British police are trying to obtain DNA samples from the family of the so-called "White Widow," wanted fugitive Samantha Lewthwaite, to see if there is a match with any of the bodies found in the rubble of the Westgate terror attack in Kenya, U.S. authorities told ABC News today.
Lewthwaite has been sought by Kenyan authorities since late 2011 for her alleged link to al-Shabab terrorists, the same group that claimed to be responsible for assaulting the Westgate for days earlier this week, killing at least 61 civilians. Several media outlets have speculated about Lewthwaite's potential connection to the attack following unverified reports that a woman was among the attackers.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tuesday that five terrorists were killed in the Kenyan military's operation to retake the mall and another 11 were captured. The identities of the attackers have not been released.
Earlier today INTERPOL announced the Kenyan government had requested a law enforcement "Red Notice" alert go out around the world to help track down Lewthwaite. INTERPOL declined to comment on why the Red Notice was issued today, and the notice itself makes no mention of the Nairobi massacre.
"Through the INTERPOL Red Notice, Kenyan authorities have ensured that all 190 member countries are aware of the danger posed by this woman, not just across the region, but also worldwide," INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble said.
Who Is the 'White Widow'?
Lewthwaite was born in a small village outside London and over 15-years-time went from school girl to party girl to the wife of Germaine Lindsay, one of the terrorists that carried out the 2005 7/7 bombings in London. Fifty-two people were killed and hundreds more were injured in that tragedy.
Immediately after those attacks, Lewthwaite, mother of two, denied any knowledge of her husband's al Qaeda ties and condemned her husband's actions as "abhorrent," according to the BBC.
"How these people could have turned him and poisoned his mind is dreadful," she reportedly said then. "He was an innocent, naive and simple man. I suppose he must have been an ideal candidate."
But then at some point Lewthwaite slipped out of England and allegedly joined up with African extremists, traveling to Kenya on a forged South African passport under the name Natalie Faye Webb. She would later be dubbed the "White Widow" by British tabloids and she reportedly wrote in diaries that she wanted her young children to grow up as terrorists and die like their father.
In late 2011 Kenyan authorities charged her with possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony in connection with another al-Shabab plot.
Rafaello Pantucci, a counter-terrorism expert and senior research fellow at London's Royal United Services Institute, said it was clear Lewthwaite "was a figure of some importance within the organization, at an organizational level."
Still, Raj Khan, an acquaintance of Lewthwaite's who last saw her when she was with her husband just days before the 7/7 attacks, told ABC News he couldn't imagine she would be involved in the Nairobi massacre.