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Father: USF student no terrorist
His son and another man face explosives charges after a traffic stop in South Carolina.
Published September 3, 2007
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. - The family of a college student accused of transporting explosives across state lines along with another man facing a terrorism-related charge says their son is not a terrorist.
"It's killing me," Samir Megahed said Saturday of the charges against his son. "We have no charge like this in my family for 400 years. It's killing all my family in Egypt."
Megahed spoke to the (Charleston) Post and Courier and the Tampa Tribune after visiting his son Youssef at the Berkeley County Detention Center.
Youssef Megahed and Ahmed Mohamed, both students at the University of South Florida and both from Egypt, were indicted Friday by a federal grand jury in Florida on a charge of transporting explosives in interstate commerce without permits, which carries a 10-year prison penalty.
Mohamed also was charged with distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction, which is a terrorism-related statute, a Justice Department official said. The crime carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Samir Megahed, 60, said his family didn't know Mohamed and that his son his not a terrorist.
"They want us to say what they want to hear," the father said of federal authorities investigating the case. "They want the stories they have in mind. It's all in their imagination."
The elder Megahed, a civil engineer, said he and his family came to the United States from Egypt 10 years ago. They live in the Tampa area. Samir Megahed said his son is close to graduating from the University of South Florida with a degree in mechanical engineering.
"If he was a white man and not from the Middle East, I'm sorry, he would not be here today," Samir Megahed said.
Megahed was driving with Mohamed through Goose Creek on Aug. 4 when their car was stopped for speeding. The officer found pipe bombs in their car and they have been held on state explosives charges while the FBI continued to investigate whether there was a terrorism link.
Samir Megahed said the family was expecting an upcoming hearing on state charges would clear the men.
Samir Megahed said he told the FBI to go in his house "and look around, and if you find something, take it." He said FBI agents seized a $19 remote-control boat Youssef bought at Wal-Mart for his younger brother, Yassien.
Samir Megahed said 11-year-old Yassien has mangled fingers from a surgery and was using the joy stick on the remote to improve his fingers' flexibility and control.
It was likely a Wal-Mart shopping excursion that put his thrifty son on the road where he was stopped, Samir Megahed said.
"He would spend 10 cents more in gas to pay 2 cents less" at Wal-Mart, Samir Megahed said. He said his son often punched in the locations of low-cost gas stations on his car's GPS.
Youssef Megahed remains in the Berkeley County Detention Center with his bail set at $300,000, though the state may drop its charges against the men because of the federal indictment.
"We have nothing to do now but wait," Samir Megahed said.