(LYON, France) — Kenyan authorities Thursday stepped up the international manhunt for the so-called “White Widow,” Samantha Lewthwaite, by requesting INTERPOL issue a “Red Notice” alert for the British national.
Lewthwaite has been wanted by Kenyan authorities since late 2011 for her alleged link to al-Shabab terrorists, the same group that claimed to be responsible for the Nairobi mall attack earlier this week that claimed the lives of at least 61 civilians.
INTERPOL declined to comment on why the Red Notice was issued Thursday, just that it was requested by Kenyan authorities, and the notice itself makes no mention of the Nairobi massacre. Several media outlets have speculated about Lewthwaite’s potential connection to the attack following unverified reports that a woman was among the attackers.
“Through the INTERPOL Red Notice, Kenyan authorities have ensured that all 190 member countries are aware of the danger posed by this woman, not just across the region, but also worldwide,” INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble said.
Kenyan authorities said they believe Lewthwaite to travel under at least one alias, Natalie Faye Webb, a passport for whom the Kenyan police publicized in early 2012.
Lewthwaite, dubbed the White Widow by the English press, was married to Germaine Lindsay, one of the four bombers involved in the July 7, 2005 terrorist events, known as the 7/7 attacks, in London that killed 52 people and injured hundreds more, INTERPOL said. Days after the 7/7 attacks, Lewthwaite condemned her husband’s actions as “abhorrent,” according to the BBC.
“How these people could have turned him and poisoned his mind is dreadful,” she reportedly said then. “He was an innocent, naive and simple man. I suppose he must have been an ideal candidate.”
But then Lewthwaite disappeared, only to come back to the international stage when Kenyan authorities charged her with being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony in December 2011.
INTERPOL also announced Thursday that it has sent a team Wednesday to Kenya to assist in the investigation of the attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall and to “ensure the swift dissemination” of information the attackers to its member police forces around the world. Kenyan authorities have not yet identified the individual attackers and are investigating whether three Americans may have been involved. American authorities have said so far they have not seen evidence U.S. citizens took part, though al-Shabab is known to have a cadre of American recruits.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN