THE infamous “White Widow” is recruiting female suicide bombers in Yemen after fleeing international police on an Arab sailboat.
By MARCO GIANNANGELI
Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, whose first husband Germaine Lindsay was one the four 7/7 suicide bombers in London, hid on a dhow to escape from Somalia to Aden as intelligence agencies closed in on her following a string of terrorist attacks.
The revelation puts final pay to claims that she was shot by a Russian sniper in the Ukraine last year.
Though Lewthwaite remains one of Britain’s most wanted terrorists, and is still being sought by British and US intelligence services, Interpol and Kenya, efforts to track and strike her secret base are being hampered by the civil war raging through Yemen.
Far from being a “terror mastermind”, however, the 30-year-old now works as a low-level recruiter with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), targeting young Yemeni women to ‘martyr’ themselves as suicide bombers in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Sources say she has gained 30 lbs in weight and has “suffered from poor health” in the past year, but her social knowledge of the UK and her English language makes her a highly valuable asset to both Al Shabaab and AQAB.
She operates with a small Internet team who use the so-called ‘dark net’ to promote the vision of Islam to young girls in a bid to spearhead a new wave of suicide bombers who can deliver carnage to the streets of Kenya.
The threat, provoked by anger at Kenya’s decision to send troops to Somalia to contain the Al Shabaab threat there, has left Nairobi and Mombasa in constant fear of another “Westgate-style” attack.
Last week a young girl was detained at Mombasa’s Memorial Cathedral after worshippers saw her sending texts during a service and feared she was a bomber – police later released her.
Lewthwaite is said to be living with her new husband, Fahmi Jamal Salim, and their four children – two of them by Salim.
We now know Lewthwaite escaped on a dhow to Aden
She had pledged to raise all her children as Jihadis.
Salim, connected to al Qaeda, is also being sought in connection with the shooting of two Kenyan policemen in Nairobi in 2011.
Confirming the “sinister link” link between the two extremist groups, intelligence sources revealed that one of two Al Shabaab targets hit in a US-led drone strike in June 2014, had ‘direct links’ to Anwar al Awlaki – the Yemeni-based radical cleric who is a key AQAP figure and whose primary focus is on attacking western communities.
Yemen is on track to become a failed state, as civil war threatens to tear the nation apart. In February, the British Embassy evacuated its staff, with a small force of US Special Forces leaving days later.
In the meantime, it has become a haven for a host of high value targets sought by American intelligence forces over the last four months.
Lewthwaite was reported to have been killed in the Ukraine last October. However, sources now believe she was inspired by
British militant Imran Khawaja to orchestrate false reports about her own death to end the manhunt to capture her.
Khawaja, 27, from Southall, West London, faked his own death in Syria in a bid to give himself a ‘clean skin’ and return to Britain undetected.
The rouse failed because he was being monitored by intelligence operatives, and he was arrested and later jailed.
Speaking last, night a senior intelligence source told the Sunday Express: “We now know that she escaped from Somalia on a dhow, and arrived in Aden before travelling into Yemen.
“She is very adept, by now, at covering her tracks and the current situation in Yemen certainly presents operational challenges for all intelligence agencies.
“The link between Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is very concerning. We are aware of it and are monitoring this situation closely.”