~~ W. Somerset Maugham ~~
Monday, August 06, 2007
Explosives Found Near Goose Creek, SC - Update, Names Released of 2 Men in Custody - bumped
By Noah Haglund (Contact), Dave Munday (Contact), Andy Paras (Contact)
Originally published 12:46 p.m., August 5, 2007
Updated 02:40 p.m., August 6, 2007
GOOSE CREEK — Pipe bombs were found Saturday in the trunk of a car being driven by two Florida college students, according to court documents.
Now the men will have to post a combined $800,000 in bond to get out of jail, a circuit judge decided this afternoon.
Youseff Megahed, 21, and Ahmed Mohamed, 24, have been charged with possession of an incendiary device, Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt announced today. If convicted of the charges, the men could face between 2 to 15 years in prison.
Mohamed’s bond was set at $500,000 while Megahed’s was set at $300,000.
Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said the men were pulled over Saturday night on U.S. Highway 176 while driving more than 60 mph in a 45-mph zone. When an officer approached the car, he saw one of them men fold a laptop computer, which the officer believed was suspicious, DeWitt said.
Mohamed is originally from Kuwait and completed his undergrad education in Cairo, according to the Tampa newspaper. He has been at USF since January and was registered for six hours during summer session, the spokesman told the paper.
Megahed, originally from Egpyt, has been enrolled at USF since 2004 and had not declared a major. He was registered for three hours this fall, according to the newspaper. [USF previously was the subject of negative publicity over the saga of Sami Al-Arian, a Kuwait-born professor who pleaded guilty last year to aiding Palestinian terrorists operating in Israel and the West Bank.]
He said Megahed is a permanent legal resident of the United States and Mohamed was the passenger. Mohamed’s legal status is not known.
“There’s a lot of unanswered questions,” Bedier said.
A terrorism task force, meanwhile is reviewing the evidence, said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko.
“At this point, it is too early in the investigation to say there is any link to terrorism,” Kolko said.
In another update from The Blotter we learn that:
In the vehicle, investigators say they found potassium chlorate and sugar, which when combined with a catalyst create what has been dubbed “instant fire” releasing heat, flames and smoke in a spectacular fashion. As a result, they are used in making fireworks and as a fuel for model rockets.
In addition a can of gasoline, PVC pipe, four hobby store brand rocket launchers and hobby store brand fuses were found, investigators said. The four PVC pipes contained an unknown substance. Also taken into evidence was a laptop computer, a GPS unit and Trac cellular telephones. The laptop computer was sent to the FBI lab at Quantico for analysis.
John Little at Blogs for War has info about the model rocket hobby:
That material is sometimes used by hobbyists to create rocket motors. The fuel mixture is often referred to as a “sugar rocket” or “candy rocket.” You can see typical sugar motor hobbyist equipment here. PVC is not generally good rocket tubing material but some hobbyists do use it. You can find videos, like this one, demonstrating similar rockets on YouTube. Many hobbyists also use laptops for model rocket design or to collect and manage data recorded by onboard instruments. So, it is quite plausible that these guys are harmless hobbyists.
Given the fuel, electronics, and location it’s also possible that they had other motives. I think this probably explains the lack of communication from law enforcement. They’re probably working quite hard to sort this one out.
Goose Creek - Two men are being held in the Berkeley County Detention Center after police find explosive making devices in their car. The men 21-year-old Yousef Megahed and 24-year-old Ahmed Mohamed were pulled over Saturday evening during a routine traffic stop near Myers Road and Highway 176. Among the explosive devices found were igniters and fusers. Few details about the suspects are known at this time. They are believed to be students at a Florida college. They are of Middle Eastern descent and are not US citizens. Neither man has been charged, but charges are expected Monday. A press conference will be held at the Berkeley County Sheriff’s office Monday at 11:30 in the morning. Among the potential charges is possession of unlawful explosives. Officials are not at this time releasing any additional information on the number of charges or types of explosive devices they found. Highway 176 in Goose Creek was shut down and has since reopened. Stay tuned to ABC News 4 and http://www.abcnews4.com for details as they become available.
Original Post: Saturday 8/4/2007
This does not sound good. My husband spent the last three years of his Navy career stationed at the Naval Weapons Station, located in Goose Creek, South Carolina. He was the Dockmaster on the floating drydock, USS Alamogordo. The Gordo’s main purpose was to dock our nuclear submarines for repairs. The weapons station was often closed to civilian traffic as they moved nukes and ordnance to and from ships with Marine guards on orders to shoot to kill. So what were Middle Eastern men with a vehicle full of explosives doing in Goose Creek on Route 176, which leads right into the base?
