This one hits close to home. I grew up in Absecon, New Jersey and attended Holy Spirit High School. Our sports teams competed against Buena High School, which al Qaeda-linked radical Sharif Mobley graduated from before moving to Yemen — where he was reportedly captured this week during a counterterrorism sweep. Mobley shot two guards in a Yemeni hospital during an escape attempt, according to authorities. The AP quoted a friend of Mobley’s who said his radicalization started in high school:
Roman Castro of Landisville, N.J., says 26-year-old Sharif Mobley tried to convert him and other friends to Islam. They attended Buena (BYOO’-nah) Regional High School in New Jersey and graduated in 2002.
Castro, a Roman Catholic who served in Iraq, says he attended a Muslim convention in Philadelphia with Mobley. But he says Mobley became increasingly confrontational about his beliefs and referred to him in 2006 as a “Muslim killer.”
Castro says Mobley began leading pilgrimages to Mecca with other Muslims.
His family is denying everything:
U.S. citizen who was under FBI investigation in Delaware was arrested last week with suspected al-Qaeda members in Yemen, then killed a guard while trying to escape, a Yemeni government official said yesterday.
Sharif Mobley was born and raised in Buena Borough, N.J., a tiny western Atlantic County farming community, and later lived in Philadelphia and Newark, Del. Yemeni authorities said he could face murder charges.
“He has blood on his hands,” said Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for the Yemeni embassy in Washington.
Albasha said Mobley was arrested last week during a sweep of al-Qaeda operatives with close ties to an Alabama-born extremist based in Somalia, Abu Mansour, known as “The American,” and the group al-Shabaab, or “The Youth.”
The FBI has been tracking young Somali-American men who have allegedly joined al-Shabaab in Somalia; at least 14 from the Minneapolis area have been indicted on terrorism charges.
Mobley’s ethnic background could not be confirmed yesterday, but FBI spokesman Rich Wolf said that Mobley was under investigation in the United States. Law enforcement sources said the investiation was terror-related and centered on Mobley’s activities while he lived in Newark, Del. A Justice Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, declined to comment.
The suspect’s father, Charles Mobley, told the Associated Press at the family’s home in Buena Borough: “I can tell you this: He’s no terrorist.”
And I can tell you these unsettling facts:
The Buena, N.J. native has also been accused of taking part in several acts of terrorism, Yemini officials say. He also purportedly has ties to the same branch of al-Qaeda who are suspected of attempting to blow up a U.S. airliner on its way to Detroit on Christmas.
…A former neighbor said Mobley moved to Yemen two years ago to study Islam.
Mobley, who was born in the U.S., also worked as a laborer at three Salem County nuclear power plants, power company officials say.
Working for several contractors, Mobley carried supplies and did maintenance work at the plants on Artificial Island in Lower Alloways Creek from 2002 to 2008, PSE&G spokesperson Joe Delmar said.
Mobley also worked at other plants in the area, Delmar said.
Speaking to NBC Philadelphia Wednesday, Mobley’s mother denied claims her son was a terrorist. She called Sharif a “good Muslim” and said he’s “absolutely not a terrorist.”
However, she did confirm that when she last spoke to her son in late January he was in Yemen. The FBI also visited their home, but the mother would not say for what reason.
Update: JWF notes that Mobley campaigned for Democrat Jon Corzine. If he had campaigned for Chris Christie, it would be front-page news and fodder for the Krugman/Olbermann/Tea Party-basing nutroots convergence.