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Did 'White Widow' attack Kenyan mall?
04:10 - Source: CNN

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NEW: Interpol issues a red notice -- an international wanted alert -- for Lewthwaite

Official: A woman may have been among attackers, but identity unknown

Lewthwaite was married to one of the bombers who attacked London in 2005

They say she became part of a terror cell linked to the Somali group Al-Shabaab

CNN  — 

British-born Samantha Lewthwaite was once seen as a kind of victim of the July 2005 London terror attacks – the pregnant wife of one of the suicide bombers who killed 52 people, now left alone to care for her children.

She condemned the attacks but then vanished. Now, Kenyan authorities say, she is the infamous “White Widow,” alleged to be a supporter and financier of people linked to the Somali terror group Al-Shabaab.

Reports that a white woman was among the terrorists who stormed Nairobi, Kenya’s, upscale Westgate Shopping Mall on Saturday – an operation for which Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility – have prompted a slew of media speculation that she might have been involved.

But no official confirmation has been given. A senior Kenyan government official said a woman was among the attackers. Yet it is “impossible,” based on the government’s photo evidence (and before a forensics examination is complete), to determine who that might be.

Attackers defeated in mall siege, Kenya’s president says

Interpol on Thursday issued a red notice – an international wanted alert – for Lewthwaite at Kenya’s request.

The public’s help could be crucial in finding the 29-year-old, believed to be using the alias “Natalie Webb,” the international police group said.

The notice activates “a global ‘tripwire’ for this fugitive,” Interpol Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble said in a prepared statement.

Lewthwaite “is wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011,” Interpol said.

A convert to Islam

Lewthwaite, born in Buckinghamshire, England, earned her nickname as the widow of Germaine Lindsay, one of the four suicide bombers who attacked London’s transportation system on July 7, 2005.

Now age 29, Lewthwaite met Lindsay, a British Muslim, when she was 17, according to the Daily Mail. A convert to Islam, she married him in 2002.

After the London attacks, she denied having knowledge of the plans. Later, Kenyan authorities said, she emerged in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa and became part of a terror cell linked to Al-Shabaab.

In December 2011, Kenyan authorities raided three homes in Mombasa, including one allegedly used by Lewthwaite, and arrested some people on suspicion of planning to destroy a bridge, a ferry and hotels frequented by Western tourists.

At Lewthwaite’s residence, investigators found the kind of bomb-making materials that were used in the London attacks, Kenyan counterterror police said. But Lewthwaite was not found.

A security guard who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity in 2012 said he saw a white woman leave the residence hours before the raid. Authorities have yet to catch up to her.

Kenyan authorities also suspect Lewthwaite of hatching a plot to break fellow Briton Jermaine Grant out of jail after he was arrested in connection with the alleged Mombasa plot.