Two Muslim men were arrested last week and charged with having an unlawful incendiary device that prosecutors are calling a pipe bomb. The two men, both living in Tampa, Fla., were pulled over for speeding a few miles from the Navy base in Berkeley County where suspected terrorists have been held. Authorities are not suggesting the men were involved in a terrorist plot, but it’s unknown how they strayed from reported plans for a North Carolina vacation.
Yousef Samir Megahed, 21, originally from Egypt, and Ahmed Abda Sherf Mohamed, 24, originally from Kuwait, were going at least 15 miles over the speed limit when pulled over, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office. Approaching the vehicle, the officer noticed the men closing a laptop computer and stowing it on the backseat. Responses to questions about where the men were going and where they were coming from were erratic, leading the officer to ask if he could search the vehicle.
The men stated they had fireworks in the trunk and that sent off red flags, with officers closing the road and detonating one device in the trunk. Other materials found in the trunk are being tested. Officials noted that the explosives looked “homemade.” The two men are being held with bonds of $300,000 and $500,000 respectively.
Local Imam Mohamed Melhem urges people not to rush to judgment, noting much of the attention of this case is linked to the two men’s Muslim backgrounds.
“I think they should let the court do their work and respect that,” Melhem says, noting Muslims have traditionally been law-abiding American citizens.
Megahed and Mohamed better hope for a court decision, or they could end up a whole lot closer to that Navy brig. —Greg Hambrick