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Prosecutors cite evidence of hatred by former USF student

TAMPA — Ahmed Mohamed called the United States a "vile nation" and on several occasions characterized Americans as "stupid people," prosecutors say in a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday in federal court.

In a letter dated April 1 to a Hillsborough County jail deputy, Mohamed "congratulated" the deputy on a recent Pentagon announcement that 4,000 U.S. troops had died in the Middle East, prosecutors said.

"Next to that line, he drew what appears to be a face with a smile on it," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hoffer wrote in the court filing, calling the handwritten note "the coldest statement of this defendant and the most telling as to his hatred and disdain for the United States."

Prosecutors hope U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday will take their memo into consideration on Friday before sentencing Mohamed, 27, who pleaded guilty in June to providing material support to terrorists.

The Egyptian national and former University of South Florida student faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Defense attorney Lyann Goudie declined comment until she has read the government's memo.

Mohamed and fellow student Youssef Megahed, 22, were arrested Aug. 4, 2007, in Goose Creek, S.C., after a deputy stopped them for speeding and found what experts described as low-grade explosives in the trunk. The men have said they were fireworks.

Prosecutors have said that in July 2007, Mohamed posted a video on YouTube that explained how to transform a toy remote-controlled car into a detonator. The 12-minute video is narrated by a man speaking Arabic with an Egyptian accent. The video's narrator says it's meant to "save one who wants to be a martyr for another day in battle."

Mohamed remains in custody while Megahed is out on bail. His trial on illegally transporting explosives materials has been delayed while prosecutors appeal a judge's decision to toss out some of the evidence against Megahed.

In Tuesday's court filing, Hoffer appeared to indicate that the prosecutions intends to present evidence at sentencing about "other criminal or bad acts" by Mohamed.

The sentencing memo shows that in Mohamed's application for a student visa in October 2006, he acknowledged that he had previously been arrested or convicted of an offense or crime. He admitted to a 2003 arrest in Egypt, where he was detained for more than four months, according to court records. Mohamed had insisted to FBI agents in South Carolina that he had been a political detainee, Hoffer said.

"During the course of his limited time in the United States, the defendant reflected a virulent anti-American attitude on repeated occasions," Hoffer wrote.

Prosecutors have presented no evidence on what they think Mohamed and Megahed intended to do with the explosive materials in the trunk.

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

Prosecutors cite evidence of hatred by former USF student 11/04/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 10, 2008 1:07pm]

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