March 12, 2010 — -- A New Jersey nuclear plant laborer arrested in Yemen with 10 other suspected al Qaeda members was in contact with the same radical Yemeni-American cleric tied to Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, federal law enforcement officials told ABC News.
The New Jersey man, Sharif Mobley, was detained by Yemeni security forces earlier this month and taken to a hospital for medical treatment. He allegedly tried to escape from the hospital over the past weekend by grabbing a security guard's gun and engaging in a gunfight that killed one of the guards.
Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for the Yemeni embassy in Washington, told ABC News that details of Mobley's case "will be clearer in a couple of days."
Asked about Mobley's apparent connections with the cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, Albasha said he was not surprised because radicals and extremists in Yemen seek Awlaki out.
"He is a fixture in jihad 101," Albasha said of Awlaki.
Before fleeing the United States, Awlaki taught at a Virginia mosque visited by 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour.
Since then, Awlaki has become a prominent influence with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and is believed to be in Yemen.
He also was in contact with Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009.
Awlaki is believed to have survived a cruise missile strike on a meeting with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders in December that killed several other of the group's members.
U.S. on Mobley: 'Reviewing His Past Activities'
U.S. law enforcement officials said they have been aware of Mobley for some time, and the FBI's Baltimore field office currently is investigating him.
"The U.S. government is in the process of reviewing his past activities in the U.S., including his employment as a contract laborer at several U.S. nuclear power plants between 2002 and 2008," an official said.
Officials are not aware of any security related incidents concerning Mobley's employment as a laborer. He was not believed to have had access to critical parts of the nuclear plants.