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Partnerships with Intelligence and Law Enforcement

Thursday, December 18, 2008

 TSA uses Law Enforcement and Intelligence operationally. One example is the policy on remote control vehicles instituted in August 2007. Intel experts gathered intelligence about terrorists using remote control vehicles as delivery systems and remote controls as remote detonators.

Photo of a remote-control dumptruck

TSA shared this information with frontline officers and developed procedures for additional scrutiny of remote controls for security checkpoints. Just yesterday, Dec. 18 in Tampa, Florida, Ahmed Mohamed, an Egyptian national was sentenced to 15 years in jail (read original (, or read below) for providing material support to terrorists after pleading guilty to making a 12-minute video showing how to take a toy truck apart and use the wiring to make a detonator that could set off explosives up to 650 feet away. Mohamed and another Egyptian national were arrested outside Goose Creek, South Carolina with explosive materials in the trunk of their car.

Egyptian gets prison term on U.S. terrorism charge

By Robert Green
(Editing by Jim Loney and Peter Cooney)

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - An Egyptian national received the maximum 15-year U.S. prison sentence on Thursday on a terrorism charge of making a video that showed how to use a remote-controlled toy to set off explosives.

Ahmed Mohamed, 27, pleaded guilty in June to one count of providing material support to terrorists in a plea deal with federal prosecutors who agreed to drop six other charges against him.

Mohamed and fellow Egyptian Youssef Megahed were arrested in August 2007 when their car was stopped for speeding in South Carolina. Both were students at the University of South Florida in Tampa at the time.

Police found explosives in the trunk of the car and a copy of the 12-minute video on Mohamed's laptop computer.

Before he was sentenced, Mohamed apologized and said he never intended to hurt anyone.

"I am convinced I have learned my lesson," he said in a statement read for him by one of his attorneys.

His attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday to give Mohamed an eight-year sentence, saying there was no evidence anyone had been harmed by the video.

But Merryday said Mohamed had committed a serious crime and was a threat to the community.

"What is apparent is that the video was constructed with the intent to produce injuries, death and destruction," he said. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence, saying Mohamed had a deep-seated dislike of Americans.

In the video, which was played in court, Mohamed showed how to take apart a toy truck and use the wiring to make a detonator that could set off explosives up to 650 feet away.

"We hope the brethren make use of it," he said in Arabic.

Mohamed stood with his head bowed as Merryday sentenced him and then looked back at his parents who were in the courtroom. They did not show any emotion.

As part of his plea agreement, Mohamed gave up his right to appeal.

If he had gone to trial and been convicted on all seven counts, he could have been sentenced to life.

After he completes his sentence, Mohamed will be deported.

Megahed, 22, is awaiting a separate trial on a charge of transporting explosives across state lines. No trial date has been set and he is free on bond.