Brief History: Commissioned in 1941, the Station had two distinct missions: as home for two strategic submarine squadrons and a tender, and as an ordnance station with capacity for more than 60 million pounds conventional ordnance. The ordnance mission continues today, and Naval Weapons Station Charleston is the only military installation in the continental U.S. with completely unencumbered explosive safety arcs.
The Weapons Station has expanded its mission and DoD support role, and today is a training center, with the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, Nuclear Power Training Unit, an engineering center with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center and nearby Southern Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command; and as the Army logistics hub, the busiest CONUS surface port in the defense transportation system.
From the Fact File: Naval Weapons Station Charleston encompasses more than 17,000 acres of land with 10,000 acres of forest and wetlands, 16-plus miles of waterfront, four deep water piers, 38.2 miles of railroad and 292 miles of road. With its integrated rail head, surge mobilization capability and the only unencumbered explosives arcs in the continental U.S., Naval Weapons Station Charleston is truly a unique national defense asset.
Goose Creek - Berkeley County police pulled over a vehicle in a routine traffic stop near Meyers Road and Highway 1-76 around 6 p.m. The vehicle with Florida tags was driven by two men of Middle Eastern descent. Inside police found explosive devices. Highway 1-76 near Goose Creek has since been shut down. In addition to the FBI (website) , authorities from Goose Creek, Berkeley County, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are on scene. The Charleston County bomb squad has also been called.
For followup see also:
Flopping Aces has a good roundup from news sources. There seems to be a tight lid on this story with the news stories containing only the barest minimum of information.
Michelle Malkin updates with an interesting tidbit which could be another reason this area might be targeted:
Law enforcement officials closed the road about 7 p.m. after the traffic stop in Goose Creek, home to the Naval Weapons Station. The station houses the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig, a military prison where enemy combatants have been held.
Riehl World View Dan has a good roundup including this update: According to the AP, the two men are still being held at the scene 7 hours later and the bomb squad is going to “demolish” a suspicious device.
Sister Toldjah is also covering this story and links to a blogger caught in the detour. She also zeros in on the Naval Weapons Station being home to the brig where enemy combatants have been held. I think this is interesting, but this base would be a far more valuable target because of the ordnance stored there.
Reliapundit of The Astute Bloggers highlights that the so-called “routine traffic stop” was really a “tip” from another jurisdiction.
The Jawa Report also likes the brig angle.
Blogs of War has a good roundup with quotes from various local media. John Little also notes how tight-lipped authorities are being:
I just got off the phone someone from the Naval Weapons Station. “Nobody has any comment” is all I could get out of them. It was a very annoyed “no comment” at that.
Not much is leaking out but it still sounds like there’s something to this story
A bomb squad robot searches a car on US Highway 176 in Goose Creek Saturday night.
By Nita Birmingham
Originally published 12:08 a.m., August 5, 2007
Updated 12:30 a.m., August 5, 2007
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said there was “no immediate threat” after a portion of St. James Avenue, U.S. Highway 176, in Goose Creek was shut down for hours Saturday evening.
Authorities shut down the road near the Devon Pointe Apartments about 7 p.m. after a traffic stop, and it was still closed as of press time.
By 11:20 p.m., there were more than a dozen police cars, fire trucks, and an ambulance surrounding a gray sedan. A bomb squad robot was looking into the trunk of the car, and the passenger’s door was open. The Red Cross had also arrived on the scene.
At 11:45 p.m., Julie Johnson, assistant special agent-in-charge, FBI-Columbia, told reporters amassed at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses that she would answer no questions, but that the FBI was still trying to determine if a crime had been committed.
She said the agency was working with state and local agencies, and that they were going to be there a long time.
An eyewitness, Jack Knuoff, said he saw police make a traffic stop where three police officers were talking with one man who might have been of Middle Eastern descent around 6 p.m.
Knuoff, who was sitting at the scene in a lawn chair, said he didn’t think the stop was important, and went home, but returned after his brother called to say more police had been called to the scene.
Alan Hawes/The Post and Courier - A bomb squad technician examines items removed from a four door sedan on Highway 176 in Goose Creek early Sunday morning. The FBI is on the scene investigating the suspicious car that was stopped by police Saturday night. A robot, center, removed several items including a backpack, a large gas can, and a red box from the car. The technician crawled on his stomach for a cautious up-close look at several items.
Fox News/Fox and Friends reports (4:00 AM PDT) that 2 men are now in custody for unlawful possession of an explosive device. Authorities are not saying what kind of explosive, however, the device was destroyed by the bomb squad. [This report is not on their website. I’m going to bed, so I expect the story will either die or explode before I get up in the morning.]