One of two University of South Florida students accused of transporting explosives has asked the courts to throw out evidence against him, saying the search was racially motivated and illegal.
Students Ahmed Mohamed and Youssef Megahed were arrested Aug. 4 after deputies in South Carolina found explosive materials in their car trunk, authorities said. Both remain in federal custody awaiting trial.
In a court document filed Friday, Assistant Federal Public Defender James W. Smith, one of Megahed’s attorneys, wrote that the South Carolina deputy who pulled the students over used racial slurs, did not believe the reasonable stories they gave and searched their car without probable cause.
Megahed and Mohamed were stopped for speeding. While in Berkeley County, S.C., sheriff’s deputy Lamar Blakely radioed a dispatcher to look up Mohamed’s driver’s license and registration information and had a conversation with his partner, the court document states.
In that conversation, captured on videotape, Blakely tells his partner Mohamed and Megahed are “graduates of suicide bomber school” and members of the “Taliban,” according to the court filing. He also jokes that they have a copy of the Quran with them. At one point, the court document states, Blakely becomes concerned the remarks are being taped.
Ahmed Bedier, director of the Central Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the deputy’s alleged remarks are “disturbing.” He also questioned why Mohammed’s car was searched.
“Law enforcement should follow the rules,” Bedier said. “When they don’t do their job the right way, they jeopardize their own investigation.”