WHITE WIDOW Samantha Lewthwaite masterminded the Kenyan massacre to mark her suicide bomber husband’s birthday, authorities fear.
Investigators believe the date of the shooting spree last Saturday, September 21, may be significant.
Lewthwaite’s husband, Germaine Lindsay, who blew himself up on a packed Tube train near London’s King’s Cross station on July 7, 2005, would have been 28 just two days later on September 23.
Lewthwaite plotted the shooting spree at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi from a flat 100 yards away, according to reports.
One theory is that she earmarked the nearest Saturday to Lindsay’s birthday to unleash hell at the Western-style shopping centre, where Al Shabaab militants murdered more than 60 people, including six Britons. The latest twist comes as former friends of the 29-year-old spoke of their shock that the little girl who used to steal daffodils has become the world’s most wanted woman.
She grew up in a quiet terraced street near the centre of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, daughter of Andrew Lewthwaite, who served as a soldier in Northern Ireland, and Irish Catholic Christine Allen.
One neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, told how she sometimes got in trouble but only for minor matters.
She said: “I wouldn’t say Samantha was an angel but there was no hint of what she would later become.
“One trick that she used to do was to steal daffodils from a roundabout in town and then go door-to-door selling them. She was cheeky but never rude or abusive. When she got older she started to learn more about Islam and wore a burqa and a veil.
“I have no idea what sparked her interest in Islam but she was very friendly with a Muslim family nearby.”
That family was the Shahs who helped comfort her after her parents separated while she was still at school. She continued to live at the family home with her mother.
It was at the Shahs’ home where she had her first taste of Islam. Zahid Shah, 38, told the Sunday Express: “She would come here all the time because she was best friends with my sister.
“We are as shocked as anyone that she is a wanted terror suspect who is being linked with the shootings in Kenya. The Samantha I remember was a nice, polite young girl who saw me as a big brother. I have no idea at all how she became so radicalised, perhaps she was brainwashed. The Islam that my family and I believe in is a religion of peace.”
Lewthwaite left Aylesbury in 2008, setting up home in a mainly Muslim suburb of Johannesburg with her three children, two with Lindsay. She would use a stolen passport to slip in and out of South Africa.
In 2011 Kenyan police launched a hunt for her after charging her with being in possession of explosives.
Last week Interpol issued a “Red Notice”, an alert relating to those charges requiring the 190 member countries to detain the suspect pending extradition.
Although Lewthwaite has remained elusive, she is thought to have a Twitter account.
She is understood to have re-tweeted proclamations from British hate preacher Anjem Choudary.