Aylesbury councillor speaks about 'White Widow' terrorist Samantha Lewthwaite in new Netflix documentary

An Aylesbury councillor has told of the time he was contacted by one of the world’s most-wanted terror suspects whose husband would go on to be involved in the plot of the 7/7 bombings in London.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 2:09 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 2:10 pm
Samantha Lewthwaite

Councillor Niknam Hussain, Liberal Democrats representative for Aylesbury South West, was recently interviewed for an episode of the Netflix series ‘World’s Most Wanted’, which focuses on the whereabouts of Samantha Lewthwaite — the ‘white widow’ of suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay.

The 2005 attack killed 56 people and following the incident Samantha, who grew up on Northern Road in Aylesbury, was quizzed by police over any potential role she had in the bombings.

She was released after denying prior knowledge of the attacks but later fled the country, allegedly becoming involved with terror cells Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda before being linked to two terror attacks in Kenya in 2012 and 2013.

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Councillor Niknam Hussain

Samantha is now on-the-run and is one of the most-wanted terror suspects in the world, with Interpol issuing an arrest warrant for the Northern-Ireland born pariah for suspected possession of explosives and alleged membership of Al-Shabaab.

During filming for the Netflix show, Councillor Hussain showed crews around the road where Samantha — who studied at The Grange school — grew up.

Speaking to the Herald about his knowledge of her, he said: “I knew of her because she grew up with relatives of mine on Northern Road.

“I never professed to know her personally after she grew up, she probably wouldn’t know me.

“As an adult, she is no friend of mine, I don’t know her, what I can tell you is: I know of her, because it’s a small town and small community and when she was an adult she did come to me two or three weeks before the 7/7 bombings.

“I represented the area of Northern Road that she lived in, and she was living in private accommodation.

“She was looking for social housing. Her and Germaine got in contact with me to see if I could help in any way because I was a county councillor for that area.

“I actually met Germaine three Fridays before the incident when he was doing Friday prayers.

“She was a normal person. Germaine, when I met him, was the least vocal in a group of people that were talking one Friday afternoon.

“He stood there very quietly and didn’t say a word.

“If you’d said to me ‘Niknam, I’ll give you a million pounds this guy is going to do this in three weeks’ I would never have believed you.”

The episode follows Samantha’s journey — from spending her early years amidst conflict in Northern Ireland, to converting to Islam while growing up in Aylesbury, to meeting Germaine Lindsay at a Stop the War rally in London.

Dubbed the ‘white widow’ by the tabloid press, she condemned Lindsay’s attacks following the 7/7 bombings in interviews given to newspapers.

But following this, she fled the country without a trace.

She was believed to have entered Kenya in late 2011 using a fraudulent passport and was placed under surveillance by Kenyan authorities.

But she managed to evade police and less than a year later she was suspected of being involved in a grenade attack at a bar in Mombasa in which three people were killed.

In September 2013, she was linked with the Westgate Mall shopping attack in Nairobi which left 71 people dead and hundreds more injured, but this was later dismissed by Al-Shabaab, the terror group which claimed responsibility for the incident.

She has been accused of ‘masterminding’ other terror attacks after becoming a “key member of terror group Al-Shabaab”, according to reports from various press outlets.

But Cllr Hussain commented: “There are two extreme narratives. One is, she’s a monster, she’s mastermind. You think to yourself, ‘why?’, a person from a normal suburban household grows into this so-called mastermind. You feel sad for them, it’s a tragic thing for her, her kid, for the world. To have someone doing these abhorrent acts or being involved in them in any which way.

“The other extreme narrative thinking is no one seems to be able to explain is this is no high-performing intellectual. She went to school in Aylesbury, I know the teachers who taught her for four years in Aylesbury throughout education. She was a lovely child, normal, fairly average in her academics.

“As a local activist, she was never on the frontlines giving leaflets out in Aylesbury, she went on a few demos but who didn’t if you’re an activist?

“Those of us who were activists in Aylesbury and Buckinghamshire never saw her coming to meetings or giving leaflets out.

“Then you say to me ‘how did she go to the most patriarchal society there is in the world and then get involved in an organisation which is even more patriarchal than the society that surrounds her?’

“And you’re saying to me these hardened terrorists who kill people on a whim will take orders from a light-eyed, light-skinned young girl in her 20s from Aylesbury?

“She fooled the cream of British intelligence for three to four weeks when she was being interviewed. The cream of British intelligence couldn’t find anything on her for three to four weeks and then turns into this ‘mastermind’ in a totally patriarchal society.

“I’m willing to listen, I’m not poo-pooing the idea, I just think the answer lies between those two extremes and no one knows where it is.

“For an ordinary person who lives in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, it’s a bit mystifying.

“Those are the two extremes of the narrative and I don’t know where the truth is between them.

“The documentary had an angle to play but as always the truth is out there.

“It is much more complex than it has been painted out to be. It is sad and tragic that a young girl and her family is somehow involved in this in tragedy. We don’t know her full story and the only time we will know her full-story is if and when she comes out.”

World’s Most Wanted is available to view on Netflix now.