At noon on Thursday (24 March), Kenyan anti-terrorism police officers arrested a woman and two men on Moi Avenue in Nairobi after a tip off from a members of the public who blocked the car the three were using as they waited for police to arrive.
Police sources have indicated that the members of the public suspected that the woman could be Samantha Lewthwaite, Kenya’s most wanted terrorism suspect, who is commonly known as ‘The White Widow’.
The three suspects were taken to Railways Police Station, where they were interrogated for two hours before being handed over to the ATPU.
Kirimi Ringera, Railways Police Station head, revealed that the woman claimed she had arrived in the country from the United States in order meet her two Facebook friends in Mandera. The three also said they had just arrived from the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and were preparing to head out to Tsavo National Park.
Lewthwaite, from Aylesbury in the UK, who has an Interpol Red Notice against her name, is believed to have been behind the Westgate Mall attack in 2013 which claimed the lives of more than 60 people, as well as other al-Shabaab attacks against Kenyan targets.
“We received calls from residents indicating that they suspected the woman was the White Widow. We could not take any chances.” – Directorate of Criminal Investigations officer
Kenya Has been on high alert since Wednesday following the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet said there was a need for every citizen to participate in security matters by reporting suspicious individuals and activities.
This isn’t the first time potential White Widow sightings have been reported to the authorities. In September 2014, the Interior ministry offered an American family a fully paid trip in compensation for the arrest of their 15-year-old daughter, who was “harassed” by police after being mistaken for Lewthwaite. More recently, last Boxing Day British police were alerted to what turned out to be a false alarm in Darlington.