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Megahed often visited man convicted on terrorism charges, court told

TAMPA — Ahmed Mohamed continues to figure prominently in his friend's federal explosives trial.

His former landlord testified Friday in court about once seeing Mohamed and another man carry a 2 1/2 foot model rocket, possibly made from PVC pipe, out of her Tampa home.

Paulette Poliquin also said she recognized former University of South Florida student Youssef Megahed, the defendant, as a frequent visitor to her home. But she couldn't identify him as the man who helped Mohamed with the model rocket she described.

Megahed, 23, is on trial for illegal transportation of explosive materials and illegal possession of a destructive device. He and Mohamed were arrested Aug. 4, 2007, when a deputy stopped them for speeding in Goose Creek, S.C., and found PVC pipes stuffed with a potassium nitrate mixture in the trunk. Megahed denies knowing the 4-inch PVC pipes were in the vehicle.

Mohamed, a former engineering doctoral student at USF, "wasn't a good tenant," she said, and often had visitors late at night. She asked him to leave after he'd rented a room from her for two months.

Mohamed was arrested a day after he moved out. He's serving a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to providing material support to terrorists. He admitted posting a YouTube video showing how to turn a remote control toy into a detonator. Mohamed told investigators the video was to aid potential enemies of the United States.

Poliquin said she never saw the rocket again. She didn't recall Mohamed bringing materials inside her house to make it, but described it as "homemade."

FBI agents questioned her about Mohamed after his arrest, she said. They also removed carpet and furniture from the room Mohamed rented.

Megahed's attorney, Adam Allen, has described the PVC pipes recovered by South Carolina investigators as sugar rockets or homemade fireworks.

Megahed's trial resumes Monday.

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

Megahed often visited man convicted on terrorism charges, court told 03/20/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 21, 2009 12:07am]
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