Here's Everything 'World's Most Wanted' Fans Should Know About The White Widow
The list of five fugitives in Netflix's new World's Most Wanted series skews heavily male and old. Drug lords, mob bosses, men who made long term careers in organized crime, or participated in genocide. But then there's Samantha Lewthwaite. The youngest on the list by a good decade, the murderer known as "The White Widow" is also the only woman to make the cut. But what's the White Widow doing now? As of Aug. 6, 2020, she remains at large.
Warning: Spoilers for World's Most Wanted follow. Born in Northern Ireland in 1983, Lewthwaite was the daughter of a retired British Army soldier. She spent a relatively normal childhood growing up in the UK. Her parents broke up when she was a teen, and according to family and friends, she took their split hard, turning away from the Catholic church in which she has been raised, and looking to Islam, viewing it as a path for creating stronger family bonds.
By 17, she had fully converted, changing her name to Sherafiyah. She then met and married Germaine Lindsay, a Jamaican immigrant raised in Aylesbury. He also converted to Islam as a teenager and changed his name to Abdullah Shaheed Jamal.
If the name Germaine Lindsay or Abdullah Shaheed Jamal sound familiar, they should. He was one of the four bombers behind the 7/7 attacks in London in 2005. At the time of the bombing, Lewthwaite insisted he'd cut all ties with their family, and said she'd known nothing of his plans.
But by 2013, things had changed. Lewthwaite quietly disappeared and didn't speak with her family. After a grenade attack on a bar in Mombasa, Kenya, reports came in of a woman being part of the group who planned it. After the 2013 Nairobi mall attack, someone matching Lewthwaite's description was identified as one of those involved. Within a few weeks, Interpol issued an arrest warrant.
In 2015, Somali security officials went public with the belief that Lewthwaite was allegedly the mastermind behind over 400 deaths, most of which were reportedly carried out on her orders by al-Shabab fighters. But by then, it was no longer certain if she was even alive. A Russian news agency claimed she was one of those killed by snipers in 2014.
Lewthwaite has not been seen in years, though no one is sure if that's because she's dead or just in hiding. Perhaps by telling her story on Netflix's World's Most Wanted, there will finally lead to a break in the case.