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Muslim student arrested with pipebombs near Navy base had terror past in Egypt -documentation indictment pdf

August 31, 2007

Indicted USF Student has Terror Past in Egypt

by IPT
IPT News
August 31, 2007

Two Egyptian students enrolled at the University of South Florida have been indicted for carrying explosive materials across states lines. One of the defendants also is charged with teaching the other how to use them for violent reasons.

Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24, an engineering graduate student and teaching assistant at the Tampa-based university, faces terrorism charges for teaching and demonstrating how to use the explosives.

According to officials familiar with the case, Mohamed has been arrested previously in Egypt on terrorism-related charges. He is said to have produced an Internet video showing how to build a remote-controlled car bomb.

Mohamed and Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, also an engineering student, were stopped for speeding Aug. 4 in Goose Creek, S.C., where they have been held on state charges. Police found pipe bombs in their car near a Navy base in South Carolina where enemy combatants have been held. They have been held in a South Carolina jail while the FBI continued to investigate whether there was a terrorism link.

The men reportedly made police officer suspicious during a traffic stop when one of them tried to quickly put away a laptop computer. The computer was seized.

Mohamed faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the count of demonstrating how to make and use an explosive device. He and Megahed both face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of transporting explosives across state lines without permits.

Their defense attorney, Andy Savage, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

In South Carolina, where Mohamed and Megahed have been held in the Berkeley County jail, U.S. Attorney Reginald I. Lloyd praised state and federal authorities for cooperating in the four-week investigation that initially did not look like a terrorism case.

"The arresting deputy's vigilance and the immediate response of our local investigators and prosecutors are highly commendable," Lloyd said in a statement.

Since the Aug. 4 arrest, authorities sought to determine whether Mohamed and Megahed were fledgling terrorists or merely college students headed to the beach with devices made from fireworks they bought at Wal-Mart in their car, as they claimed. The local sheriff in South Carolina said the explosives were "other than fireworks."

The charges follow several searches in Tampa, including of a storage facility and a park where the explosives might have been tested, authorities said.

Both Mohamed and Megahed are in the country legally on student visas, officials said.

Mohamed had rented a room in a house in Temple Terrace, a suburb of Tampa, which was used as the office for the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a think-tank founded by former USF Professor Sami Al-Arian. WISE rented the same home on Pampas Place during the early 1990s.

Al-Arian then lied to local code enforcement officials after neighbors complained about the traffic in and out of the house. It was against city codes to run a business in the residential neighborhood. Al-Arian denied the home was an office, city records show.

In 2006, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Evidence presented at his trial showed Al-Arian served on the PIJ governing board.

A grand jury in Tampa heard Wednesday from the home's owner, Noor Salhab, and Salhab's son. In addition, Ahmed Bedier, spokesman for the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), testified under subpoena. He told reporters that he was asked questions similar to what he would get at a press conference.

Bedier has acted as a family spokesman for the Megahed family. Initially, he criticized the investigation for what he termed "the lack of evidence."

"They brought in the bomb squad and detonated the evidence they had. That was premature to charge somebody and rush to judgment without evidence."

In addition, he told the Tampa Tribune that the men were being scrutinized due to their ethnicity.

"Obviously their heritage and background is playing a major role in blowing this out of proportion," Bedier said. "If these were some good old boys, I doubt this [story] would be played around the world."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


MIM:The indictment is posted at and the DoJ press release is posted at

Feds indict Egyptian students for moving explosives across state lines

Originally published 01:11 p.m., August 31, 2007
Updated 03:05 p.m., August 31, 2007
Charleston Post-Courier


Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, left, and Ahmed Abdellatif Sheriff Mohamed, 24,

Two Egyptian students at the University of South Florida were indicted Friday for carrying explosive materials across states lines and one of them was charged with teaching the other how to use them for violent reasons.

Ahmed Abdellatif Sheriff Mohamed, 24, an engineering graduate student and teaching assistant at the Tampa-based university, faces federal terrorism charges for teaching and demonstrating how to use the explosives.

He and Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, an engineering student, were stopped for speeding in Goose Creek on Aug. 4, where they have been held on state charges.

Berkeley County sheriff's investigators charged the men with possession of explosives on Aug. 6 after the investigators found what they said were pipe bombs in the trunk of Megahed's car after Megahed was stopped for speeding in Goose Creek on the evening of Aug. 4.

The two men are currently being held at the Berkeley County Detention Center on $300,000 bail for Megahed and $500,000 bail for Mohamed.

The indictment alleges that the two men, "not being licensees" under federal law, "did knowingly transport and cause to be transported in interstate commerce explosive materials" on or about Aug. 4, 2007 in the Middle District of Florida and elsewhere.

