Photographed with gun, former student indicted

Possessing a firearm violates a student visa. The 28-year-old is free on $50,000 bond.

By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published January 11, 2008

TAMPA - A former University of South Florida student was indicted Thursday on a weapons charge in a case with ties to that of Youssef Megahed and Ahmed Mohamed.

Karim Moussaoui, 28, was arrested in December inside his dorm room on a charge that he violated his student visa by posing for a photograph at a gun range with a firearm in his hand. Federal law prohibits those with student visas from possessing firearms.

A federal criminal complaint was filed in November. The federal grand jury indictment formally charges Moussaoui with a crime.

A judge ordered him released from custody at a Dec. 14 hearing on a $50,000 signature bond. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Scriven placed several restrictions on the condition of his release.

Moussaoui graduated from USF in December. The judge ordered that he move into his own apartment within two weeks to begin electronic monitoring. She also prohibited him from returning to his homeland of Morocco, where he had planned to move after finishing school.

Federal prosecutors said they found the photograph of Moussaoui on Youssef Megahed's computer. Megahed, 21, and Ahmed Mohamed, 26, both suspended USF students, are in jail awaiting trial on federal explosives charges. They have been in custody since Aug. 4, when a South Carolina deputy stopped them for speeding near a naval base and found what experts described as incomplete pipe bombs in their trunk.

Megahed and Mohamed said they were sugar rockets.

Both men are charged with illegally transporting explosive materials. Mohamed faces an additional charge of demonstrating how to make an explosive device. Investigators said he narrated a YouTube video on turning a child's toy into a detonator.

Stephen Crawford, Moussaoui's attorney, downplayed the charge in December, calling it a "relatively minor offense."

Crawford said Thursday's indictment came as no surprise.

"My client cooperated with federal law enforcement officers for over four months," Crawford said. "When we declined further interviews, they arrested us."

Moussaoui remains free on bond and is scheduled for arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Pizzo on Jan. 22. Megahed and Mohamed are scheduled to go to trial as early as March.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or 813 226-3433.