Samantha Lewthwaite, 29, is being hailed as the ultimate positive role model to British women of today. Despite suffering tragedy in her life, she has risen to be a senior figure in terror organisation Al Qaeda’s Somali offshoot, Al Shabaab, while also being a full-time mum to two children and two girls, all without ever claiming a penny in benefits.
‘It all shows that women can make it in both the boardroom and the bedroom - though admittedly we haven’t got either of those in Somalia,’ the Buckinghamshire-born entrepreneur, known jokingly as the ‘White Widow’, told reporters over a simple meal of qat and goats’ intestines at the bijou love nest she shares with her second husband Abdi Wahid at an undisclosed location in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.
Tragically, Muslim convert Samantha lost her first husband Germaine Lindsay in tragic circumstances in July 2005. She still clearly finds it hard to talk about this time in her life. However, she was determined to make a new life for herself and left Britain for Africa in 2009.
Samantha’s success in rising to the top at Al Shabaab is all the more remarkable in that Somali men traditionally do not accept that women might take senior managerial roles and issue orders to them. Or be seen in public. Or have intact vaginas.
To make it in the world of fundamentalist-inspired psychopathic violence, Lewthwaite had to show she could match any man by having any potential rivals killed off. Her father Andy, who served in the British army in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles in the 1970s, would surely be proud.
However, Samantha is not content to sit on her laurels and is now branching out into new lines of business by turning her house in the Kenyan city of Mombasa into a bomb factory. Celebrity PR consultants are now urging her to launch her own line of niqabs for women who worry about the burqa may occasionally leave their ankles showing.
‘Sometimes I think back to my old life in Aylesbury,’ Lewthwaite said. ‘I don’t go out much– there’s no reason to, really, the shopping malls in Nairobi are certainly nothing to write home about. But life is better here in Africa, where an ordinary girl like me has a much better chance to make a name for herself.’