TAMPA, Fla. – An Egyptian college student accused of making an Internet video demonstrating the construction of a detonator for terrorist bombs pleaded not guilty to federal charges Wednesday.
Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24, remained jailed on charges of distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction. His arraignment was set for Thursday.
Mohamed, an engineering student suspended by the University of South Florida, and another Egyptian student, Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, also are charged with carrying explosive materials across state lines.
They were arrested during an Aug. 5 traffic stop in Goose Creek, S.C., about 15 miles northwest of Charleston and near a Navy weapons station.
In the trunk of their car, according an FBI agent's statement, police found 20 feet of fuse, a box of .22-caliber bullets, a drill, several gallons of gasoline, PVC piping and gun powder.
The agent also said Mohamed's laptop contained a video he made demonstrating how to convert a remote-control toy into a detonator.
Mohamed said he made the video "to assist those persons in Arabic countries to defend themselves against the infidels invading their countries," according to the agent's statement. He said "he considered American troops, and those military forces fighting with the American military, to be invaders of Arab countries," the statement said.
The students told authorities they were carrying fireworks; Megahed's attorney now contends that his client didn't know anything about the items in the trunk.
Megahed is a permanent U.S. resident from Egypt and Mohamed is in the U.S. on a student visa
Mohamed's attorney, John Fitzgibbons, hired for him by the Egyptian government, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Megahed, represented by a federal public defender, pleaded not guilty earlier this month.
If convicted, Mohamed could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. Megahed faces up to 10 years.