Tampa student charged with bomb making says they're only sugar-made fireworks


Published: Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 3:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 3:01 p.m.

TAMPA, Fla. - A University of South Florida student charged with trying to aid terrorists said the explosives found in his possession were just fireworks that could only travel a few feet in the air, according to a court filing.

Ahmed Mohamed, an Egyptian national, said he made the fireworks, called "sugar rockets," because it was cheaper than buying them at a roadside stand, the defense filing said.

Mohamed and Youssef Megahed were arrested in South Carolina in early August after deputies found what they described as pipe bombs in the car driven by Mohamed. The men were charged in a federal indictment with illegally transporting explosives.

Mohamed was also charged with trying to aid terrorists by demonstrating the use of explosives in a video posted to the Web site YouTube. Prosecutors said Mohamed showed how to use a remote-controlled toy to detonate a bomb in the video.

Mohamed told investigators that he became interested in fireworks just before July 4 when he noticed their availability as part of the holiday celebrations, public defender Adam Allen wrote.

Mohamed told authorities the devices "did not explode, but traveled a few feet into the air and would make smoke."

Mohamed said he went to YouTube to learn how to make the sugar rockets, and had ignited them before his arrest.

Megahed unsuccessfully sought a separate trial, claiming the terrorism-related charges against Mohamed would prejudice the jury against him.

Allen filed a petition Friday for reconsideration of the decision by U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday to deny a separate trial. The trial is set for March.

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