Monday, October 01, 2012
The search for Lewthwaite is hampered by the fact that as a Muslim, she wears an Islamic robe and full face-covering. On the right possible picture of Samantha Lewthwaite in hijab
Al-Shabaab has taunted Western intelligence tracking Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of one of the 7/7 bombers, that officials should study the Thomas Crown Affair movie for clues on how she evades capture.
The Muslim Youth Centre, known for its links to Somalia's al-Qaeda-allied jihadist army, tweeted that "kuffar" – non-Muslims – "want to catch you (Lewthwaite) I don't think so".
"[Sister] they r luking [sic] 4 you. If only they watch the Thomas Crown Affair," the poster continued in a series of new notes on the MYC's Twitter page.
In the 1999 film starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, an art thief returns a stolen Monet to a New York gallery under the noses of police, by disguising himself among dozens of other men wearing the same suits and bowler hats.
Security sources have repeatedly complained that the search for Lewthwaite is hampered by the fact that as a Muslim, she wears an Islamic robe and full face-covering.
This means she can "hide in plain sight" among similarly attired women.
The guise makes it nearly impossible for her to be identified among the hundreds of thousands of other women in East Africa's majority-Muslim coastal areas, or in Somalia.
Details about Lewthwaite have appeared in the past on the MYC's account, and its linked website has featured poems and blogs allegedly written by the soldier's daughter from Aylesbury.
The MYC tweeter went on to say that Lewthwaite was planning a journey and would be in contact with "that sister" from "Lutown" [sic].
The tweeter later denied this would mean Lewthwaite would be returning to Britain where "all the MI5 waiting 4 her".
"She will continue Hijra in East Africa, insh'allah", he added, meaning that Lewthwaite would continue moving in East Africa.
Germaine Lindsay, Lewthwaite's husband, killed 27 people including himself in a Tube train beneath Kings Cross station during the 7/7 bombings.
His widow later vanished and reappeared late last year in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, where she has been charged with preparing bombs police believe would be used on Western targets including beach hotels.
Lewthwaite has been on the run since December and has not been seen since, despite an international manhunt involving Scotland Yard, Interpol and police forces from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.
But reports in a Nairobi newspaper yesterday claimed that she was spotted as recently as two months ago living Garissa, a town 240 miles east of Nairobi close to Kenya's border with Somalia.
Several eye-witnesses in an upmarket suburb of the majority-muslim town, which has been hit by a series of terrorist attacks this year, identified the 29-year-old from photographs shown to them by reporters.
They said that a "white woman" with "three children" had been living in a house in the town's Bula Mzuri area during May, June and July.
These reports directly contradict repeated assertions from Kenya's anti-terror police and its government spokesman that Lewthwaite fled the country for Tanzania or Somalia late last year or early this year.
One elderly woman in Garissa, who was not identified, told Kenya's Daily Nation that "nobody comes out of the house during the day and the gate is always closed. I have only met her on a few occasions".
Reporters spoke to two women who on three or four occasions cleaned clothes for the woman they identified as Lewthwaite.
She was said to be living in brick-built bungalow behind high walls in a compound with one other house.
Local police sources said that the building may be owned by Hassan al-Turki, an Islamist commander now believed to be fighting in Somalia with al-Shabaab.
A spokesman for Kenya's Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) told The Daily Telegraph that his officers raided the property most recently in June and found no-one living in the bungalow.
"There is no evidence that she is there, these reports I have read in the newspaper are just speculation from unreliable witnesses," said Elijah Rop, a second senior ATPU officer in Mombasa.
"The information that we have, and it is the same information we have had for a long time, is that this lady is no longer in Kenya."
Western diplomatic sources in Nairobi concurred, with one saying that "the working assumption" is that Lewthwaite was in Somalia or possibly Tanzania.