US terror suspect charged with murder in Yemen

AP News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2010 12:51 PM
US terror suspect charged with murder in Yemen

A Yemeni court on Wednesday charged an American who was arrested for suspected al-Qaida ties with the murder of a Yemeni soldier and the wounding of another during a failed escape attempt.

Judicial officials said the 26-year-old American of Somali descent, Sharif Mobley, was charged by a criminal court for killing one of his guards and wounding another while attempting to escape from a hospital where he was receiving treatment in March.

The officials spoke about the trial on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Mobley was originally arrested for suspected links to al-Qaida.

On Wednesday's hearing, however, Judge Abdul Wali al-Shalani made no mention of al-Qaida and adjourned the trial until Nov. 10. Unlike other terror suspects, Mobley is being tried in a criminal court, rather than a security one specializing in terror cases.

Some Yemen analysts believe that the Yemeni government exaggerates threats of al-Qaida in order to get more Western and Arab financial and political assistance to deal with other unrelated rebellions in the country.

U.S. officials say Mobley, who grew up in Buena, N.J., traveled to Yemen more than two years ago with the goal of joining a terror group and that the U.S. government was aware of his potential extremist ties long before his arrest.

While living in the United States, Mobley passed a criminal background check and worked as a laborer at several nuclear power plants, but there is no indication that his work had any connection to his alleged involvement with terror groups.

Yemen's weak central government has struggled with a growing al-Qaida threat from militants who are increasing their operations in the impoverished and largely lawless country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Qaida's offshoot in Yemen grew strength after several key leaders escaped from a Yemeni jail in 2006. In 2009, it was further bolstered by a merger with Saudi al-Qaida militants to form al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.