The fugitive ‘white widow’ of a 7/7 London bomber was plotting a violent attack to spring her British accomplice out of a prison, it emerged yesterday.
Kenyan police believe Muslim-convert Samantha Lewthwaite masterminded a scheme to break Jermaine Grant out of jail before a court appearance yesterday.
Prosecutors said two men, who were arrested with grenades and bullet proof vests, later confessed to the mission to free Grant.
As a result, the trial, at which six British anti-terror officers were due to testify, will be moved to ‘safe’ court inside the grounds of a high security jail.
Lewthwaite, 29, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, is being hunted by Kenyan police after they foiled a plan to blow up Western hotels in Mombasa in 2011.
Her co-accused, London-born Grant, 30, was arrested, while Lewthwaite fled with her three children.
It is thought she could be being sheltered in Somalia by Al Shabaab, the East African arm of Al Qaeda.
Lewthwaite was seven months pregnant when her husband Jermaine Lindsay blew up a Piccadilly Line train in 2005, killing 26.
British security services have so far failed to explain how she slipped off the radar, travelled to East Africa on a stolen passport, and became, as police believe, an integral member of Al Shabaab.
Details of the alleged escape plot emerged today as Grant, from Newham, east London, appeared to face a string of terror charges before a magistrate in the port city of Mombasa.
He was working with Lewthwaite, who is also in hiding, to free Grant as he was being brought there from prison, Mr Ondari said.
Mr Ondari urged the judge to move Grant's trial to a secure court inside the grounds of a high security prison amid security concerns.
He said: 'I pray that this case be moved to Shanzu courts within the prison premises for the sake of the court's security.
'There are intelligence reports indicating that there are plans to rescue the first accused from the prison.'
Mr Ondari added that one man allegedly linked to the operation was recently arrested in Mombasa with a grenade, and another was stopped crossing into Kenya from Tanzania with bullet-proof vests and face masks. The Telegraph reports both indicated they were in Kenya to help free Grant, he said.
Grant and Manswab, a Kenyan, were arrested in Mombasa in December 2011. Chemicals found in their home were identical to the ingredients Lindsay used in the 7/7 attacks - killing 26 and himself.
The Telegraph reports Mr Ondari said that both men claimed they were acting under the direction of Lewthwaite.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Ondari said police believed Lewthwaite had been actively involved in the alleged plot to free Grant.
He said: 'There is evidence that associates of the first accused masterminded a plot to free him from custody.
'We believe the group secured weapons and planned a violent attack on the court or on vehicles used to transport him from jail.
'It is believed that the fellow British suspect Samantha Lewthwaite was among the group. We believe she would have been involved in the rescue mission, which was foiled by police.'
The claims against Lewthwaite came as police continued their hunt for the fugitive mother of three, who is believed to have been on the run for 15 months.
The British Muslim convert, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, is suspected of helping to fund terror groups in Kenya.
She was questioned by police in December 2011 but managed to slip away and vanished with her children.
Kenyan police have since been hunting for Lewthwaite, who was married to the Kings Cross bomber Lindsay, within the east African country but fear she may have slipped across the border into neighbouring Tanzania.
Mr Ondari today said officers believed Lewthwaite remained in contact with a close-knit group of bomb suspects who were accused of plotting attacks around Mombasa.
He added: 'There is evidence that Samantha Lewthwaite remains actively involved with the group.
'We do not know where she is, but believe she could be operating from either Kenya or from a border area of Tanzania.'
Police provided extra armed security at court today as Grant appeared in the dock alongside his alleged accomplices.
The British suspect was arrested in December 2011 and has already been convicted of entering Kenya illegally.
He is being held at the high security Shimo La Tewa near Mombasa and is facing charges of possessing explosives and plotting to launch a terror attack alongside fellow suspects Fuad Abubakar, Frank Ngala and Warda Breik Islam, 19, to whom Grant is believed to be married.
Six British police officers were due to testify at the group's trial today before proceedings were postponed amid concern over security.
Magistrate Joyce Gandani accepted the prosecution's plea for the case to be moved and ordered future hearings to take place at a court within the secure boundaries of the prison.
The court heard detectives investigating the alleged plot had arrested two people, one of whom was detained at the Kenyan border in possession of bullet proof vests.
Grant's defence lawyer Mwita Chacha disputed the allegation that there had been a plot to free his client from jail.
He said: 'We expect the state counsel to table some police statement in court to proof his assertion and we knew he will be coming up with theories to delay the trial because of lack of sufficient evidences.
'He is a very crafty man and I don't think what he said is right, I have never witness and only seen on a movie like CSI.
'This investigation is never ending, they will keep on delaying hoping something new will pop up.'
The court heard the case would continue on May 15 and 16 in the absence of the second accused, who is believed to have skipped bail.
Grant, the first named accused, is already serving a three year prison sentence after being convicted of passport offences.
The Muslim convert is accused of being part of a gang who plotted bomb attacks on targets around Mombasa.
The British suspect has also been charged separately over an incident in May 2008 when he allegedly attacked a police outpost near the border with Somalia.
Grant denies all the charges against him and the trial continues.