Friday, April 3, 2009, Youssef Megahed was acquitted on explosive charges. He proudly walked out of Tampa’s Federal Courthouse with a smile of relief spread across his face. The jury took four days to deliver their verdict of not guilty. His brother, Yahia Megahed cried tears of joy. The Megahed’s family joy was short lived.
The jury determined that the federal prosecutor had no case against Youssef Megahed. Megahed was arrested in 2007 with his friend, and fellow USF classmate, Ahmed Mohammed, in South Carolina. The two had been pulled over and it was discovered that there were explosives in the trunk of their car. The car that Ahmed Mohammed was driving belonged to Youssef’s brother, Yahia. Youssef Megahed’s defense attorney claimed that the explosives were homemade fireworks. Ahmed Mohammed plead guilty in an earlier trial to terrorism charges and is currently serving a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.
Unlike Ahmed Mohammed, Megahed took his case to court and a jury of his peers determined that he was not supplying explosives to terrorists and he was found not guilty on all charges. Mohammed had been convicted of creating a You Tube video that showed how to convert a remote control toy vehicle into a bomb. Megahed’s defense presented the argument that Megahed was unaware of the activity that Mohammed was involved in, as well as the materials that were found in the car.
On Monday, April 6, 2009, Youssef Megahed, and his father, Samir Megahed were leaving a Wal-Mart store when Samir received a phone call from Megahed’s defense attorney, Adam Allen. Allen warned Samir about the pending warrant issued for Youssef and advised the two to come to Allen’s office immediately. They never made it to the office. Samir’s vehicle was surrounded on Bruce B Downs and agents working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement took Youssef into custody. He is being held and it is believed that Immigration and Customs are currently seeking procedures to have Megahed deported. Youssef Megahed has lived in the United States legally since he was 11 years old. His father, Samir Megahed, describes the arrest as a kidnapping by the United States government. The question remains as to the validity of the arrest since Megahed was found not guilty on federal explosive charges on April 3, 2009.