Samantha Lewthwaite’s secret life

2013-09-29 10:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

If she is alive, chances are she is preparing her children to follow in her footsteps.

She didn’t let the kids out of the house or allow them to play in the street with the neighbours’ children.

With her three children, Samantha Lewthwaite lived in Joburg on and off between 2008 and 2011, and, City Press has learnt, was here as recently as February.

The world has been gripped by the tale of how the mousy 29-year-old woman from the small English town of Aylesbury could be at the centre of the horrific attack by al-Shabaab on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre.

But just how involved she was remains unclear.

Kenyan police sources told London’s Daily Mirror newspaper that Lewthwaite was their investigation’s “target number one”.

Kenya’s foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said a British woman, who had been involved in terrorism “many times”, had been killed by soldiers.

Soldiers have also been reported as saying they saw a white woman in Islamic dress in the centre shouting orders to militants in Arabic.

Al-Shabaab took to Twitter this week to laud Lewthwaite, known to them by her Muslim name, Sherafiyah, and to her supporters in east Africa by her Swahili name, “dada mzungu” (white sister).

“Sherafiyah Lewthwaite aka Samantha is a vrave lady! were happier to have her in our ranks (sic),” the organisation’s press office tweeted this week during the four-day attack.

The group hinted in a number of subsequent tweets that Lewthwaite, whose father was an officer in the British army, was in charge of the operation and had safely left the mall after the first day of the siege.

But on Thursday, they tweeted: “(al-Shabaab) hereby categorically denies the involvement of any woman in Operation #LindaUislamu at #Westgate Mall.”

Operation LindaUislamu means “Protect Islam”.

If Lewthwaite is alive, she is preparing her children to follow in her footsteps.

In July last year, Kenyan police discovered a stash of Lewthwaite’s handwritten notes for a book she was writing, titled I Want To Be a Mujahid (holy warrior).

This was during a search on the last house she rented in the city of Mombasa.

Police alleged that a woman matching Lewthwaite’s description was seen near the Jericho Beer Garden in Mombasa shortly before a grenade attack in which three were killed and 25 injured while they were watching finals of the 2010 Fifa soccer World Cup.

The UK’s Mail on Sunday carried pictures of some of the passageswhich revealed that she wanted her son, Abdullah, and daughter, whose name is unknown, to become mujahideen.

“Recently, my beloved husband gave a talk to my eight-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. He asked them what do you want to be when you are older? Both had many answers but both agreed to one of wanting to be a mujahid,” she wrote.

The beloved husband she referred to was her second husband, former Londoner Habib Ghani (28), who was killed just over two weeks ago, reportedly in a clash between rival al-Shabaab factions.

The man whom she married in Mombasa is the father of her third and youngest child, son Abdur-Rahman Faheem Jamal, now about three years old.

British newspapers report that it is now believed Ghani’s death could have spurred Lewthwaite to push for the Westgate shopping centre attack.

In addition, the centre attack temporarily halted the trial in Mombasa of Lewthwaite’s flatmate and fellow Briton, Jermaine Grant (29), who was arrested in December 2011 and charged with possessing explosives and planning terror attacks.

Lewthwaite was charged in absentia in the case after showing police false passports for her and her children, later escaping with bags of money.

The explosives police found in the flat were similar to those used during the July 7 (7/7) 2005 London bombings.

In her notes found last year, Lewthwaite wrote about how she had prayed for a husband like Ghani.

“Allah?...?blessed me with the best husband for me. In fact, exactly what I asked for when I made du’a (prayer) before marriage,” she wrote.

“I asked for a man who would go forth, give all he could for Allah and live a life of terrorising the disbelievers as they have us. This is what I wanted and Allah gave me this and better.”

Lewthwaite’s first husband, Germaine Lindsay, wasa suicide bomber involved in the 7/7 bombings on the London underground in which 52 people were killed and more than 700 injured. She was seven months pregnant with their daughter at the time.

She has reportedly travelled between Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and as far as Pakistan in the past few years.

In the quiet Randburg suburb of Bromhof, north of Joburg, a picture emerged of Lewthwaite this week as a single mother of three children who kept to herself and drove an old white Mercedes-Benz.

“She did not live there for a long time. Nobody stays in that house for a long time anyway,” said a neighbour who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We only really met her when her son had run after her to the shops and she missed him on the way back and thought the child had gone missing.

“The domestic worker was searching for the child frantically. That’s the only incident that we can remember about her. Otherwise, she didn’t greet or talk to anybody on this street.”

Credit records showed that Lewthwaite lived in the predominantly Muslim suburb of Mayfair in Joburg, but nobody could remember seeing her there. It is also reported that she was employed as an

IT specialist at a halaal pie factory in Lenasia, south of Joburg.

Attempts to talk to her former employer, whom she used as a referee on her financial records’ applications, came to nothing.

Al-Shabaab’s tweets of horror

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.