On January 20, as Houthi fighters battled the guards watching the compound of Yemen’s president and further expanded their grip on the capital, a US citizen who has been detained in Sana’a since 2010 and hasn’t been seen in almost a year called home to say that the Shia rebels had taken over the prison where he is held and that they planned to “kill everyone,” according to his wife who resides in the US.
“Yemen is in complete turmoil as of yesterday,” she wrote on a Facebook page advocating for his release. “He was able to make a call and asked for his country, America, to save his life by rescuing him from a sectarian battle between two groups [with] which he has no involvement.”
Sharif Mobley, a 31-year-old father of three from New Jersey, was snatched by Yemeni security officers 5 years ago and is suspected by the US of having ties to terrorist groups after he made contract with US-born Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a US drone attack in Yemen in 2011. His wife, who lived with him at the time of his capture, said they had traveled to Yemen to study Arabic and the teachings of Islam.