lewthwaite, believed to be among the armed Al-Shabaab group who attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi killing 69 innocent people, had found his daughter's connection with terrorism “painful” to bear.
Andy Lewthwaite, now 57, served as a British soldier in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, at the height of the Troubles.
It is believed that his daughter Samantha, dubbed the “White Widow,” was one of the terrorists behind the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. Authorities in Kenya are still trying to determine if she was involved and if she has been killed in the violence.
The Lewthwaite family have been dealing with a great deal of strain since the 7/7 bombings in London perpetrated by Samantha’s husband Germaine Lindsay, who killed 26 people.
Born in Banbridge, County Down, Samantha enjoyed a happy and uneventful childhood with two other siblings. She moved to Aylesbury, Bucks, at a young age and in 1995 her parents split up.
Her family have had to come to terms with that fact that Samantha the White Widow has killed innocent people.
Speaking to the Mirror one neighbor of the family spoke about her father’s pain. They said, “Andy is aware of how appalling indiscriminate shootings are.
"For him to imagine his own daughter is involved in this is very painful.
“He has been very dignified. He served his country; his daughter is apparently tarnishing both his reputation and his country’s reputation.”
People who knew Samantha growing up are shocked by what they’re hearing in the news.
Businessman Niknam Hussein (50) met Lewthwaite when she was in her teens.
He said, “She was quiet and shy. There was nothing extraordinary about her. The frightening thing is she was perfectly normal.”
Hussein added, “How does a housewife and mother suddenly become the mastermind of an attack in East Africa? She came from a close family.
“Even after 7/7 they were still together under police protection, her and her parents.
“They are mystified and angry. They are astonished as I am.”
Raj Khan, an Aylesbury councilor, said, “I knew her when she was a child.
"She was very innocent, lacking confidence, shy and very easy to get on with. She was a follower not a leader.
“That’s why I find it absolutely amazing that she is supposed to be the head of an international criminal terrorist organization.”
At the age of 17 Samantha converted to Islam and changed her name to Sherafiyah. She married Lindsay who was responsible for detonating the bomb at King's Cross Tube station, killing 26 people in July 2005.
Having been questioned in relation to the London attacks she disappeared with her three children and resurfaced two years later travelling to Kenya under a false passport.
Her third child was fathered by Habib Ghani, of Hounslow, West London, in 2009. Ghani was shot in Somalia two weeks ago in what is believed to have been a row between Al-Shabaab factions. It is believed that her grief could have spurred on her actions.
It is also alleged that Lewthwaite, along with an al-Shabaab Briton, Jermaine Grant, were behind plans to bomb a Kenyan beach resort in Mombasa in December 2011.
Having raided a flat police found bomb-making equipment and chemicals but Lewthwaite escaped. Grant’s trial for these crimes began this week.