A former friend of terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite says she was a ‘very strong personality’ and ‘even boys were intimidated by her’.
Lewthwaite is wanted by Interpol and has been linked to last month’s terrorist attacks in Nairobi.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she was ‘good friends’ with Lewthwaite during their time at the Grange School.
Lewthwaite has been described as a ‘shy girl’ by some who knew her, however the woman, who had a sleepover at her house when they were in their teens, said this was absolutely not the case.
She said: “To say Samantha Lewthwaite was shy at school is completely wrong.
“She was a very strong personality within the class.
“She never had loads of friends at once.
“If you were a fairly close friend, as I was for a time and someone upset you she would absolutely defend you.
“She never really got into any trouble but she was very gobby and always had her say.
“She always won arguments because she was the sort of character you didn’t mess with.
“Even the boys were intimidated by her.”
The woman also described the last time she saw Lewthwaite when they met in a doctors’ waiting room, after the 7/7 terrorist attack in which Lewthwaite’s widow Jermaine Lindsay was a suicide bomber.
She said: “After the bombings, I bumped into her in the waiting room of Poplar Grove surgery. Even though she had her Muslim gear on, we both recognised each other straight away.
“It was really awkward because I hadn’t seen her for a long time and I didn’t know what to say.
“My first instinct was to ask how she was but I knew what she had been through so I thought better of it.
“Both of our children were playing together in the waiting room and then she said to me that our children shouldn’t play together because she didn’t want her child’s nails to scratch my child. Then one of us got called through, the conversation ended there and that was the last time I saw her.”
The woman added that her and other schoolfriends still talk regularly on Facebook today, and that all their conversations at the moment were revolving around Lewthwaite.
She said: “It is all me and my friends are talking about. It is quite surreal really, especially seeing our school photo all over the media.
“I have been watching the coverage like a hawk and it gives me butterflies.
“It makes me nervous just talking about it, even now.”