Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FBI agent says Megahed remains a threat to U.S.

MIAMI — Former University of South Florida student Youssef Megahed still poses a threat to the United States, an FBI agent said Tuesday during a deportation hearing.

While Megahed was acquitted in April of transporting and possessing explosives, FBI Special Agent Frederick Humphries II told an immigration judge that he still considers Megahed to be dangerous.

Initially asked by a defense attorney what he thought Megahed would do if released, Humphries said: "I don't have a Ouija board or a crystal ball to determine what he would do."

But when pressed later by a government attorney, Humphries said the investigation's evidence led him to conclude that Megahed remains a threat.

Federal prosecutors once considered charging Megahed and two other men with conspiracy to commit terrorism, Humphries said.

But the Justice Department decided the burden of proof was too high to sustain the charge against Megahed, Ahmed Mohamed and a third man, said Humphries, supervisor of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the FBI's Tampa Division.

Mohamed is in prison after pleading guilty to providing material support to terrorists.

"We felt that Mr. Megahed was willingly providing assistance to Mr. Mohamed, who is a self-professed terrorist," Humphries said.

The third person investigated was Ahmad Ishtay, a friend of Megahed's and Mohamed's. Ishtay and Mohamed had been cited by police for using a pellet gun to shoot squirrels in a Tampa park.

Humphries said the FBI believed Megahed was using his legal permanent resident status to buy guns and ammunition and obtain a gun range membership. Investigators recovered footage from a camcorder in Ishtay's Temple Terrace bedroom that showed tightly focused shots of the Florida Aquarium, pillars along the Howard Frankland Bridge and airliners approaching Tampa International Airport, Humphries said. He likened the recordings to footage typically shot by terrorists who are scouting locations.

Megahed and Mohamed spent time researching terrorist activity and Qassam rockets, Humphries said.

The FBI pushed "vigorously" for an indictment against Ishtay, he added. Ishtay was never charged with a crime and has since left the country.

Megahed and Mohamed were charged with illegal transportation of explosive materials and possession of a destructive device after a traffic stop in Goose Creek, S.C., on Aug. 4, 2007. Authorities found PVC pipes filled with potassium nitrate and a fuse, which Mohamed called homemade sugar rockets.

Mohamed later pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists. The FBI uncovered a YouTube video on his laptop that he posted online, demonstrating how to turn a child's remote-control car into a detonator.

Megahed, 23, was acquitted of the transportation and possession charge.

Despite that, Humphries said he has ruled out the possibility that Megahed is innocent. He called the PVC pipes "baby Qassam rockets" and said he had a concern that Mohamed might begin building larger rockets.

The government is trying to prove that Megahed has or will likely engage in terrorist activity and should therefore be deported to Egypt.

"If there's any fantasy, it's that Mr. Megahed Forrest Gumped his way through Mohamed's road trip," Humphries said.

Immigration Judge Kenneth Hurewitz called it "the most significant part" that federal prosecutors never indicted Megahed on a terrorism conspiracy charge.

At the start of Tuesday's hearing, Hurewitz lashed out at the Homeland Security attorneys for continuing to focus on Mohamed. The judge said he hadn't seen any evidence that Mohamed shared his extreme views — which the government has often called anti-American — with Megahed.

"Because you keep blocking me from letting in any evidence," government attorney Gina Garrett-Jackson told the judge.

Defense attorney Charles Kuck repeatedly renewed his objection to all the government's evidence. He asked the judge to "stop this farce" or rule on the admissibility of the government's documents and Humphries' testimony.

"I'm going to decide if it's relevant by hearing it," Hurewitz said.

FBI agent says Megahed remains a threat to U.S. 08/18/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]