Mystery over whereabouts of White Widow terrorist 10 years after she disappeared


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Security analysts have told The Mirror the widowed wife of London 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay is probably being sheltered at a remote location in Somalia or Tanzania

British jihadist Samantha Lewthwaite was on Interpol's list of most wanted criminals
British jihadist Samantha Lewthwaite was on Interpol’s list of most wanted criminals

A decade ago, British jihadist Samantha Lewthwaite was on Interpol’s list of most wanted criminals amid claims she had plotted a string of terror attacks.

Dubbed the White Widow, the blue-eyed Home Counties girl had evaded UK security services and fled to Africa, where she was linked to scores of atrocities from 2012.

But since the furore of the days when mum-of-four Lewthwaite, who turns 40 next year, was rarely out of the news as an alleged al-Shabaab operative, things have gone quiet and her family have no idea where she is.

Security analysts have told the Mirror the widowed wife of London 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay is probably being sheltered at a remote location in Somalia or Tanzania, unable to travel from her hiding place for fear of being killed.

The alternative – as some of her family fear – is that the eleven-popular schoolgirl, from Aylesbury, Bucks, is already dead.

Germaine Lindsay and Samantha Lewthwaite
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Image:

Courtesy ofNetflix)

Lewthwaite’s uncle, Nigel, brother of her dad Andrew, said: “As far as I know my brother’s not heard anything from her since way back. I don’t know how long it’s been.

“She’s probably dead, but they’re not saying anything.”

Asked if the family had received any information from the police or security services, Mr Lewthwaite shook his head.

The blue-eyed Home Counties girl had evaded UK security services and fled to Africa
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GettyImages)

I added: “It’s hard. It’s been 10 years, probably longer than that, but what do we do? I think the last time I saw her was on the night of her school prom. I saw her at Aylesbury station.”

In 2017, an al-Shabaab courier was accosted with 15 fake South African passports destined for extremists including Lewthwaite in Tanzania. Since then, there has been silence.

Terrorism experts are skeptical about claims of alleged sightings of the fugitive in Yemen, Syria, and even on Ukraine’s border with Russia. The Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Somalia, Omar Mahmood, said she is now unlikely to be active as an al-Shabaab jihadist.

Samantha was linked to scores of atrocities from 2012
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PA)

He added: “I find it difficult to believe she is out there operating at a high level of the organisation.

“It’s become increasingly insular. There’s definitely a degree of legend in her story. I haven’t seen anything over the past few years that would attest to her involvement, or her being around much.

“If she’s on good terms within the organization, then she could be living in one of the larger towns and villages that al-Shabaab occupies.

Samantha’s family have heard nothing from her
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Image:

Courtesy ofNetflix)

“It would be difficult for her to blend in and maintain some level of concealment for a long period, especially if she were moving about.

“Any sort of movement would definitely expose her to some risks.”

King’s College London radicalization expert Dr Gina Vale said she would expect Lewthwaite to be used as a PR asset if directly involved in al-Shabaab attacks.

School photo of Samantha standing right behind the teacher in 1996
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COPYRIGHT UNKNOWN)

The senior research fellow added: “Her whole identity, the way it’s been constructed, the link to Germaine Lindsay, the White Widow moniker, the fact she’s a Western Muslim convert, she’s white and a woman… all of these things put together make her a very lucrative propaganda tool, which hasn’t been exploited.

“And that’s what’s so fascinating about her case. She remains a great mystery. To have someone of her profile of her and to not use that more actively within propaganda is really unusual. I would have thought if she had been involved in perpetrating attacks, we would have heard more about it from the group itself.

“I think it would be very difficult for her to be a frontline operative, but that doesn’t deny that she could still have other supporting roles within attack planning or financing. These are ways for someone of her profile to contribute to attacks without actually taking part in them.

A photo of Samantha taken from her fake South African passport
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AFP/Getty Images)

Samantha holding baby daughter Surajah in 2010
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unknown)

After fleeing Britain, Lewthwaite was accused by Kenyan police in February 2012 of plotting terror attacks on tourist hotels in the country.

She had traveled there on a fraudulent passport, stealing the identity of a nurse, and co-ordinated an al-Shabaab cell from a safehouse in Mombasa which was raided. Lewthwaite also reportedly launched a rocket-propelled grenade at football supporters in a bar in coastal city.

The fate of her children, three of whom were born in Britain, is also shrouded in mystery.

Former soldier Andrew, who served in Northern Ireland, and his estranged wife Christine, know nothing of her youngest two, Abdur-Rahman, 13, and 11-year-old Surajah.

They were from a relationship with London-born terrorist Habib Saleh Ghani, believed to have been killed in an ambush Somalia in 2013.

Her children by Lindsay – Abdullah, 17, and 16-year-old Ruqayyah, born a month after the London bombings – have the middle names Shaheed and Shahidah. They are male and female forms of the word martyr.

Most of the Lewthwaite family still live in Aylesbury, but have no desire to talk about the terrorism allegations surrounding Samantha.

All four have lost their terrorist fathers, and have been raised as jihadis by a mother who has cut her ties with Aylesbury forever.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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