Students carrying explosives indicted
Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2007 at 11:55 p.m.
TAMPA - Two Egyptian students at the University of South Florida were indicted Friday on federal explosives charges, but prosecutors would not say whether the men planned to carry out an attack or hurt anyone.
Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24, an engineering graduate student and teaching assistant at the Tampa-based university, and engineering student Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, have been held in South Carolina since Aug. 4 when they were stopped for speeding and authorities found explosives in the trunk of their car.
They were indicted by a grand jury in Tampa on charges of carrying explosive materials across state lines. Mohammed also faces terrorism-related charges for teaching and demonstrating how to use the explosives.
Steve Cole, a spokesman for federal prosecutors in Tampa, declined to talk about what the men may have been planning, if anything.
"We expect more details may come out in their initial appearance, which will likely take place next week in Charleston, S.C., but we are making no further comment,'' Cole said.
The two men were stopped with pipe bombs in their car in Goose Creek, S.C., near a Navy base 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. However, prosecutors said weapons of mass destruction was not an element in the case.
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.
Since the 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 that the explosives were "other than fireworks.''
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article