Samantha Lewthwaite is seen in an undated image provided by Interpol.
(USA TODAY) -- Interpol issued a worldwide "red notice" alert Thursday on behalf of
Kenya for the arrest of a British national known as the "white widow."
Lewthwaite, 29, a Muslim convert, is wanted by Kenya on two-year-old
charges of possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony,
the international crime agency said in a news release. She is also
wanted for alleged possession of a fraudulent South African passport.
notice did not mention this week's attack by Islamist militants on an
upscale Nairobi shopping mall that killed at least 67 people, including
18 foreigners, and injured another 175 people. Al-Shabab, the
Somalia-based al-Qaeda affiliate has claimed responsibility for the
who may be using the alias "Natalie Webb," was married to suicide
bomber Germaine Lindsay, also known as Abdullah Shaheed Jamal. He was
one of the four suicide bombers who detonated explosives in London's
subway system on July 7, 2005, which killed 52 people.
notice" is circulated to police agencies in 190 counties, Interpol
Secretary-General Ronald Noble said. A member country who spots
Lewthwaite is being asked to place her under provisional arrest and
extradite her to the requesting country.
Despite the lack of hard
evidence, some members of the British media tried to link Lewthwaite to
the shopping mall attack, particularly after Kenya's foreign minister
said that a British woman had been involved.
newspaper said that survivors of the attack on the mall recall seeing a
female acting in a leadership role and issuing orders during the
assault. But the newspaper also cited security officials as saying there
was no evidence Lewthwaite was involved and they also questioned her
In addition, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in an address
Wednesday night night that "intelligence reports" had "suggested" that a
British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved
in the attack. "We cannot confirm the details at present, but forensic
experts are working to ascertain the nationalities of the terrorists."
British Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that five British
nationals were killed in the mall attack. The British government had
previously announced six British victims.
Al-Shabab, the Somali
Islamist extremist group that took responsibility for the attack, said
Wednesday that foreigners were a "legitimate target" and confirmed
witness accounts that gunmen separated Muslims from other people and let
the Muslims go free. The others were gunned down or taken hostage.
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," the group said
in an e-mail exchange with the Associated Press.
FBI agents have joined international experts at the crime scene.
Working near bodies crushed by rubble in the bullet-scarred Westgate
mall, FBI agents began fingerprint, DNA and ballistic analysis Wednesday
to help determine the identities and nationalities of victims and
al-Shabab gunmen who attacked the shopping center.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that authorities still did
not have enough information to determine whether any of the attackers
"We don't have any verifiable information that would indicate one way or another that Americans were involved,'' Holder said.
Of the militant group al-Shabaab, Holder said: "I'm not sure they have a capacity to do anything in the U.S.''
mall attack was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998
al-Qaeda truck bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which killed more
than 200 people.
Lewthwaite is a mercurial figure who originally
criticized her late husband for taking part in the transit attacks, but
later apparently embraced the militants' cause.
She told The Sun newspaper in 2005 that her husband had fallen under the influence of radical mosques.
these people could have turned him and poisoned his mind is dreadful,"
the newspaper quoted her as saying. "He was an innocent, naive and
simple man. I suppose he must have been an ideal candidate.
was so angry when he saw Muslim civilians being killed on the streets of
Iraq, Bosnia, Palestine and Israel - and always said it was the
innocent who suffered."
Britain's Evening Standard newspaper reported Thursday evening that Lewthwaite for a time allegedly worked in a South African halal pie factory as a computer technician.
newspaper spoke to the pie factory's former owner, who did not want to
be identified. The owner said the woman she knew as Natalie Faye Webb -
one of several false identifies she apparently used during four years in
South Africa - was "a quiet woman who kept to herself."
newspaper said that "Webb" apparently ran up several thousands of
dollars in debt on bank loans and credit cards. Consumer records
indicate that Lewthwaite/Webb was last in South Africa in May of last
year, the Standard said.
The Sunday Times of South Arica quotes
an unidentified government official as saying she apparently had
assumed the stolen identification of Webb and had applied for and gotten
a South African passport and supporting documents.