The parents of Yousef Megahed have asked authorities to take any action necessary to protect their son during his stay in jail on charges of possessing a pipe bomb, the leader of a Muslim advocacy group said Wednesday.
Ahmed Bedier said the national media attention, widespread speculation about terrorism links and local community reaction has the family concerned about the University of South Florida student's safety.
"They think all those things are putting their son in a dangerous situation," Bedier said. "He's in a (jail) far away from home."
Megahed, 21, and Ahmed Mohamed, either 24 or 26 according to warrants, were charged with possession of an explosive device after authorities say they found pipe bombs in Megahed's car during a traffic stop Saturday night. Mohamed was a passenger in the car. Megahed's first name is also spelled as Yousseff in arrest warrants.
A judge set bond at $500,000 for Mohamed and $300,000 for Megahed. The FBI has said it doesn't think the men were part of a terrorist plot.
Megahed and Mohamed, both Egyptian citizens living legally in Tampa, Fla., while taking classes at USF, told authorities the items found in the car were fireworks. They also said they were on a weekend road trip to North Carolina.
Bedier, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the family made the request for their son's safety Wednesday when Tampa-area FBI agents returned a computer that agents seized from their home Monday. The agents relayed the request to South Carolina authorities, Bedier said.
The family allowed the FBI into their home without a warrant and believes their son is innocent, Bedier said.