An Egyptian engineering student has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for his terror strike demo on YouTube. He had pleaded guilty to the charge.
Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 27 and a student at the University of South Florida, ad uploaded a 12-minute video that showed how to convert a remote-control toy car into a bomb detonator.
Defense attorneys had requested that Mohamed receive eight years in prison, the minimum penalty according to sentencing guidelines. Instead, he was given the maximum.
South Carolina authorities said they found various bomb-making materials in the vehicle he was driving when he was pulled over in August last year.
The search of the vehicle yielded several sections of PVC pipe containing a potassium nitrate mixture compacted between plugs of kitty litter and approximately 20 feet of safety fuse. These materials, which constitute "explosive materials," had been transported from Florida. Also in the trunk of the Toyota Camry were separate containers filled with several gallons of gasoline and a potassium nitrate mixture.
Subsequent FBI analysis of Defendant Mohamed's laptop computer recovered from the car disclosed a large number of file folders containing information relating to the manufacture and use of bombs, rockets, and other explosives, including several video recordings showing the use of such devices to attack and destroy manned United States military vehicles. The FBI analysis also disclosed the viewing history of the laptop computer prior to the time of the Goose Creek traffic stop. The last item played on the laptop computer, prior to the traffic stop, was a video recording relating to the use and firing of Qassam rockets in the Middle East.
Also on the hard drive of Mohamed's laptop computer was an audio/video recording, approximately twelve minutes in length, produced by Mohamed. In that recording, Defendant Mohamed personally demonstrated and explained, in Arabic, how a remote-control toy car could be disassembled and how the components of its chassis could be rewired and converted into a detonator for an explosive device. Sometime in July 2007, Mohamed had uploaded the aforementioned twelve-minute audio/video recording to the YouTube website. The recording was accessed hundreds of times by other persons.
Subsequently Mohammed said that his purpose in producing the audio/video recording was to teach "martyrdoms" and "suiciders" how to save themselves so they could continue to fight the invaders.
"Instead of the brethren going to, to carry out martyrdom operations, no, may God bless him, he can use the explosion tools from a distance and preserve his life ... for the real battles," he said, according to a translation in the plea agreement.
He said that he considered the United States military, and those fighting with the United States military in Arab countries, to be invaders. He said that he intended the technology demonstrated in his audio/video recording to be used against those who fight for the United States.
Actually at the time of Toyota pullover, there was another Egyptian student in the car. The 22-year-old Youssef Samir Megahed was also arrested, but he is still awaiting trial on federal charges of transporting explosives and possessing a destructive device. The 22-year-old was not charged in connection with the video, he says he did not know anything about the items in the trunk.
The explosive charges were dropped against Mohamed as part of plea agreement.
The arrests perpetuated the University of South Florida's reputation as "Jihad U," a nickname coined after an Egyptian professor Sami Al-Arian was charged with raising money for terrorist attacks by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He ended up pleading guilty to one count of aiding terrorists and agreeing to be deported.