White Widow ‘was married to former Kenya Navy officer’
Samantha Lewthwaite, the ‘White Widow’ being hunted on suspicion of leading the Nairobi mall massacre, is or was secretly married to a former officer in the Kenya Navy, a British newspaper said on Monday, quoting a confidential Scotland Yard file.
Her new husband is Mr Abdi Wahid, whom the paper said is currently in Europe and freely moves around.
According to the Daily Mail, the dossier throws new light on the life of the mother of four who converted to Islam as a schoolgirl and is now the world’s most wanted woman.
However, Inspector General David Kimaiyo said they were not aware that the “White Widow” was married to a former Navy soldier.
“I’m hearing about it for the first time. All we know is that she was living with someone in Mombasa who was charged in court and therefore we are not aware of any other person of interest,” Mr Kimaiyo said.
Her first husband, Jermaine Lindsay, blew himself up in a suicide bombing in Britain in July 2007.
She came to Africa in 2009 and had been on the run for nearly two years.
The latest developments emerged as MPs promised to use their powers to overhaul the security system, including closure of refugee camps and removal of non-performing security chiefs.
As the two National Assembly committees on Defence and Security start to grill security chiefs beginning today, they promised to get to the bottom of the terrorist attack at Westgate, including performance of security teams investigating the incident amid claims of laxity and looting.
“We want to know the truth about what happened at the Westgate, including the history, the actors and the failures,” said Defence and Foreign Relations Committee chairman Ndung’u Gethenji.
Wahid was arrested in 2011 when police discovered that his house in Mombasa had been turned into a potential bomb factory by Lewthwaite and her associates. He was never charged.
He was previously identified as her landlord, the paper reported, noting that it was not clear how much he knew about his wife’s terrorist activities.
But yesterday, Al-Shabaab insisted yesterday that no woman joined them in an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, dismissing speculation that the ‘White Widow’ took part in the massacre.
“We once again openly declare that no woman was involved at Westgate,” Al-Shabaab said on Twitter, reiterating it had a policy of “not employing sisters for such missions”.
Meanwhile, reports from Somalia said a controversial Muslim cleric was arrested yesterday in connection with the Westgate attack in Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.
Mohamoud Abdullahi Ghelle was arrested for supporting the attack in which 67 people were killed and more than 175 others were killed.
The Daily Mail says that Wahid’s relationship with Lewthwaite “has baffled detectives, given his military background and because he once worked as a private security officer in Afghanistan, guarding westerners against attack from the Taliban”.
Lewthwaite’s two elder children, nine-year-old Abdullah and Ruqayyah, eight, both by Lindsay, have the middle names Shaheed and Shahidah, respectively, which means “martyr” in the male and female form, according to the police data, the Daily Mail reported.
She has two younger children, according to the paper — four-year-old Abdur-Rahman and Surajah, three, whose father could be another British Al-Shabaab recruit, Hounslow-born Habib Saleh Ghani, 28, killed in Somalia last month.
On Monday, the Kenya Red Cross reported that the number of people missing after the Westgate attack had dropped to 39, from last week’s 60.
Secretary-general Abbas Gullet said 14 among those reported missing had been found alive and discharged from various hospitals, while seven were confirmed dead.
Metropolitan Development Secretary John Maina said yesterday closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been mounted in a number of public places in efforts to beef up security in the country.
“Some 42 cameras have been mounted at roundabouts, bus stations, market areas and major crime spots in Nairobi,” Mr Maina said.