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Youssef Megahed returns as a student to USF

TAMPA — Youssef Megahed has accomplished one goal as a free man: He once again is an active student at the University of South Florida.

On Wednesday, school officials confirmed his status as a current student for the fall semester.

"Decisions on readmission of former USF students are made by the appropriate academic authorities and conduct reviews," a university statement read. Citing federal privacy laws, administrators declined to discuss any other academic information about Megahed, who is 23.

The engineering student won his release from federal custody on Friday when an immigration judge refused to deport him on terrorism charges after a weeklong hearing in Miami-Dade County.

Standing with his family moments after being set free, Megahed said returning to USF and becoming a U.S. citizen were the two things he looked forward to most.

"He's a free man, and I'm happy to hear that he's back," said Ramzy Kilic, executive director for the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Kilic said the group had been monitoring Megahed's situation to see whether USF rejected his request to return.

Megahed was one class shy of graduating when he and Ahmed Mohamed were stopped for speeding on Aug. 4, 2007, in Goose Creek, S.C. They were arrested after deputies found PVC pipes filled with a potassium nitrate mixture in their trunk.

The discovery led to explosives charges against the pair and a federal investigation that caused the deportation of USF graduate Karim Moussaoui, who violated his student visa by posing with a rifle at a gun range he visited with Megahed.

Mohamed is serving a 15-year sentence for providing material support to terrorists. He pleaded guilty to the charge after investigators discovered he posted a YouTube video showing how to turn a child's toy into a remote control detonator.

A jury acquitted Megahed in April for illegal transportation of explosive materials and possession of a destructive device. Three days later, immigration officials arrested him for deportation.

The FBI accused Megahed and Mohamed of forming a terrorist cell. Megahed maintained his innocence from the beginning.

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

Youssef Megahed returns as a student to USF 08/26/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 11:12pm]
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