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A fingerprint match confirms that Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of 7/7 suicide bomber Jermaine Lindsay, is the woman wanted for questioning by Kenyan police for suspected involvement in terrorism.
Last seen crossing the Tanzanian border in a striped headscarf in August last year – an image released by the police yesterday – she is known locally as the “white widow” and travels with her three children.
“We are confident we are looking for the white widow,” a Kenyan police chief told The Daily Mail anonymously. “Samantha Lewthwaite’s fingerprints have been confirmed by detectives we have been working with from the UK. This woman is still in the country. She will not escape if she passes through exit points at the border because of her fingerprints.”
Kenyan police have been looking for her for the last week after discovering bomb-making equipment and explosives at a house in Mombasa where it is believed Lewthwaite lived. She is thought to be a key suspect in a terrorist cell linked to al-Shabaab that was planning attacks on popular tourist locations in Nairobi.
Al-Shabaab – a Somali-based group that aims to establish an Islamist state in the country using both military and political tactics – has a growing influence in the West. Since the group’s loose alignment with al-Qaeda in 2007 (formalised last month when it became an official franchise), Somalia has become another base for British militants. In September 2009, it was reported that the numbers going to fight or attend terrorist training there, “has more than quadrupled to at least 100 since 2004”.
Al-Shabaab was proscribed by the Home Office in March 2010 and six months later the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans said that a “significant number of UK residents” were training with the group. “It’s only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside al-Shabaab”, he warned.