Terror suspect not a monster - lawyer

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iol pic afr kenya-uk-terrorism AFP Briton Jermaine Grant appears in the Shanzu Law Court in the city of Mombasa, Kenya. Picture: Ivan Lieman

Mombasa, Kenya -

A British terrorism suspect in Kenya is no “monster” and has been falsely linked with a fugitive jihadist from the UK dubbed the “White Widow”, his lawyer told a court on Thursday.

Suspected militant Jermaine Grant, accused of plotting bomb attacks and having ties to Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, was arrested in December 2011 in the Kenyan port city with chemicals, batteries and switches.

Prosecutors have accused Grant, a Muslim convert, of working with fellow Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, the fugitive widow of British suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay who blew himself up on a London Underground train on July 7, 2005, killing 26 people.

Lewthwaite, a mother-of-three and daughter of a British soldier, is wanted by Kenyan police after persistent claims she is in the country.

Kenyan media speculated she was involved in last year's Westgate mall massacre in Nairobi, but Grant's lawyer tried to quash connections between the two.

“There is an obsession that Samantha has to be brought into this case,” Grant's lawyer Chacha Mwita told the court.

Grant had questioned why the media was “hell-bent to portray him before Kenyans as a monster, and pressure this court to ensure he doesn't get out of jail”, Mwita added.

Police this month said they had lost the trail of Lewthwaite.

Kenyan media have reported several occasions in which witnesses have seen a mystery white woman during a string of grenade attacks and killings in the coastal region, who apparently then vanishes without a trace.

There have been reported sightings of her riding a camel in Somalia, as well as appearing on the other side of Africa, in Nigeria.

Grant is believed to have become radicalised as a teenager in the same British prison where “shoe bomber” Richard Reid first turned to Islam.

Reid, who claimed he was an al-Qaeda recruit, is serving a life sentence in the United States for trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001.

Grant pleaded guilty in December 2011 to charges of being in the country illegally and lying about his nationality, for which he was sentenced to two jail terms of two years, to run concurrently.

The trial continues on October 16. - Sapa-AFP


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