BUENA, N.J. – Sharif Mobley had strong Muslim views as early as high school. But his old friend Roman Castro knew he had radicalized when he saw him about four years ago.
Castro, an Army veteran who did a tour in Iraq, said Mobley had only these words for him in a chance meeting: “Get the hell away from me, you Muslim killer!”
Now, Mobley is in custody in Yemen as a suspected member of the same branch of al-Qaida that’s linked to the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt of a Detroit-bound jet, and stands accused of killing a guard in an attempt to break out of a hospital, officials said Thursday.
Mobley, a former laborer at several nuclear power plants in the U.S., appears to be the latest example of the phenomenon of Americans joining terror movements overseas, which U.S. intelligence officials have warned of.
His case surfaces days after charges of terrorist connections were brought against Colleen LaRose, an American-born woman known as “Jihad Jane” who lived for years in Pennsylvania.
Mobley, a 26-year-old natural-born U.S. citizen, was identified by Yemeni officials as a Somali-American. A former neighbor said he moved to Yemen about two years ago, supposedly to learn Arabic and study Islam.
He was among 11 al-Qaida suspects detained this month in a security sweep in Yemen’s capital of San’a this month. He was taken to the hospital over the weekend after he complained of feeling ill. He snatched a gun from a security guard and fatally shot one guard and wounded another before being captured, said Mohammed Albasha, spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington.
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