Sharif Mobley

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Sharif Mobley

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Sharif Mobley

Philly CBS News is reporting that the Al-Qaeda suspect from NJ worked at 6 nuke plants.  Sharif Mobley is being held in Yemen and accused of being an al Qaeda member. The FBI is investigating the 26-year-old New Jersey man's case.

Mobley, 26, worked for contractors at plants in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland from 2002 to 2008, mostly hauling materials and setting up scaffolding, plant officials said.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said Friday that investigations are under way into which areas Mobley entered.  But he noted that areas containing nuclear fuel are tightly controlled, and that a laborer typically would not have access to security information or other sensitive matters.  The plants are also checking areas where Mobley worked to ensure everything is in order, said NRC spokeswoman Diane Screnci.

Mobley, a U.S. citizen of Somali descent, has not been linked to any wrongdoing at any of the plants.  And officials said nothing he did when he worked there aroused any suspicion.  Officials said Mobley passed the necessary screenings, which include criminal background checks, drug testing, psychological assessments and identity verification.

Nevertheless, Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an industry watchdog, said the case raises questions about security at the nation's nuclear plants.  "The real question is: Was there information that the NRC or utilities could have seen that would have led to his disqualification?" Lyman said.

Mobley, a Muslim who grew up in Buena, N.J., was among 11 al-Qaida suspects rounded up earlier this month in Yemen.  He was taken to a hospital there over the weekend after he complained of feeling ill.  Yemeni officials said he snatched a gun and shot a security guard to death in an attempt to escape from the hospital.

He has not been accused by authorities in the U.S. or Yemen of attempting to make a bomb or attack a nuclear plant.

His parents have said he is not a terrorist, though former friend Roman Castro said Mobley was becoming increasingly radical in his Muslim beliefs before he moved to Yemen about two years ago.

A law enforcement official says Mobley traveled to Yemen with the goal of joining a terrorist group. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still going on.  A second official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, says the U.S. government was aware of Mobley's potential extremist ties long before his arrest.  The official did not say how long the government had been paying attention to him.

Related:  Mobley attended prayer services at West Philly Mosque

 

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