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BBC documentary searches for the real Samantha Lewthwaite

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A documentary which airs tonight examines the life of the Aylesbury schoolgirl who became the world’s most wanted woman...

Film-maker Adam Wishart has been on the trail of the ‘White Widow’ for the past year, and believes that tales of Lewthwaite being the mastermind behind terror attacks in Kenya and Nairobi are unlikely.

He said: “I think it is very unlikely that she has the ability to do the nasty things that people say, but she certainly travels with the people who do these kinds of things.

“In jihadi ideology the role of women is to look after the children and to be ideological propagators.”

The White Widow: Searching for Samantha will be shown on BBC1 at 10.35pm.

It tracks the journey of Lewthwaite, from a well-liked and principled pupil at the Grange School, to meeting her husband (7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay) and eventually going on the run as Interpol’s most wanted woman.

But Mr Wishart, who spent time in Aylesbury talking to Lewthwaite’s friends and relatives as part of his research, claims that the 30-year-old mother was not simply the victim of brainwashing from her husband.

He said: “After 7/7 she said in an interview with The Sun that she abhorred ‘that kind of thing’ and that she would have been opposed to it.

“But she stayed in the home of Mohammed Sidiq Khan when he was learning how to make bombs.

“When she and her husband met she was about 19 and he was 16 and it’s not clear which way the planning went, they were an excited teenage couple who were thrilled by the ideas they were sharing.”

The documentary also shows how just prior to 7/7 several young Aylesbury Muslim converts like Lewthwaite travelled to London to see controversial preacher Sheik Abdullah El Faisal.

Mr Wishart said: “There wasn’t a moment of conversion where one day she was a normal schoolgirl and the next she was supporting unspeakable things, but what this did was the next notch in the wheel.”

El Faisal, who was convicted of inciting religious hatred after the London bombings, the radical cleric was also instrumental in introducing Lindsay and Lewthwaite, saying in the programme that Lindsay viewed him like a ‘father figure’.

Former Aylesbury mayor Raj Khan is also interviewed for the film, describing a young Lewthwaite, who he knew as she grew up as an ‘English rose.’

 

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