LONDON — Interpol on Thursday issued an arrest notice on behalf of Kenyan authorities for Samantha Lewthwaite, the fugitive Briton whom news media have dubbed the "white widow."
Lewthwaite — a 29-year-old Muslim convert whose first husband was one of the suicide bombers in the 2005 attack on the London transit system that killed 52 commuters — is wanted by Kenyan authorities over alleged involvement in a plot to bomb holiday resorts there.
Social media reports that a white female was leading last week's terrorist attack on an upscale Nairobi shopping mall — followed by comments from Kenya's foreign minister that a British woman had been involved — led some British broadcasters and newspapers to link Lewthwaite to the recent attack on the Westgate mall, despite the lack of hard evidence that she was involved.
The Interpol notice made no mention of Westgate, however, saying that Lewthwaite is wanted on charges of possessing explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony in December 2011.
African authorities have linked her to other attacks as well — again, without presenting evidence of her involvement. She is believed to have been questioned by police once but was not taken into custody.
She originally criticized her late husband — Jermaine Lindsay — for taking part in the transit attacks, but later apparently embraced the jihadi cause.
She told The Sun newspaper in September 2005 that her husband had fallen under the influence of radical mosques.
"How 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.
"He 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."