Samantha Lewthwaite has made plenty of news since she first came into the spotlight on July 7, 2005. That's when her husband, Muslim convert Jermaine Lindsay, blew himself up in London in the service of Allah – killing 52 people and injuring more than 700 others. Yet more and more about the so-called "white widow" still remains mysterious– and even a bit bizarre.
Now suspected of helping orchestrate the September attacks at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya – in which more than 72 were killed and hundreds wounded – Lewthwaite is considered one of the world's most dangerous women. Some counterterrorism experts working on her case believe she has become a leading figure in the al-Shabaab terrorist network.
Investigators have a better picture of Lewthwaite's thinking after recovering a hand-written 9-page diary and a computer showing her Internet search history. What emerges is the picture of a woman who loves her children, yet boasts of how they are being raised to become terrorists.
One page is devoted to a conversation her husband had with two of their children.
"He asked them what do you want to be when you are older?" she wrote. "Both had many answers but both agreed to one of wanting to be a mujahid. He asked them how did they plan to achieve such a goal, and what really is a mujahid?"
To reach their goals, the children would have to learn what that means.
"The only way to do this is if we know what a Mujahid is? How does he spend his day? How does he spend his night? And once we know the answers to this we can strive to be a Mujahid."
British media say Lewthwaite once was a "nice," "shy," Irish Catholic girl from County Down, North Ireland.
But her diary makes clear her ideas of faith changed radically. In seeking a spouse, she wrote that she wanted a man who would "go forth and give all he could for Allah and live a life of terrorising the disbelievers as they have us. This is what I wanted and Allah gave me this and better."
Jihadis apparently want to look good, too. Investigators checked her Google searches and other computer activities, finding an interest in diets, makeup, and making explosives only hours before the Nairobi attack.
In other Internet searches, she sought advice on the "Islamic meaning of horoscopes," even looking up her own star sign – a practice deemed sinful in the eyes of Islam.
Lewthwaite may have thought that she was safe from being identified in her online activity: she reportedly spent a year working in a pie factory in South Africa under the name Natalie Faye Webb. Investigators suspect that her recent clothing shopping sprees, as well as her search for makeup and diet tips, may indicate her plans to change identity again as "the world's most wanted woman," continues on the run.