First, the request by Megahed to be tried separately has been denied.
Two Egyptian college students who are facing federal explosives charges will be tried together, a judge ruled Thursday.Second, the trial date has been moved to March of 2008.
One of the defendants, Youssef Megahed, asked U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday to sever the cases earlier this month. Merryday denied that motion without comment in a written order.
The pair's trial, slated to start Monday, Dec. 3, was postponed until March 2008, said Assistant U.S. Public Defender Adam Allen. Allen represents Yousef Megahed, who along with Ahmed Mohamed, awaits their trial.Third, they are continuing to state that what was found in their trunk was only homemade fireworks.
In recent filings, both Allen and John Fitzgibbons, the high-powered celebrity lawyer representing Mohamed, indicated uncertainty about the appropriateness of the Dec. 3 trial date.
On Nov. 19, Fitzgibbons moved to delay the trial, citing concerns that the defense needs time for lengthy testing of prosecutor's evidence before the trial begins. Because much of the evidence is stored at the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va., Fitzgibbons said its examination might take more time.
"It will be necessary for the defense to consult with - and possibly employ - computer experts, explosives exerts [sic] and probably other experts," he wrote.
Ahmed Mohamed said he made the fireworks, called "sugar rockets," because it was cheaper than buying fireworks at a roadside stand, the defense filing said. [...]Since the defense wants to consult with computer experts, explosives experts, and likely language experts, I would venture to guess that they are going to try to deflect the impact of what was found in the vehicle at the time of the arrest. Through experts, the defense will likely claim that some of the files on Mohamed's laptop could have been stored there without his knowledge while he was logged into a network; that, although matching the legal definition of an explosive, the items in the trunk were just homemade fireworks; and that the translations of Arabic statements or writing made by either of the two has been made to sound worse than it is due to not accounting for colloquial or traditional usage of words or phrases.
Mohamed told investigators that he became interested in fireworks just before July 4, public defender Adam Allen wrote.
Mohamed told authorities the devices "did not explode, but traveled a few feet into the air and would make smoke."
Keep this in mind, however, as the defense tries to muddy the waters and create doubt in the minds of the jurors:
When it is suggested that the pipes found in the trunk of the vehicle were only fireworks, also consider the facts that:The facts still don't seem to match the stories, and I think that the defense knows that. I believe that the defense will attempt to muddy the water and question minor aspects in an attempt to cast greater dispersion over the entirety of the prosecution's case, and I think that they will do this because they will not be able to logically explain all of the evidence that will be presented against their clients.• Ahmed Mohamed and Yousef Megahed had a suspicious conversation in Arabic while in the back of the police car about how to explain what was found in the trunk of their vehicle.When it is suggested that Mohamed became interested in fireworks just before 04 July 2007, consider the facts that:
• The contents of the pipes found in the in the trunk of the vehicle meet the legal definition of an explosive.
• Authorities found a file titled "Bomb Shock" on Ahmed Mohamed's computer. That contained files about explosives, including detailed descriptions of TNT and of C-4.
• FBI agents found a toy remote-control boat, still in its box, and a partially dismantled digital watch at Youssef Megahed's Tampa, FL, home. They suspect that the items are the beginnings of a homemade bomb.• Authorities found a file titled "Bomb Shock" on Ahmed Mohamed's computer. That contained files about explosives, including detailed descriptions of TNT and of C-4.When it is suggested that, while Mohamed's actions may raise alarm until properly explained, Megahed is just a fellow college student who was only traveling along with Mohamed, consider the facts that:
• Ahmed Mohamed admitted to the FBI that he made a 12-minute video posted on YouTube that explained in Arabic how to turn a toy boat into a bomb. Mohamed stated that "the technology which he demonstrated in the tape was to be used against those who fought for the United States."• Ahmed Mohamed and Yousef Megahed had a suspicious conversation in Arabic while in the back of the police car about how to explain what was found in the trunk of their vehicle.
• Yousef Megahed has two Egyptian passports, one of which is under a different last name.
• Yousef Megahed's application for citizenship was turned down in 2006 because he had been out of the country for more than 1,600 days from 1999 through 2003. That means that Yousef was out of the country over 87% of the time during those five years, and many of those were trips to Egypt that lasted six months or more.
• Yousef Megahed was allegedly researching high-powered rifles. Authorities say the information about that research was found on Megahed at the time of his arrest on 04 August 2007, and that he and Ahmed Mohammed may have stopped at a Wal-Mart on the way to South Carolina to look at rifles.
There probably won't be much more coming out on this case until next spring, but I will continue to monitor it and keep you posted.
USMC 9971 OUT