Interpol issues a “red notice” – the global policing equivalent of a “wanted poster” – for Samantha Lewthwaite, the so-called “white widow”, at the request of the Kenyan government.
The notice has been issued just two days after the end of the Westgate shopping centre siege, which it has been speculated that Lewthwaite, the former wife of 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay, was involved in.
Interpol’s arrest notice is circulated to 190 member countries, and is “one of Interpol’s most powerful tools in tracking international fugitives.”
“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.”
Read more: Who is Samantha Lewthwaite?
Lewthwaite, 29, was named as having possibly been involved in the Westgate mall attack after it was said that a British woman was amongst the 10 to 15 terrorists that attacked the centre.
She is believed to be a member of al-Shabaab, and has been linked to a plot to bomb hotels and restaurants in tourist areas on Kenya’s coast.
In March, it was reported that she had been living in a house in Mombasa. When the house was later raided by police it was found to contain an “arsenal of bomb-making materials”.
One British official said it was a “possibility” that UK national Lewthwaite was involved. Kenyan officials have said they cannot yet confirm if she directly participated in the attack.
Sher is also understood to use the alias Natalie Webb (see passport, below).
However, the red notice does not mention the Westgate attack. It says Lewthwaite is “wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011.”
Lewthwaite was previously only wanted at a national level for alleged possession of a fraudulently obtained South African passport. General Noble said Lewthwaite’s case underlined the “invisible threat” posed by terrorists and criminals travelling using illicit passports.
“Until this glaring hole in global security is properly addressed, no country in the world can consider itself safe from terrorists and other criminals crossing borders to harm their citizens and visitors,” he said.
Interpol has also deployed a team, led by Executive Director for Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin, to help with the forensic analysis of the Westgate attack.
“Interpol’s role is to help coordinate the international response in support of the Kenyan authorities as they investigate this horrific incident, and to assist their actions at the regional and international levels,” said Mr Louboutin.
“Whether it be through comparison of information against Interpol’s global databases, or the issuance of a notice to identify a victim, locate a wanted person, or seek additional information about suspects, we will offer all necessary assistance to help bring those responsible to justice.”
The Interpol Red Notice contains identification details and judicial information about a wanted person, and communicate to police worldwide that a person is wanted by a member country and request that the suspect be placed under provisional arrest pending extradition.