Video:Kenya police find White Widow’s Nairobi city hideout
Police have made a shocking discovery that the world’s most wanted woman terrorist, Samantha Lewthwaite, lived for almost one year in an apartment block overlooking a busy shopping mall on Ngong Road, Nairobi. Police, who were combing another house in Nyali, Mombasa, that the terrorist had rented at the same time, made a chance discovery from a video recording, of her other apartment in Nairobi where she apparently used to hide her four children.
Samantha, the ‘White Widow’, used her false South African alias, Natalie Faye Webb, while she rented the posh apartment, adjacent to the modern mall that British and Kenyan intelligence believe could also have been a target for the al Qaida-linked al Shabaab group, that attacked the Westgate mall one month ago.
Detectives examining the hard drive of a computer left at her house in Mombasa found several self-portraits of Samantha, including one where she posed with two of her children outside her Nairobi apartment. The picture led detective to identify the apartment block in which the ‘White Widow’ lived unsuspected by other upmarket residents who occupies houses in the area.
The apartment, whose picture The People took yesterday (but which cannot be used to avoid compromising investigations), is amidst a block of about 20 other apartments, for which Samantha used to pay Sh80,000 monthly rent. Police were digging to find out the exact time she entered and when she left, but details were scanty as she may have left before her lease expired, after having paid rent for several months.
Neighbours, some who lived there when she was there, have been questioned by police, but none remembers suspecting anything odd about the terrorist. The house she used to rent has since been taken up by other people, but detectives were yesterday planning to move them so that they could comb it for more clues. A man from the apartment block told detectives Samantha used to go shopping at the adjacent mall.
Sky News of UK also reported she would shop for up to four hours at the mall. Detectives have found out she was a loner, only getting visitors who are suspected to be terror recruits. Detectives now believe the Westgate attack may have been hatched in this apartment, before she moved to another unknown location in Nairobi.
Neighbours said she lived there with her four children, but would travel often, leaving them with house helps. Police also traced a flash disk which showed Samantha researching chemicals, explosive ingredients and how to make bombs. One document she had downloaded and saved in the disk is entitled ‘The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook’.
A source at the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) yesterday told The People detectives investigating the Wastgate mall attack were willing to entertain the idea that Samantha may still be around, hiding under disguise in another location. In Mombasa, she easily used to move about wearing the all-covering bui bui, worn by many Muslim women.
“This is an indication that we are headed in the right direction in our investigations and it could be just a matter of time before we crack circumstances surrounding the planning and execution of the Westgate attack,” said the ATPU officer who requested not to be named.
Examination of her hard disk showed she had also researched extensively on dieting and fitness sites, including websites on workout routines to help lose weight and makeover sites on how to change hair and facial appearance. Out of nearly 2,000 files found in the Mombasa house, a vast number were about health, body image and self-defence martial arts. Detectives also found a poem in praise of slain terrorism master Osama bin Laden in which she warned that al Qaeda was “stronger and fiercer” than ever.
In her poetry, she pledged to continue the fight to bring terror to the West and suggested she was prepared to be a martyr for the Jihad cause. The 29 year old Islam convert, widow of 2005 London tube bomber Germaine Lindsay, is the subject of an Interpol “red notice” warrant for her detention, issued at Kenya’s request after Islamist gunmen massacred at least 67 people at a Nairobi shopping mall last month.
The warrant relates to charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December, 2011. Meanwhile, post-mortem analysis which ended yesterday revealed that four bodies found at the Westgate mall debris could belong to the terrorists suspected to be involved in the siege.
Chief Government Pathologists Johasen Oduor was among few local pathologists involved in the autopsy with foreign forensic investigators, including FBI agents, at the City Mortuary. The foreign and local detectives are yet to compile a final probereport of the deadly attack that took place on September 21.
Elsewhere, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) General Julius Karangi insists that Kenya’s military officers did not loot during the Westgate mall rescue operation. Gen Karangi told joint parliamentary committees on National Security and Defence that soldiers only “picked water from the Nakumatt store to quench their thirst.”
The military chief who was accompanied by Defence Secretary Raychelle Omamo said: “the officers took water with authority from their commanders.” The Chief of Defence Forces was appearing before the committee only days after Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage made public, showed KDF officers entering the Nakumatt store and later walking out carrying paper bags.
More footage showed KDF officers seeming to be ransacking safes in stores at the mall, but General Karangi said they were undertaking a procedure he termed “sanitization to ensure their safety”. – The People