NAIROBI - It’s speculated one of the world’s most wanted terrorists was not only among the Islamist fighters who attacked the Wesgate Mall in Nairobi, but may well have been one of the masterminds behind the siege.
Samantha Lewthwaite rose to prominence in 2005, following the London bombings - one of the suicide bombers who killed more than 50 people on London's transport system was her husband, earning her the nickname, the ‘White widow’.
Kenyan authorities have been looking for Lewthwaite since late 2011, when they pounced on a suspected terrorist group in Mombasa.
Shortly after, she allegedly entered the country on a forged South African passport in the name of Natalie Faye Webb.
Kenyan officials say the 'White widow' has been plotting attacks across the horn of Africa with al-Shabaab – the Somalia-based cell of militant Islamist group al-Qaeda.
She has also been linked to alleged British terrorist Jermaine Grant, currently on trial in Kenya for possession of various chemicals, batteries and switches used to make explosives.
Kenyan media say extremists call her "Dada Muzungu" – Swahili for ‘white sister’.
Home Affairs has poured cold water on the passport claims saying it can’t comment or take action on media reports.
But the department's Ronnie Mamoepa has confirmed the department will work with its Kenyan counterparts to determine the validity of the passport.
Mamoepa said, “Given our good bilateral relations with Kenyan authorities, we stand ready to assist them should they send in a request to assist them.”
This article has been updated to include a video tracing the White Widow's brief stay in South Africa.