Fireworks Kids Indicted

Ahmed Mohamed and Youssef Megahed have been indicted for terrorism related charges.

Megahed has been indicted for  “transporting explosives in interstate commerce without permits”, while Mohamed is charged with this in addition to “distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction”.

The four week investigation included searches of several locations in Florida including a storage facility.

So much for the theory it was just fireworks and they were on the way to the beach…

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 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.

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

The two men were stopped with pipe bombs in their car near a Navy base in South Carolina where enemy combatants have been held. They were held on state charges while the FBI continued to investigate whether there was a terrorism link.

Mohamed was charged with distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, which is a terrorism-related statute, a Justice Department official said. The crime carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.

He and Megahed both face with charges of transporting explosives in interstate commerce without permits, which carries a 10-year prison penalty. Their defense attorney, Andy Savage, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The indictment was handed up in Tampa, Fla.

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 county legally on student visas, officials said.

Update from Michelle Maklin:

Update: The pdf of the three-page indictment is here. (Hat tip – Lawhawk). And Dan Riehl, who has followed the story closely, has a reminder about an “as yet un-identified individual said to have returned to Canada right after the initial arrest.”

Reax from the USAO in SC:

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.

And here’s the FBI’s full statement:

Two University of South Florida (USF) students have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Tampa, Florida, for transporting explosives materials without permits, the Department of Justice announced today.

The two-count indictment unsealed today charges Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed and Youssef Samir Megahed, both Egyptian nationals, with transporting explosives in interstate commerce without permits. 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.

Mohamed was also charged with distributing information about building and using an explosive device. The indictment alleges that Mohamed taught and demonstrated the making and use of an explosive and destructive device, with the intent that such information be used for, and in the furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a federal crime of violence.

Mohamed, a civil engineering graduate student and teaching assistant at USF, and Megahed, an engineering student, were stopped for speeding and subsequently arrested on Aug. 4, 2007 in Goose Creek, S.C. by a South Carolina Berkeley County Sheriff’s deputy. Both Mohamed and Megahed were charged with possession of an explosive device, in violation of South Carolina law. Bond was set for Mohamed in the amount of $500,000 and for Megahead in the amount of $300,000. Both men are currently being held in Berkeley County jail.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 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.

Reginald I. Lloyd, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department and the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office in South Carolina. “I am very grateful for the hard work and professionalism of our local law enforcement partners in this important investigation. The arresting deputy’s vigilance and the immediate response of our local investigators and prosecutors are highly commendable.”

This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, with the assistance of the National Security Division at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in both Tampa and South Carolina, with the assistance of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.

***
goose11.jpg

Just yesterday, I told you about federal grand jury investigating the Goose Creek case asking for DNA and hair samples from one of the suspects. Now, the mystery unclouds further. Via AP breaking news: (Hat tip-reader William A.)

Two University of South Florida men indicted on charges of carrying explosives across state lines; one indicted on terror charges.

Stand by for more…

Bit more detail:

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.

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

***
Background:

Aug. 30: Mystery at Goose Creek update: Federal grand jury investigates
Aug. 12: Mystery at Goose Creek: Who are the accused Pipe Bomb Boys? Update: Yahia Megahed’s Hi5 profile is gone
Aug. 5: Saturday night bomb scare Update: Map added Update: Sunday developments Update: Monday follow-up…charges filed

Rusty at The Jawa Report mused about the other possible terror plot yesterday.

Posted in: Jihadists

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