American Linked to Al Qaeda Arrested in Yemen
Updated: October 29, 2010
Posted: March 16, 2010
An American formerly employed at several U.S. nuclear power plants has been arrested in Yemen for his alleged involvement in terrorist attacks and his suspected links to Al Qaeda.
On March 7, 2010, Sharif Mobley, a suspected American member of Al Qaeda detained in Yemen, tried to shoot his way out of the Yemeni hospital where he was held. In the failed escape attempt, Mobley, a 26-year-old American citizen from Buena, New Jersey, convinced his hospital guards to unshackle him from his bed to join them for prayers. Mobley grabbed a gun laid down by one of the guards preparing to pray and shot and killed him and seriously injured another. He was recaptured shortly thereafter and charged with murder.
Mobley, who was wanted by Yemeni officials for his alleged involvement in several terrorist attacks, was among 11 men arrested the previous week at the Sanaa home of an Al Qaeda member, according to a spokesperson at the Yemeni embassy in Washington, D.C. He was later transferred from prison to the hospital for medical treatment.
Mobley reportedly left the U.S. in 2008, telling family and friends that he was traveling to Yemen to study Arabic. Before he left to Yemen, Mobley worked at six U.S. nuclear power plants in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
An internal investigation of Mobley's activities during his employment at the plants revealed that he had previously exhibited extremist tendencies. According to a report by the inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mobley told a fellow employee "We are brothers in the union but if a Holy War comes, lookout." The report also stated that Mobley labeled all non-Muslims as "infidels" and was observed viewing "unusual" Web sites, including one with a picture of a mushroom cloud.
American and Yemeni officials have corroborated reports that Mobley was in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen who targets English-speaking Muslim audiences with radical online lectures that encourage attacks against the West and non-Muslims.
Al-Awlaki has also been linked to several other accused terrorists who have carried out attacks against the U.S. The Yemeni-based cleric reportedly exchanged more than a dozen emails with Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged gunman that killed 13 people at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas in November 2009, and reportedly met with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who attempted to detonate a bomb on a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam on Christmas Day 2009.
American officials have stated that Yemen could become Al Qaeda's next operational and training hub. More than 30 American ex-convicts who converted to Islam in prison have traveled to Yemen within the past year to study Arabic, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Some of these individuals have disappeared and are suspected of training at regional Al Qaeda camps. Other Americans that have also moved to Yemen to study Arabic or Islam have adopted a radical interpretation of Islam and married Yemeni women in order to stay in the country.