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Interpol Issues Alert For 'White Widow' At Kenya's Request

Samantha Lewthwaite in a photo released Thursday by Interpol.
Samantha Lewthwaite in a photo released Thursday by Interpol.

Interpol, the international police organization, has issued a "red notice" for British national Samantha Lewthwaite, the "white widow" who some news accounts have linked to last weekend's deadly attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

Interestingly, the request to Interpol from Kenyan authorities does not say Lewthwaite is wanted because of any connection to the mall attack. Instead, according to Interpol:

"Lewthwaite, aged 29, who is also believed to use the alias 'Natalie Webb,' is wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011."

So it can't be said that authorities are acting on reports from some witnesses that a "white woman" was among the mall attackers and that it might have been Lewthwaite.

As the BBC writes, "Lewthwaite was first thrust into the spotlight after the 7 July bombings in London in 2005, as the widow of bomber Germaine Lindsay, who killed 26 people when he blew up a Piccadilly Line Tube train near King's Cross. A Muslim convert dubbed the "White Widow" by much of the media, she has no terrorism record in the UK but is currently on the run from Kenyan Police over alleged links to a terrorist cell that planned to bomb the country's coast."

The "red notice" means 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 K. Noble said in a statement issued by the organization. Those countries should now be on the lookout for her.

The news about the Interpol alert tops the developments on the story so far today. Some of Thursday's other headlines:

-- "Kenya mall attack: dozens more bodies believed buried under rubble." (The Guardian)

-- "Dozens of families unsure if loved ones are dead or alive." (

-- "Two Kenyan police killed in attack in northeast county." (Reuters)

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.