Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News - 2013-09-26
The name Samantha Lewthwaite, Natalie Faye Webb or the White Widow has in recent days been purged on about everybody’s lips throughout the world.
The “White Widow” as she is commonly known has also made headlines in South Africa, where it is reported that she was employed as an IT Specialist for a halaal pie factory in Lenasia.
But who is she? Where is she from and why is she so suddenly "famous"?
The daughter of a British Army soldier Andrew Lewthwaite, Samantha Louise was born in Bainbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland on 5 December 1983.
She was still at primary school when her family moved from her birthplace in Northern Ireland to Buckinghamshire. Her parents Andrew and Elizabeth Christine split in 1995.
Shattered by the divorce of her parents, at age 17 Samantha reverted to Islam (taking on the Muslim name Sherafiyah) after spending time with Muslim neighbours and reportedly finding comfort in their Islamic values.
Samantha's interest in religion developed when she enrolled to study towards a degree in religion and politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in Russell Square, London. There she met Jamaican-born Muslim revert Germaine Lindsay through an Islamic internet chatroom in 2002 and they married a few months later in Aylesbury.
A nikah (Islamic marriage ceremony) was conducted for the couple but the ceremony had no legal status because it was not conducted in a masjid or licensed place and they were never officially registered as man and wife. Her parents, who "never came to terms with their daughter's conversion", refused to attend the ceremony.
They lived in Lindsay’s home town of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, but moved back to Aylesbury in September 2003. Six months later, their first child, a boy, was born.
Three years later, on 7 July 2005, Lindsay carried out a suicide bomb attack on a London underground train. The aftermath of the attack left 52 people dead.
Pregnant with their second child, a daughter, Samantha denied all knowledge of the attack and publicly condemned her husband. After being quizzed over the London suicide attacks, the White Widow returned to her family, who were convinced of her innocence.
Andrew together with Samantha’s older brother Allan and younger sister Sabrina, condemned the bombings, but they were shocked about “loving husband” and “brilliant father” Lindsay’s role.
Samantha vanished soon after her third child was fathered by Habib Ghani, of Hounslow, West London, in 2009. Ghani was shot dead in Somalia two weeks ago in what was understood to be a row between al-Shabaab factions.
It is thought this could have spurred a grieving Samantha to urge terror chiefs to push ahead with the Kenya atrocity.
Samantha was named as a possible suspect involved in the September 2013 attack claimed by Al-Shabaab on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. As of 24 September, there was media speculation that she was one of the dead. These reports were viewed with caution by UK government officials.
There was no confirmation of Samantha's involvement as an attacker, organiser or fundraiser. Al-Shabaab issued a statement on 24 September saying no women were involved in the attack.
Early reports suggested that witnesses had claimed a white woman shouted orders in Arabic; however questions were raised as to why she would be speaking Arabic to Somalians, some of whom spoke English.
Now Andrew with Samantha's mum Christine Allen, have to come to terms with how their happy little girl became apparently capable of slaughtering children.
While the family have refused to speak out, the strain on them became clear when Samantha’s grandmother Elizabeth Allen, of Bainbridge, County Down, was admitted to hospital because of heart problems.
Neighbours recall the White Widow as a different person. Raj Khan, an Aylesbury councillor, said: “I knew her when she was a child. She was very innocent, lacking -confidence, shy and very easy to get on with. She was a follower not a leader.”
“That’s why I find it absolutely amazing that she is supposed to be the head of an international criminal terrorist organization,” said Khan.
With Interpol issuing a “Red Notice” (international arrest warrant) for the British terror suspect, the White Widow has now become the world's most wanted woman.