tampabay.com

Family meets with accused USF student

The man's family worried about his safety in the S.C. jail because of what he's accused of.

By ABBIE VANSICKLE, Times Staff Writer
Published August 11, 2007


TAMPA - The family of Youssef Megahed, one of two University of South Florida students accused of carrying pipe bombs in his car trunk, met with him Friday inside the South Carolina jail where he is held.

"He's holding up," said Ahmed Bedier, after speaking by phone with Megahed's family. Bedier is the executive director of Tampa's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "He's not depressed. They talked about what's been happening. He's getting regular updates on the case."

Megahed, 21, and Ahmed A. Mohamed, who jail records show is either 24 or 26, were arrested a week ago in Goose Creek, S.C., a rural area near a naval base, on charges of possession of an explosive device, jail records show.

A deputy stopped the pair, accused them of driving 60 in a 45 mph zone.

The deputy searched the car and found what he believed was a pipe bomb in the trunk, according to an arrest affidavit. Bomb technicians confirmed his suspicions, jail records show.

Test results on the materials in the trunk have not been released.

A judge set bail for Mohamed, a graduate student from Egypt, at $500,000. Bail for Megahed, an undergraduate whose family lives in Tampa, at $300,000.

Megahed's family spoke publicly on Thursday and told reporters they believed their son was innocent.

He went on a road trip to see the Carolinas, they said, speaking at their New Tampa townhouse.

Later Thursday, the family piled into a minivan and drove to South Carolina.

They visited with Megahed for about 45 minutes on Friday, Bedier said.

Before the trip, Megahed's family had voiced concern over his safety in jail, particularly because of the charges he faces.

After seeing him, their fears were allayed, Bedier said. "They feel comfortable his safety is being looked after," he said.

The family brought Megahed a copy of the Koran and a prayer rug. Bedier said the family has never met Mohamed, but they brought him the same gifts.

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 813 226-3373 or vansickle@sptimes.com.