High bonds set in Mus­lim col­lege stu­dents’ ‘pipe bombs’ case

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Au­drey Hud­son

Two col­lege stu­dents from Kuwait and Egypt caught speed­ing on a South Carolina high­way are be­ing held on nearly $1 mil­lion in bond af­ter three as­sem­bled pipe bombs were dis­cov­ered in their car.

Univer­sity of South Florida stu­dents Ahmed Abda Sherf Mohamed, 24, and Yousef Samir Me­ga­hed, 21, are be­ing held in Berke­ley County on charges of pos­ses­sion of ex­plo­sive de­vices, a felony that car­ries a 15year prison sen­tence.

Bomb squads were called in to det­o­nate the ex­plo­sives, forc­ing a nine-hour shut­down of U.S. High­way 176 near Goose Creek. There, a naval weapons sta­tion houses the U.S. Naval Con­sol­i­dated Brig — a mil­i­tary prison where en­emy com­bat­ants are some­times held.

A judge on Aug. 6 or­dered bond be set at $500,000 for Mr. Mohamed, who ad­mit­ted to as­sem­bling the de­vices, and $300,000 for Mr. Me­ga­hed.

One law-en­force­ment of­fi­cial said the de­vices were “ob­vi­ously pipe bombs.” They were found in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions of the car driven by Mr. Mohamed.

Of­fi­cers also found po­tas­sium chlo­rate and sugar, which when com­bined with a cat­a­lyst cre­ate an in­stant fire in a spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion, the ABC News Blotter re­ported.

In ad­di­tion, a can of gaso­line, PVC pipe, four hobby store brand rocket launch­ers and hobby store brand fuses were found. The four PVC pipes con­tained an un­known sub­stance. A lap­top com­puter, GPS unit and cel­lu­lar phones were also col­lected as ev­i­dence. The lap­top com­puter was sent to the FBI lab at Quan­tico, Va., for anal­y­sis, ABC re­ported.

“The of­fi­cer was con­cerned in his en­counter with th­ese two in­di­vid­u­als based on their in­con­sis­tent state­ments they made,” a sec­ond law-en­force­ment of­fi­cial told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Ahmed Bedier, spokesman for the Florida chap­ter of the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can Is­lamic Re­la­tions (CAIR), said dur­ing an Aug. 6 press con­fer­ence that there is no ev­i­dence the men are in league with ter­ror­ists, and he sug­gested the car’s con­tents were to be used for fire­works.

“Most peo­ple will tell you if th­ese were some good old boys from South Carolina trav­el­ing through the high­way of that county and get­ting pulled over and hav­ing some fire­works, I doubt that it would make news around the world,” Mr. Bedier said.

“No acts of ter­ror­ism are al­leged; that is not even an is­sue.”

A spokesman for the FBI said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing.

Pros­e­cu­tor Scar­lett Wil­son asked for a high bond, which the sec­ond law-en­force­ment of­fi­cial said was in­dica­tive of the se­ri­ous­ness of the items found in the 2000 Toy­ota Camry. Miss Wil­son did not re­turn a call for com­ment.

Of­fi­cers be­came sus­pi­cious be­cause the men quickly put away a lap­top com­puter and would not say what they were do­ing there or where they were headed.

A Univer­sity of South Florida spokesman said Mr. Mohamed is a civil en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate stu­dent who started in Jan­uary. He earned his un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in Cairo and was in the U.S. on a stu­dent visa.

Mr. Me­ga­hed, who has per­ma­nent U.S. res­i­dent sta­tus, has been an un­der­grad­u­ate at the univer­sity since 2004.

This ar­ti­cle is based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports.



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