A BANBRIDGE woman wanted by police investigating terrorism in east Africa needs to be found for the sake of the three children who are allegedly on the run with her, a family friend has said.
Council chair Joan Baird, who is a family friend of terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite’s grandmother Lila Allen, said it is vital the 28-year-old is caught, mainly for the sake of their children.
Ms Lewthwaite, who attended Ballydown Primary School when she lived in Whyte Acres before moving to Kent with her mum Christine and soldier dad Andy, is wanted for questioning over a suspected Islamic bomb plot.
The mother-of-three married 7/7 bomber Jermaine Lindsay who killed 26 people when he detonated a bomb on one of London’s busiest tube lines in 2005.
She is said to have changed her name to Sherafiyah after converting to Islam aged 17, and is not thought to have had much contact with her family in recent years.
Her mum Christine, who was visiting her grandmother in Banbridge for her 85th birthday last week, said she was shocked at the possibility her daughter could be involved in a terrorist cell.
Her father Andy, a former British soldier who served in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, told The Times he did not believe his daughter would get involved in terrorism.
Kenyan police are now working with the CIA and London’s Metropolitan Police to investigate the situation.
Councillor Baird said friends and neighbours of the Allen family are shocked and very sadenned by the situation.
“The people of Banbridge are very distressed on behalf of Mrs Allen and her close family,” she told the Leader. “This woman (Samantha) is reported to have done things, and to my mind it would be great if she and her three children could be traced so they could get help - because they need help.”
A spokesman for the Kenyan Government said they do not believe Ms Lewthwaite is planning an attack, but said they suspect she is a strong supporter of fundmamentalists.
“We believe she is a collaborator with terrorists, not a planner,” he said. “Our understanding is she was working with people here, al-Qaeda or al-Shabaab people, she is a very big sympathiser with those people.
“She was not going to carry out an attack, but she helped to fundraise for them, helped in the acquisition of weapons, hiding people, transporting people, that kind of thing.”