The charge of distributing information about explosive devices carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and the charge of transporting explosive materials carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.


MIM: The Egyptian embassy will pay for defense of USF student Mohamed who was charged with terrorism while in Egypt.

Charges filed against USF pair

The students face explosives charges after a stop in South Carolina last month.

By COLLEEN JENKINS, Times Staff Writer
Published September 1, 2007

St Petersberg Times

TAMPA - Two University of South Florida students have been indicted on federal explosives charges, four weeks after their arrest following a traffic stop near a naval base in South Carolina.

Ahmed Mohamed, a civil engineering graduate student and teaching assistant from Egypt, faces the most serious charge, demonstrating how to make explosives for use in violent crimes.

The indictment, unsealed Friday, cites a terrorism statute, but a federal spokesman said terrorism activity was not a focus of the case.

"At this point, we would not characterize it as a terrorism case," said Steve Cole, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa. "We would classify it as an explosives case."

A grand jury in Tampa handed up the indictment. It charges Mohamed and Youssef Megahed, an undergraduate engineering student, with transporting explosives in interstate commerce without permits, a crime that carries up to 10 years in prison.

Also on Friday, USF announced it had suspended both men on a provisional basis because they may have violated school rules.

The students remain jailed in Berkeley County, S.C. They were detained Aug. 4 on state explosives charges after a deputy pulled them over, accused Mohamed of speeding, then found "several pipe bombs" in the car's trunk, according to the arrest affidavit.

The men consented to the search. Initial news accounts said they told deputies they had fireworks in the trunk; Megahed's family said he had planned a road trip to see the Carolina coasts.

A prosecutor described the men as dangerous and flight risks. Bail for Megahed, 21, was set at $300,000. Bail for Mohamed, whom records list as 24 or 26 years old, was set at $500,000.

Government officials have not provided specifics on the contents of the trunk or what they believe the students planned to do with the explosives they are accused of carrying across state lines.

The indictment accuses Mohamed of teaching how to make explosives between June and Aug. 4 but does not say with whom he shared the information.

Tampa lawyer John Fitzgibbons, a former federal prosecutor who is not involved in the case, described the indictment as "bizarre."

"They snuck in a statute referencing terrorists," he said. "This is as bizarre an indictment as I've ever seen because, on the one hand, the press release from the Department of Justice says nothing about terrorism, yet there is an obscure reference in the indictment to a very significant terrorism statute."

Fitzgibbons also found it strange that the government hasn't revealed the contents of the trunk.

"This case could be something significant or it could be a tempest in a teapot," he said. "I cannot understand why the government refuses to tell the public."

Attorneys for both studentssaid they knew the investigation had shifted to Tampa after FBI investigators seized items from a Temple Terrace rental home where Mohamed had dropped off some personal belongings in anticipation of moving.

Megahed's parents allowed the FBI to search their New Tampa home. Investigators removed computers from the family home.

But as of Friday, the attorneys said they still had not seen evidence to support the charges.

"They certainly don't have the appearances to me of being terrorists," said Andrew Savage, who represents Megahed.

The men likely will make a first appearance in court to enter a plea to the charges in South Carolina sometime next week before being transferred here for trial, Cole said. Their attorneys said they will plead not guilty.

A court date is set for Sept. 21 on the state possession charges. Savage suspects those will be dropped before prosecutors have to give defense attorneys any investigative materials.

Ahmed Bedier, executive director of Tampa's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, testified before the grand jury Wednesday about how he knew the two students.

The grand jury ordered DNA and hair samples from Megahed.

Bedier said Friday that the Muslim community was concerned about the serious charges and eager to learn more about the allegations.

"Evidence doesn't lie," Bedier said. "Evidence will also lead to the truth."

USF spokesman Ken Gullette said Megahed is a permanent resident of the United States. Mohamed passed federal homeland security screenings before coming to the university in January on a student visa, Gullette said.

The men were informed by letter two weeks ago that they are not allowed to enroll in courses or participate in campus activities until they provide proof that they did not violate regulations by possessing an explosive device, Gullette said.

He stressed that no connection has been made between the school and any alleged criminal activity. "It's not something that we would condone if it's true," he said.

Attorney Lionel Lofton said the Egyptian Embassy hired him this week to represent Mohamed. His client faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of distributing information about building and using and explosive device.

Savage was with Megahed's family in South Carolina when they learned about the indictment Friday afternoon. They were dismayed and perplexed by the news, he said.

They had just left a visit with Megahed at the rural jail, where the Muslim family sat together in a chapel, surrounded by pictures of Jesus.

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