A former schoolmate of Samantha Lewthwaite has spoken out about his time at the Grange with the 7/7 bombing widow.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was in the same religious studies class during the late 90s as the terror suspect, who has been linked to the Nairobi shopping mall attack.
He said before Lewthwaite, known as the White Widow, converted to Islam she had a keen interest in the religion and was ‘always hanging out with Asian girls’ in her mid teens.
Speaking exclusively to the Bucks Herald, he said: “From when I first met her she was interested in the religion, she knew a lot about it.
“She never mentioned anything about converting to me but I think it was where everyone knew she was going.”
The schoolmate left the Grange before Lewthwaite converted to Islam, but says he and other friends were ‘massively shocked’ when her husband, Jermaine Lindsay, was involved in the London bombings and she was later linked to a plot to blow up a Mombasa shopping centre.
He believes her personal circumstances may have had something to do with her being radicalised.
The man said: “I think certain people can be easily brainwashed.
“With her home situation and her parents breaking up, she probably needed something to cling on to and she’s gone down the wrong side.”
Lewthwaite has never been found guilty of terror crimes but the former classmate said: “She’s one of the most wanted people in the world. If she’s that wanted, she must be wanted for a reason.
“If you’ve got nothing to hide you would come forward.”
The man says he and other friends used to walk to and from school with Lewthwaite. The last time he saw her was in Aylesbury around two years ago, shortly before she was linked to the Mombasa plot.
He says she was always a ‘really nice girl’ when they were at the Grange.
“She was always really helpful and never in trouble,” he said.
“She was always helping out with the teachers, staying late to do stuff. All the teachers loved her.
“When it all came out about the terror links you thought ‘OK she converted because she has a keen interest in the religion but this side of her is the complete opposite of what she was at school’.
“We all still talk about her now, it was the topic of conversation in our house last night.”
Did you know Samantha Lewthwaite during her time in Aylesbury? Call our newsdesk on 01296 619764.