USF grad pleads not guilty

By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published January 23, 2008

TAMPA - A former University of South Florida student with ties to Youssef Megahed and Ahmed Mohamed pleaded innocent to a weapons charge at an arraignment Tuesday.

Karim Moussaoui, 28, was indicted Jan. 10 on a charge of violating his student visa by posing for a photograph at a gun range with a firearm in his hand. Federal law bans people with student visas from possessing firearms.

Moussaoui remains free on bail. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Pizzo said that Moussaoui could go to trial as early as March.

Megahed, 21, and Mohamed, 26, are suspended USF students in jail awaiting trial on federal explosives charges.

Just days before Moussaoui graduated from USF in December, FBI agents arrested him inside his Tampa campus dorm.

At Moussaoui's initial appearance hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Scriven ordered Moussaoui released on a $50,000 signature bond and imposed several restrictions. At the time, Scriven ordered Moussaoui to find an apartment within two weeks so he could be electronically monitored on home detention.

Stephen Crawford, Moussaoui's attorney, said he was able to find a place to live and comply with the judge's orders within a week.

Moussaoui's parents, Hamou and Zekkari Anissa Moussaoui, had come from Morocco to see their son graduate but ended up co-signing for his release.

Crawford said Hamou Moussaoui delayed his return home after his son's graduation to help Karim Moussaoui find a place in Tampa to live.

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