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Goose Creek Arrests Result In Felony Charges; Prosecutor says Egyptian students had pipe bombs in car

(The Post and Courier) MONCKS CORNER — Two Florida students accused of having pipe bombs in the trunk of their car when they were pulled over in Goose Creek are “confused and scared,” their attorney said Monday.  Yousseff Megahed, 21, and Ahmed Mohamed, 26, both Egyptian citizens, were calm and polite in Berkeley County bond court. They were charged Monday with carrying explosive devices, which is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  The weekend arrest drew national attention, because the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig, a military prison where enemy combatants are held, and the Naval Weapons Station are nearby. An FBI spokesman said the two are not suspected of being part of a terrorist plot.  The leader of a Muslim advocacy group who has been talking with Megahed’s family said the two were heading to North Carolina to celebrate Mohamed’s birthday, which was Sunday.  “Family members are very concerned, shocked about what has developed,” said Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  The contents of the trunk might have been part of the celebration, he said.  Mohamed asked for a chance to speak at Monday’s bond hearing and said he was carrying fireworks in the trunk. Magistrate Ava Bryant Ayers reminded him that the bond hearing was to determine whether they were flight risks and not to talk about details of the charges.  Ayers set a $300,000 bond for Megahed and $500,000 for Mohamed. Solicitor Scarlett Wilson argued that the two were flight risks. A hearing on the charges is scheduled for Oct. 5.  An affidavit from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office said officers from the bomb squad determined that pipe bombs were in the trunk. Pipe bombs are homemade explosives, and making or having them is a felony.  Mohamed told the arresting officer he used materials he bought at a Wal-Mart, according to the affidavit.  The two were pulled over about 5:30 p.m. Saturday near U.S. Highway 176 and Myers Road in Goose Creek. Their attorney, Dennis Rhoad of Charleston, said he had not had a chance to ask them why they were in Goose Creek.  Rhoad said the pair understands the seriousness of the charges and that they are “confused and scared. … They take the charges seriously.” A Berkeley County deputy said he pulled over the 2000 Toyota Camry for going more than 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. Megahed was driving. Mohamed was using a laptop computer in the passenger’s seat and closed it when a deputy approached, Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said.  The deputy asked to search the car, and the two consented, DeWitt said. When the deputy asked if there was anything in the car he should be aware of, the men said there were fireworks in the trunk, DeWitt said.  The laptop, along with everything else seized from the car, was handed over to the FBI for processing, DeWitt said, declining to elaborate on what they seized or the specific materials found in the trunk.  The FBI also wasn’t saying anything definite about what they found. “Right now, we’re still in the investigative stages,” said Denise Taiste, an FBI spokeswoman in Columbia.  Both men are students at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  Megahed told the court he’s a full-time student working on a degree in mechanical engineering. He said he is a native of Egypt, has been in the United States for four years, is a legal resident and recently applied for American citizenship. He said his parents and brother and sister live in Tampa. He said he has been working at a mental health clinic while in school since the first of July. Before that, he worked at a Chevy car dealership and a Jiffy Lube, he said.  Mohamed said he also is an Egyptian citizen who has been in the United States since January. He said he is a teaching assistant at the university while working on his doctorate in civil engineering. He has no relatives in the United States, he said.

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August 7, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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