- CIA joins man-hunt to stop 'British extremist' Samantha Lewthwaite
- Suspect escaped dramatic raid with bomb fuses and U.S. banknotes - and is now on the loose
- The widow of 7/7/ bomber is 'linked to groups planning attacks on UK soil'
- Her distraught father begs her to come home
The CIA has joined an international man-hunt to find the convert widow of a 7/7 bomber, who is believed to be on the run with more than 500 bomb fuses and bundles of U.S. cash following a raid on an Al Qaeda gang plotting a terrorist attack in Kenya.
Fugitive Samantha Lewthwaite - once a fresh-faced school girl in Aylesbury - is thought to be travelling with a variety of aliases after dramatically escaping capture as anti-terrorist police foiled a bomb plot on a packed shopping mall in the African coastal town of Mombasa.
The gang is believed to be planning more '7/7'-style attacks in Britain, and police are urgently tracking the 28-year-old, who is believed to have links to al-Qaeda as well as extremists in the UK.
Lewthwaite was in an arranged marriage with Jermaine Lindsay, the King Cross bomber who blew himself in the 2005 terror attack near Russell Square, which cost 26 people their lives.
The international man-hunt is focusing on the woman who escaped from an extraordinary raid in December.
She is carrying a passport in the name of Samantha Lewthwaite, and police in both Kenya and Britain 'strongly suspect' she is the 7/7 terrorist's widow, rather than another woman using Lewthwaite's details.
Police say their suspect has used a passport with a photo bearing a striking resemblance to the 28-year-old Muslim convert but with the name of a South African-born nurse, Natalie Faye Webb, 26, from Essex.
Following the 7/7 bombings, Lewthwaite described her husband's actions as 'abhorrent', and her family are adamant she is not involved in terrorist activities.There are fears that up to 50 British Islamic militants are receiving terrorist training in Kenya and neighbouring Somalia, described by experts as a 'destination of choice' for would-be terrorists. Her father Andy, 56, a builder and former soldier, has begged his daughter to come home, saying 'Samantha would not be involved in anything to do with terrorism.
'She was badly affected by what happened before and would have nothing to do with it. I am sure of that.'
However the CIA, Scotland Yard and anti-terror forces around the world are treating her capture as a huge priority. Sources say she is 'no small fish' in terrorist circles, describing her role as a 'financier'.
Another Londoner, Jermaine Grant, was captured during the Mombasa raid on December 19, but Lewthwaite fled the scene with a laptop and the bomb parts.
Her escape was described as so extraordinary, that police are holding an internal probe to see if she had 'inside' help.
Kenyan police say the woman they are hunting fled the gang’s hideout before they raided the house, where more than 60 rounds of AK47 ammunition and other weapons were discovered.
Grant, 29, of Newham, East London, was arrested. He has been charged with possessing bomb-making equipment and conspiring to cause an explosion and is due to go on trial in May over what sources call a ‘serious’ terrorist plot.
Police are also searching for terror suspect Habib Ghani, 26, from Hounslow, West London, who is understood to have fled with the woman and her children.
The dramatic disclosure came after a briefing from officials in Nairobi, who believe the woman may still be in Kenya.
Police spokesman Erick Kiraithe said: ‘We know quite a bit about her now. She had three identities in the past and that [Samantha Lewthwaite] is one possible identity. Our expectation is that our counter-terror team should be able to locate her soon.’
Police say they will not confirm the woman they are searching for is Miss Lewthwaite until she is captured because it is possible her identity could have been stolen.
Yesterday Miss Lewthwaite’s family, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, said they have not seen her ‘for years’ but believed she was in South Africa.
Her uncle Nigel Lewthwaite, 51, said he understood she had married again, to another Muslim man.
He said: ‘Her father only found out that she’d had another child when she left this country. He just isn’t in contact with her. I don’t know anybody in her family who is.
‘Her father thought she was in South Africa, but we don’t know. We don’t even know when she left the country. Apparently she’s married another Muslim man and her father thought she was in South Africa.'
Miss Lewthwaite converted to Islam at the age of 15 and married unemployed carpet fitter Lindsay in 2002.
Three years later, while she was seven months pregnant with their second child, Jamaican-born Lindsay detonated his rucksack bomb on a Piccadilly Line train, killing 26 of the 52 who died in the July 7 bombings.
She later issued the statement saying the attacks were ‘abhorrent’.
The Metropolitan Police has sent a team to the Kenyan capital to assist in the hunt, which comes amid mounting concern over the number of British extremists going to Kenya and Somalia, which officials now regard as the ‘destination of choice’ for would-be terrorists.
There are fears some militants could return to carry out attacks in the UK after receiving training in Somalia from the Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebel group.
"As a teenage Home Counties schoolgirl, Samantha Lewthwaite wore make-up and pretty dresses and went to parties with her friends.But by the time she was 17, the soldier’s daughter had converted to Islam, was covering her hair in a hijab, changed her name to Asmantara, and was readying herself to marry the man who would go on to take part in the 7/7 attacks.
The youngest of three children, Miss Lewthwaite was born in Banbridge, County Down, in 1983 to Christine and soldier Andrew, who was serving in Northern Ireland.
Her parents moved to Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, but separated when she was 11. Friends say she sought comfort in Islam after being badly affected by the split.
After learning about the Muslim faith in religious studies lessons at school, the teenager told friends she was converting. Within two years, she was wearing the jilbab, the long gown that covers everything but the hands and face.
While studying for a degree in religion and politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London she met Jamaican-born Jermaine Lindsay, a fellow Muslim convert, through an Islamic chatroom. In October 2002 they married in an Islamic ceremony in Aylesbury.
In 2004 their first son was born, which is when she says her husband first started to spend time at radical mosques in London, Luton and Yorkshire. She has said she believes his mind was poisoned by these visits because before this he had been a ‘peaceful man’."
In: World News
Tags: CIA, Terrorist, 7/7 bombings, suicide bomber, shahid, jihad, UK, Kenya, London
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States (load item map)
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