The British woman known as “the white widow” has risen through the ranks of the Somalia-based Islamic terrorist organization Al-Shabaab, and has had a hand in more than 400 murders, according to counter-terrorism officials in the African nation.
Samantha Lewthwaite, a 31-year-old Muslim convert and mother of four whose husband was one of the London 7/7 suicide bombers, has the confidence of Al-Shabaab leader Ahmad Umar and played a key role in last month’s slaughter of 148 people at a university in Kenya, according to Somali security chiefs.
"We will get her eventually."
- Somali security source
"This lady sits at the right hand of the leader directing attacks," a Somali security chief told The Mirror.
Lewthwaite’s rapid rise in the Muslim terror organization, despite being a foreigner and a woman, is believed to have been aided by the deaths of several Al-Shabaab leaders killed by U.S. drone strikes. She plays a key role in planning suicide attacks and car bombings in Somalia and Kenya, countries ravaged by the terrorist group’s bloody reign. She also leads the recruitment of children and women to become suicide bombers for cash, according to The Mirror.
"She does not carry out attacks herself as she is too important, but is responsible for many, many deaths – hundreds,” said a source The Mirror identified only as the top officer at Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency. “She uses children to kill for her after giving money to their families."
Somali and British agents are working together in and around Mogadishu to track Lewthwaite, who the source said is surrounded by fellow Britons.
“We will get her eventually,” the source said.
Lewthwaite fled the United Kingdom with her children after her husband, Germaine Lindsay, whom she had met online when she was 17, killed himself in the 2005 attack. The coordinated bombings, carried out by Lindsay and three others aboard London Underground trains across the city and a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, killed 52 and injured more than 700.
Since fleeing to Somalia, Lewthwaite has been linked to several terror attacks, including the 2013 Westgate mall attack in Nairobi that killed 67.
Last year, there were reports that Lewthwaite had been killed in Ukraine, but those proved to be unfounded. INTERPOL put out a “red notice” on Lewthwaite in 2013, noting she uses the alias “Natalie Webb.” The notice was circulated to all 190 INTERPOL member countries and likely made it nearly impossible for Lewthwaite to travel.
“By requesting an INTERPOL Red Notice, Kenya has activated a global ‘tripwire’ for this fugitive,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble.