"Two Florida Students Indicted on Explosives Charges"
by Steven Emerson
August 31, 2007
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CHRIS JANSING: NBC News terrorism analyst, Steve Emerson, is live in Washington for us.
And Steve, what do you want to know about this case – what don't we know that's critical here?
STEVEN EMERSON: Well, I think there's a lot more to know. We need to know the background of at least one of them, Mr. Mohamed, who had come from Egypt and had been living here since January, has an engineering PhD, and was charged with disseminating information regarding, you know, terrorism – regarding bombs. I don't know if they specifically charged him with bombs in the indictment, but he was actually teaching people how to create remote control car bombs to be used against infidels or Americans.
And the question is, why did he come here, who else are his connections here, and who else was involved with him – was he sent here on a particular mission – and why did he get into the country? Those are the questions I would like to know.
And of course, his laptop, which the police seized when they first arrested them on August 4th, probably contains a lot more information about what else he was doing or who he was involved with.
JANSING: Let me ask you about one of those questions. Who else are his connections, or who does he know here? Besides questioning the suspects themselves, where do investigators go with this?
EMERSON: Well, that's a good question. We know that he was living – or about to move to the house that Sami al-Arian, the Islamic Jihad professor, lived in. And, you know, that raises an interesting coincidence.
He and his other co-indicted colleague were members of the al-Qassam mosque; that was the Islamic Jihad mosque. So maybe there is a need to do a lot more investigation about who was attending that mosque itself. And I believe, also, that the question has to be raised about why he came to Tampa to create a video about how to teach remote control car bombs to be disseminated to terrorists around the world, or even in this country.
JANSING: Steve, the fact that there should have been other methods, arguably, where these guys could have been found out, including when they came here, why didn't we know exactly what had happened to them in Egypt – any number of other possibilities. Does it concern you at all that they were caught up with by happenstance – they were caught speeding?
EMERSON: Yes, they were caught speeding, and it was happenstance that the police officer saw them trying to conceal the laptop in their car, which really raises suspicion. And then, of course, he checked the trunk and found potassium nitrate and sugar there with components for bomb making material.
Also, the question is, why didn't his previous affiliation with a terrorist group in Egypt preclude him from getting a student visa? And we don't know whether this was a screw-up by DHS or a screw-by the Egyptian government, at this point.
JANSING: Yeah, more to come on this for sure. Steve, thanks.
EMERSON: You're welcome.