MOMBASA, Kenya, Sept 4 – A Mombasa court on Friday said prosecutors should close their case against British terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite, dubbed the “White Widow”, after failing to produce her in court.
Lewthwaite is accused of possessing explosives and planning terrorist attacks on Kenya’s tourist coast, but police have been unable to find her since she gave them the slip in 2012.
The trial of her alleged accomplice, fellow Briton Jermaine Grant, is ongoing in Mombasa.
“This case is just like any other case, and if the suspect cannot be found, then the case should be closed,” said Mombasa chief magistrate Julius Nang’ea.
Kenya issued an arrest warrant for Lewthwaite in 2012 and then requested Interpol to issue a “Red Notice” in 2013.
On Friday, state prosecutor Nicholas Kitonga pleaded that police needed more time to find their suspect, whose whereabouts are unknown.
Lewthwaite, 31, from Aylesbury in England, is a Muslim convert who was married to Germaine Lindsay — one of four suicide bombers who attacked the London transport network on July 7, 2005, killing 52 people — leading a British tabloid newspaper to dub her the ‘White Widow’ years later.
She has since been romantically linked to a string of jihadists and, since evading arrest during a botched police raid in Mombasa in 2011, has been on the run with her four children.
Over the years media reports have had Lewthwaite training a company of female suicide bombers for Islamic State, masterminding a series terror attacks in Kenya, Somalia and Nigeria and being killed by a sniper in eastern Ukraine. Kenya’s foreign minister accused her of directing the 2013 assault on Nairobi’s Westgate mall.
While the media — especially the British tabloid press — is quick to attribute terror attacks in the region to Lewthwaite, Western intelligence agencies do not regard her as a serious threat.