Fireworks Kids – New Indictment Charges

Ahmed Mohamed has been charged with seven new crimes and Youssef Megahed  has another charge added to his indictment. The new charges range from gun possession to aiding terrorists. The defense if calling a bluff on the prosecution. We’ll see, but I think more will be coming out once the trials get underway… Don’t forget CAIR even dropped its support of these two terrorists.

TAMPA – Twelve days before they were scheduled to go on trial, two former University of South Florida students are facing new charges handed up by a federal grand jury.

The new seven-count indictment adds terrorism and weapons charges against one of the defendants, Ahmed Mohamed. It also includes a new charge against Mohamed and Youssef Megahed relating to the devices found in the trunk of their car when they were arrested Aug. 4 in South Carolina. It replaces a two-count indictment handed up last year.

Experts say the new indictment shows the prosecution trying to ensure success at trial by offering jurors alternative avenues to convict.

Stetson University College of Law professor Charles Rose said that when prosecutors do this, it usually means there is “either a weakness in the case they’re shoring up or additional evidence has come their way.”

The indictment, Rose said, “reads to me like a prosecutor has now had an opportunity to develop some additional evidence and has figured how to make it stick.”

“When you look at this indictment, there’s more holes than cheese,” said Jonathan Turley, who teaches at George Washington University Law School and who is currently representing former USF professor Sami Al-Arian in his terrorism case. “The indictment on its face seems to be a bit of overreaching based on the known facts. The indictment presents a far more sinister picture than what has been reported publicly.

“When it comes to explosive devices, the government has a long history of creative engineering theories,” Turley added. “If you take any house at random, the government can usually make out a case for a potential explosive device based on its contents.”

Some of the new charges against Mohamed are similar to a charge lodged against another former USF student, Karim Moussaoui, who was recently convicted of possessing a firearm in violation of his student visa. The charge, which carries a maximum of ten years in prison, relates to an incident in which Moussaoui visited a Tampa firing range with Megahed and held a gun for 2 1/2 minutes, posing for pictures.

Another Gun Violation Alleged

Prosecutors have alleged that Mohamed, who is also on a student visa, visited the same firing range on another date in July. Megahed is a legal, permanent resident and is allowed to possess a firearm.

“Moussaoui’s conviction was viewed as laughable by most defense attorneys,” Turley said. “Most prosecutors would never have charged that crime, never mind have forced a trial. The prosecutors are simply trying too hard in these cases to come up with anything that can be viewed as a crime.”

Megahed and Mohamed are scheduled to go on trial April 28 on one of the charges, illegally transporting explosives. Mohamed is scheduled to have a separate trial on a charge he tried to help terrorists by posting on the Internet a video in which he showed how to use a remote-controlled toy to detonate a bomb.

Defense attorneys disagreed on whether the new indictment should affect the trial schedule, with Megahed’s lawyer expecting no effect and Mohamed’s lawyer expecting a delay.

Megahed and Mohamed both are newly charged in the indictment with possessing a destructive device. The new indictment also includes the charge from the previous indictment of transporting explosive materials.

New Charge Of Aiding Terrorists

Mohamed also is newly charged with providing material support to terrorists, and possessing a pistol and a rifle in violation of visa guidelines. The new indictment also contains the charge in the previous indictment against Mohamed of teaching and demonstrating the use of explosives with the intent to help terrorists.

One new charge against Mohamed accuses him of carrying a destructive device while providing material support to terrorists on Aug. 4, the day of the men’s arrest. Attorneys have said that the video Mohamed is accused of posting on YouTube had been removed by that day. It’s unclear how prosecutors think Mohamed was helping terrorists on that date. That is the most serious charge in the indictment, carrying up to a life sentence.

Megahed’s attorney, Adam Allen, said the new indictment will have little effect on his client.

The new charge, he said, is the same as the old charge, and both carry a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a minimum of probation.

The new indictment, he said, “shows that after a year of investigation by the FBI, they have absolutely no new evidence of any wrongdoing by my client.”

Reporter Elaine Silvestrini can be reached at (813) 259-7837 or esilvestrini@tampatrib.com.

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