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Two Egyptian Students Indicted in South Carolina

Update: On June 18, 2008, Ahmed Mohamed pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists in Federal Court in Tampa, Florida. In accordance with the plea agreement the government agreed to drop all other charges against Mohamed. Mohamed was sentenced to 15 years in prison on December 18, 2008. Youssef Samir Megahed was acquitted on all charges on April 3, 2009. Three days later, Megahed was arrested on immigration charges and put in jail again.  He faces deportation and could lose his permanent resident status if he is found to have violated immigration laws.

Posted: September 14, 2007

Two University of South Florida students have been indicted on charges of transporting explosives across state lines.  One of the students also faces terrorism-related charges.


Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24, and Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, were arrested on August 4, 2007, in Goose Creek, South Carolina, on speeding charges.  The Naval Weapons Station Charleston military base, where high-profile terrorism suspects have been detained in recent years, is located about seven miles from where the students were arrested.


Mohamed and Megahed, both Egyptian nationals with student visas, were initially indicted in South Carolina on state charges of possession of an explosive device. The state charges were dropped following the federal indictment charging the men with transporting explosives across state lines. Mohamed also faces terrorism-related charges for allegedly demonstrating how to use the explosives.


The indictment does not accuse either student of being a terrorist or of connections to any terrorist group.


After police officers pulled over the two men for speeding, they seized an electric drill, a 20 foot safety fuse, bullets, a five-gallon canister of gasoline and three pipe bombs filled with potassium nitrate, Karo syrup and cat litter from the car.  The explosive mixture in the pipe bombs meets the definition of a low-grade explosive, according to authorities.


Also seized from the car was a laptop computer, on which Internet searches on martyrdom, Hamas and Qassam rockets were reportedly made.  It also contained a 12-minute video, that Mohamed reportedly admitted to making, showing how to turn a remote-controlled toy car into a detonator.  In the video, Mohamed says that his reason for making the device is "to save one who wants to be a martyr for another battle."


During a search of Megahed's house, FBI agents found a .22 caliber rifle and two Egyptian passports; both passports had Megahed's picture, but one had a different surname. 


Megahed faces a maximum of ten years in prison if convicted.  Mohamed faces a maximum of thirty years in prison.  

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