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The post-9/11 life of an American charged with murder

The case of Sharif Mobley is seen by U.S. officials as an example of young, American-born Muslims turning to jihad. His defenders say he never conspired to commit terrorism.

When Mobley did not come home with the cereal, his wife grew frantic. She called the U.S. Embassy, where officials told her to go to her local police station and report him missing. That night, she recalled, four Yemeni men in suits and about 15 soldiers searched the couple's apartment, taking away their computer. Islam said she saw one of the men in suits the next morning at the U.S. Embassy, wearing a visitor's badge. She said one U.S. official dismissed her concerns about the search.

"You should be used to that. You're from Philly," he told her.

Islam said she pressed U.S. officials for information for weeks until family members decided she should bring the children home.

After three to four weeks, Mobley's Yemeni captors told him he would be moved to a prison. On the day he was transferred, a catheter was removed, but badly, and Mobley started to bleed again during the transport.

"When they unload him, he falls, and they kick him and call him a dog," Crider said. "They drag him down some stairs and toss him on a table, and he loses consciousness."

After just a few hours in the prison, she said, the profusely bleeding Mobley was moved to a general hospital.

There his treatment improved. He wasn't always blindfolded and shackled, and the guards, some of whom seemed to warm to him, would put their guns down in the room.

The two U.S. agents also visited. But after weeks of questioning, they appeared frustrated with Mobley, repeating the suggestion that his wife could end up in prison but getting nowhere.

"His behavior was not very helpful to his cause," said the second U.S. official.

"I think at that point the plan was to wait for him to be deported," Crider said. "They realized he was a dead end."

On the evening of March 6, Mobley and his guards watched the Mel Gibson movie "Braveheart," Crider said. In one scene, a soldier attempts to rape the wife of the character played by Gibson, and the woman is later executed. The events help propel the Gibson character into a vengeful rampage against his oppressors.

Mobley "is going crazy about his family," Crider said. "He is begging everyone to call his family."

The next day, March 7, according to Yemeni officials, Mobley grabbed a gun and killed a guard in an unsuccessful attempt to free himself. A second guard was wounded.

What no one had told Mobley was that his wife and two children had left for the United States 72 hours earlier.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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