A white woman suspected of being among Islamic terrorists killed by soldiers as they stormed the mall where 62 shoppers was born in Northern Ireland, Belfast Daily can reveal.
Samantha Lewthwaite – dubbed the ‘White Widow’ – is the daughter of Northern Ireland woman who married a squaddie while he was touring the province with the British Army.
The 28-year-old was born in Northern Ireland in 1985 to parents Christine and Andrew Lewthwaite.
Her mum grew up in Banbridge where she met Andrew Lewthwaite while he was on a two-year our of duty.
When his tour of duty finished, the Lewthwaites moved to the Home Counties in England.
Her father returned to work in Northern Ireland in the early 1990s as a lorry driver while the family resettled in Aylesbury.
However, Mr Braithwaite and his wife split in 1995.
A source told Belfast Daily: “Samantha’s granny still lives in Banbridge. She has been very ill for some time.”
Unconfirmed reports in Kenya on Monday night , made by three sources to news agency Reuters, said a white woman was among the Islamist terrorists who had been killed when Kenya forces stormed the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi.
It will fuel speculation that the dead woman is Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of 7/7 bomber Jermaine Lindsay, who is wanted by Kenyan police on a string of terror charges.
Police will also investigate the possibility that she is a hostage dressed in one of the terrorist’s clothes.
Asked if it was Lewthwaite, dubbed the ‘White Widow’, an intelligence officer said: ‘We don’t know.’
Moments after the news broke, Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affiliated terror group behind the massacre at Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Centre, used their Twitter feed to claim that Lewthwaite was safe.
Kenyan security forces say they are in the final stages of clearing the Westgate shopping complex in Nairobi, and ending the deadly three-day siege.
Explosions and heavy gunfire were reported earlier as soldiers stormed the mall, where suspected al-Shabab militants are thought to be holed up.
The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) said three “terrorists” had been killed and all escape routes sealed off.
Flames and thick smoke continued to rise from the complex as darkness fell.
The KDF said the fire had been started by “terrorists to distract the ongoing operation”, and that the blaze was being managed by firefighters.
The official death toll stands at 62 and more than 170 have been injured. There are fears the death toll will rise further.
UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that his best estimate was that six Britons had been killed.
The Somali Islamist al-Shabab movement has said it carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan military operations in Somalia.
“The terrorists could be running and hiding in some stores, but all floors now are under our control,” Kenyan Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said.
“There is no room for escape.”