Why is this being treated as a "local law enforcement" issue? Should this be a terrorism issue handled by the Feds? They get pulled over and local police find pvc pipe, potassium nitrate, gasoline, safety fuse, etc. Then combine that with the videos. Sounds like Jihadists in training to me. Yet they're being treated like 2 good ol' boys from the South that are cought with some moonshine and a few roman candles around the 4th of July.
By ELAINE SILVESTRINI The Tampa Tribune
Published: Sep 15, 2007
TAMPA - A laptop computer deputies found when they pulled over two University of South Florida students in South Carolina contained a video made by one of the men showing how to use a toy to detonate a bomb remotely, a federal prosecutor said Friday.
On that video, the student, Ahmed Mohamed, said the detonator could "save one who wants to be a martyr for another day, another battle," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hoffer said.
The prosecutor said that video was posted by Mohamed on YouTube, a popular Web site.
Also on the laptop were "jihadi" images and footage of rockets used by Hamas, Hoffer said.
Although a judge granted bail for the other student, Youssef Megahed, prosecutors immediately appealed, delaying his release until at least next week. Mohamed waived his right to a bail hearing.
Hoffer disclosed the computer evidence Friday as he laid out the prosecution's case that Megahed should be denied bail because he is a danger to the community and a flight risk.
U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Jenkins ruled Megahed could be released on $200,000 bail if he meets a number of strict conditions, including what amounts to house arrest. "I do agree he poses a danger, no question about that, based on what was found in the car," Jenkins said. She also said the government failed to demonstrate a specific danger to the community, as required by law.
Hoffer acknowledged under questioning from the judge that he had no specific evidence of Megahed's intentions. Hoffer said that under the current charge, Megahed likely faces less than three years in prison if convicted.
A defense attorney maintained his client was not dangerous and that he has strong ties to the community and no record of violence. The federal courtroom was packed with Megahed's family members and friends, and Jenkins said she had received numerous letters in Megahed's support.
Neither the defense nor the prosecution presented sworn testimony during the hearing.
Megahed's public defender, Adam Allen, said there was no evidence his client made or saw the video that prosecutors said Mohamed made.
Both defendants are Egyptian citizens. Megahed is a legal, permanent resident of the Unites States, and Mohamed is here on a student visa.
Hoffer said that when deputies in South Carolina pulled the pair over for speeding on Aug. 4, they saw Megahed, who was the passenger, trying to put away the laptop computer that belonged to Mohamed. When investigators analyzed the computer, they found that the last-viewed images showed Qassam rockets, which are used by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Also on the computer were videos of discussions of martyrdom and videos showing the firing of M-16 rifles, Hoffer said.
In the trunk, deputies found four small sections of PVC pipe, at least three of which were stuffed with a "potassium nitrate explosive mixture" of potassium nitrate, Karo syrup and kitty litter, Hoffer said. He said the kitty litter served as a binder to keep the substance from coming out of the pipes, which were not capped.
Investigators also found a container of gasoline, 20 feet of safety fuse and an electric drill, which Hoffer said could be used to drill holes in the pipe so fuses could be attached.
"Obviously, that raised the hackles of law enforcement in South Carolina," Hoffer said. "That's why we're here."