The terrorism case of Rajib Karim, a 30-year-old British Airways call center employee, took a radical turn last week when a British court learned Karim volunteered to work as a member of a British Airways crew during an upcoming crew strike. Karim’s ultimate goal, the court learned, was to become a suicide bomber. He sought out a job with the airline so that he could gather information useful to his terrorist handlers in Yemen.
Prosecutor Colin Gibbs provided more details. While working at the call center designing software for British Airways, Rajib Karim had also been working with foreign jihadists in Yemen, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, giving and receiving support and “advice.” As a British Airways employee, he had learned otherwise inaccessible cabin crew protocols after the airline made this sensitive information available to employees who’d volunteered to pick up extra jobs during the strike. “There is no way this individual would have been considered for cabin crew work because he did not meet the criteria,” a British Airways spokesman told the Times of London in response to explosive details in the British press. But the fact that Karim had access to information he was able to relay to his overseas handlers could not be denied by British Airways. This included how to beat airport security, how baggage and body scanners worked, and how British Airways crew conducted certain tasks.
Across the pond, here in America, the news that yet another young radicalized American Muslim male joined the jihad and traveled to Yemen for terrorist training made headlines on Friday as well. The first reports of the arrest of terrorist suspect Sharif Mobley, a twenty-six-year-old man from New Jersey, focused on the fact that after he was arrested in Yemen, he killed a hospital guard in an attempted escape. Taking a page out of Aafia Siddiqui’s playbook, Mobley apparently grabbed a weapon from a security guard on post at the hospital where he was a patient and started a gunfight.
Shortly thereafter, it surfaced that Mobley worked at as many as five different nuclear facilities in America over a period of six years. These facilities are in New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Diane Screnci, issued a statement saying that the commission “is not aware of any security-related concerns or incidents related to Mr. Mobley’s prior employment.” This is the same commission that has repeatedly been accused of refusing to conduct risk assessments regarding potential terrorist attacks at nuclear facilities.
The cases of Rajib Karim and Sharif Mobley are about one thing: access. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other naysayers are downplaying the situation with Mobley, saying he did not have access to “nuclear secrets.” Mobley didn’t have access to a college degree; it’s apocryphal to think he would be granted access to anything about how nuclear fission and nuclear fusion occur. Further, Mobley was about ten pay grades away from keeping company with men like Dr. Adlene Hicheur and Halim Hicheur, two nuclear scientist linked to al-Qaeda in Europe. What is at issue is Mobley’s access to nuclear material, which he undeniably had. Mobley had “red badge” clearance to work at a nuclear facility. Having such clearance means having access to a whole lot of closely guarded nuclear security protocols. The knowledge of “nuclear secrets” is not required to cause catastrophic damage at a nuclear facility if the bad intention is there. Access is the only thing that is needed to shut down the cooling system on a nuclear reactor so as to cause a catastrophic, radioactive meltdown.
Rajib Karim relayed everything he knew about British Airways security protocols to his terrorist handlers in Yemen, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. What did Sharif Mobley tell his terrorist handlers in Yemen about security protocols at nuclear facilities in the United States?
Officials with Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), the company that run two of the New Jersey nuclear facilities where Mobley worked, say that Mobley showed no signs of suspicious behavior while working at the plant. To spot such things, PSEG says it runs “behavioral observation programs” to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior by its employees. But what goes on outside the nuclear facilities’ high walls stays outside the facilities’ walls … until ABC News shows up with a crew. Roman Castro, one of Mobley’s former classmates from high school, says he bumped into Mobley four years ago. Castro had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq; Mobley was working at a PSEG nuclear facility at the time. Castro says Mobley unexpectedly shouted at him: “Get the hell away from me, you Muslim killer!”
When a radical, anti-American individual gets a job at five separate nuclear facilities over a period of six years, there is much to be concerned about. Especially when it turns out that that young American Muslim left work at the nuclear facilities to join the jihad and travel to Yemen for terrorist training — including training from Anwar al-Awlaki, the same man linked to the massacre at Fort Hood and the bombing plot of an airplane over Detroit on Christmas Day.