Friends and family of Samir Khan, the American Muslim radical who was killed Friday in Yemen alongside Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, said they saw him heading down a path to violence and tried to get him on the right path through interventions in 2008 before he moved to the Middle East.
“We met with him twice. We tried to offer him some kind words of advice and show him that he was going down the wrong path,” said Jibril Hough, a member of Khan’s former mosque, the Islamic Center of Charlotte. Hough is a longtime friend of Khan's family who organized the sit-downs between Khan, relatives and well-respected members of the Islamic community.
Hough said he felt the need to organize the meeting after reports he was behind a radical Islamic jihadist blog.
“He was a talented guy, very Internet savvy. We gathered to talk to him and convince him to stop using those talents in a negative way and turn them towards a more positive manner,” Hough recalled.
Soon after the meetings in October 2008, Khan left for Yemen, never to return home.
“He told us that he had a good job offer to teach out there and the opportunity to learn Arabic,” said Abdullah Mahmud, an acquaintance of Khan's from the mosque, “He was also very fond of Yemeni woman. He thought they were very beautiful. He was hoping that he would find a wife while over there.”
But what Khan told others was nothing more than a ruse, as he went to Yemen, worked alongside al-Awlaki and edited seven issues of Inspire Magazine, an English-language publication that promoted Al Qaeda's beliefs and even taught lone wolfs.
Khan’s family, still living in Charlotte, apparently were stricken with grief upon hearing Friday's news.
"His father had doubt about his death at first,” Hough said. "But once it was confirmed, he took it hard. He has felt frustration over the past couple of years with his son going down this path and now he has to deal with his death."