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The Goose Creek Two, Egypt, and national security

By Michelle Malkin  •  October 4, 2007 08:19 AM

goose creek megahed mohamed

The mystery of the Goose Creek Two continues to unravel. From the very beginning, the case smelled. Remember: “Fireworks?” Just fireworks. Just two innocent boys on a drive to the beach. Who just happened to be driving on an isolated road that leads to a naval station…which houses a military brig where enemy combatants are being held. Ho-hum.

When last we peeked in on the trial of the two accused bomb-transporter/builders, we learned about Ahmed Mohamed’s laptop containing jihad videos targeting American troops.


Here’s the latest. Note the special interest and activities of the Egyptian government in the case:

One suspended University of South Florida student pleaded not guilty Wednesday to illegally transporting explosives, while a second made plans to hire a prominent Tampa lawyer.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo accepted the “notguilty” plea of Youssef Megahed, 21. He postponed a hearing for fellow student Ahmed Mohamed, 26, until Oct. 17, when he is expected to also plead not guilty. The delay came at the request of defense attorney John Fitzgibbons, who is finalizing arrangements to represent Mohamed…As a condition of Youssef Megahed’s bail, his family had to give up its passports. A judge has said he could be released on $200,000 bail, but prosecutors objected. U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday will listen to those objections during a 1:30 p.m. hearing Friday.

Meanwhile, Fitzgibbons, a high-profile Tampa lawyer, asked for more time to enter Mohamed’s plea so he can finish arrangements with Egyptian Embassy officials hiring him to represent Mohamed.

CAIR is still in the middle of it all:

Ahmed Bedier, director of the Central Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, wondered if Fitzgibbons’ involvement signaled a possible plea deal for Mohamed.

“Usually if a person wants to cut a deal, Fitzgibbons is the man for it,” Bedier said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hoffer said in court that the evidence against the pair was not complex. Pizzo set a tentative trial date as early as Dec. 3. But Fitzgibbons said that’s unlikely. He anticipates it taking longer to review the evidence and contact experts to testify.

Both men sat in court Wednesday, shackled at the feet and separated by their attorneys. They wore orange jumpsuits like most county jail defendants, but the beards they both have worn since their arrests were gone.

“I wouldn’t read anything into that,” Fitzgibbons said.

Tampa Bay 10 notes the unusual involvement of the Egyptian government, too:

While it may seem odd the Egyptian government is paying for the defense of Ahmed Mohamed, especially when you see the homes in his neighborhood, high profile attorney John Fitzgibbons says he doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t think it is unusual that a foreign government employs a lawyer,” Fitzgibbons says. “It happens all the time.”

In going after Fitzgibbons, Mohamed will have one of the best. The former assistant U.S. Attorney has been successful in a number of high profile cases. He was successful in keeping teacher Deborah LaFave out of jail after she was convicted of having sex with one of her students.

Fitzgibbons also got a not guilty verdict for Lawrence Storer, who chased and killed a robber who had fled his restaurant.

Meanwhile, as you probably heard, TSA is now screening remote-controlled toys:

People carrying remote-controlled toys in carry-on luggage should expect additional screening at the nation’s airports, according to an advisory released Monday by the Transportation Security Administration.

The advisory is not related to any incident or threat, according to TSA officials, who suggested travelers with these toys allow extra time before boarding. A “secondary screening” takes about three to four minutes.

“We always want to be at least one step ahead of an adaptive terrorist,” TSA Miami spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said. “We train our officers in looking at common devices.”

One of two University of South Florida students arrested recently in South Carolina has been indicted on a federal charge related to an Internet video posting showing him modifying a remote-controlled toy car, prosecutors have said.

Christopher White, a TSA spokesman in Washington, D.C., did not specifically identify the student’s video as a concern in crafting the advisory. “A number of factors came together on this, including open-source information and classified channels,” White said.

A federal indictment unsealed Aug. 31 charges engineering students Ahmed Mohamed, 26, and Youssef Megahed, 21, with transporting explosives without a permit and Mohamed with trying to help terrorists by teaching or demonstrating the use of explosives.

That charge stems from a video that Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hoffer says Mohamed acknowledged posting to the YouTube Web site in which he shows how to turn a remote-controlled toy car into a bomb detonator. On the video, Mohamed says the detonator could “save one who wants to be a martyr for another day, another battle,” Hoffer said.

Coinky-dinky? Methinks not.

Posted in: Goose Creek

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Categories: Goose Creek