Interpol issues alert for ‘White Widow’ stemming from 2011 Kenyan incident

Updated 11:00 PM EDT, Thu September 26, 2013
04:10 - Source: CNN
Did 'White Widow' attack Kenyan mall?

Story highlights

NEW: Witnesses say a woman was among the Kenya mall attackers

Interpol asks for help finding Samantha Lewthwaite, dubbed the "White Widow"

Interpol says the notice relates to 2011 explosives charges

Witnesses say they saw an unidentified woman among the Nairobi attackers

CNN —  

Interpol said Thursday it issued a “red notice” for Samantha Lewthwaite, the so-called “White Widow,” at the request of Kenyan authorities, but the international police agency added that the notice dealt with a 2011 incident.

Reports that a white woman was among the terrorists who stormed a mall in Nairobi last weekend have prompted a slew of media speculation about Lewthwaite, a British woman whose husband was one of the suicide bombers in the 2005 London terror attacks.

READ: Dozens of families unsure if loved ones are dead or alive

Known as the “White Widow,” Lewthwaite, 29, has been wanted by international counterterrorism officials since authorities found bomb-making materials in her Mombasa, Kenya, apartment in 2011. She vanished shortly before a raid.

The red notice is for charges related to the explosives, not the Westgate Mall attack, Interpol said.

Red notices issued by Interpol alert law enforcement around the world that a person is wanted, but they are not international arrest warrants.

“By requesting an Interpol Red Notice, Kenya has activated a global ‘tripwire’ for this fugitive,” said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

“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,” he said.

Witnesses said they saw a female militant inside the mall during the attack.

And a senior Kenyan official confirmed Tuesday that a woman was involved. Yet another official said Wednesday that authorities can’t say much about who the woman was or what she was doing.

Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed the Westgate mall Saturday.

At least 67 people were killed and as many as 63 people are still unaccounted for.

READ: Questions linger after Kenya mall attack