Unusual FBI statement requests “objectivity” in case of 2 Muslim students

Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

17 August 2007: Investigators from the Northeast Intelligence Network follow various trails and leads. It was Matt Drudge at a National Press Club meeting who once said, “I go where the stink is.”  So do we, although we stay a bit longer to get to the real rot of the case.

A public statement made yesterday has us reeling from the stench emanating from the FBI’s media office in Tampa, Florida about two University of South Florida students: Ahmed Abda Sherf MOHAMED 24, and Yousef (a/k/a Youssef) Samir MEGAHED 21, two Muslim students from the University of South Florida who were caught driving with at least one “incendiary device” and other components that when mixed together, could create explosives. Both were arrested and jailed in lieu of $800,000 bond. Both smiled throughout their booking and arraignment, appearing much happier and more confident than most faced with such charges.

Their arrest led the FBI to search a residence at 12402 Pampas Place, Tampa, Florida in connection with their arrests. Authorities executed a search warrant for 12402 Pampas Place, which is a single family dwelling owned by Nour and Ana SALHAB, according to public records. That location also happens to be the address of a home that had been previously rented World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) one of two groups founded by convicted terrorist supporter Sami AL-ARIAN, who was also a professor at University of South Florida, which is the same university that MOHAMED and MEGAHED attend.

That address was also once used by Ramadan SHALLAH, a FBI Most Wanted terrorist.

Authorities also executed a search warrant on a vehicle owned by Ghassan SALHAB, the son of Nour and Ana SALHAB who also resides with MOHAMED and MEGAHED. The FBI removed materials from the locations, although refused to comment on what was taken by authority of their search warrant. Now, the FBI is commenting on the case, but not in the manner expected.

On Wednesday, the agency released a statement telling the public it’s possible there’s no merit to the accusations against the two men. “The FBI would like to remind everyone that this is an ongoing investigation and there is the possibility that the publicly reported allegations involving the students may be proven to be false,” according to a statement from the media department of the FBI’s Tampa office. “We’re just making a request for everybody to be very objective at this time, very neutral,” said Special Agent Dave Couvertier, media liaison for the Tampa office.

Experts quoted by the media in Tampa were quoted about the statement. “That is a highly unusual statement from the FBI,” said Tampa lawyer John Fitzgibbons, a former federal prosecutor.

“Well, who knows what that means?” said Ed Page, a lawyer who has experience in Tampa and Washington, D.C. “Perhaps the initial assessment that the trunk contained pipe bombs was inaccurate. That’s a weird statement, I’ve got to tell you, to be coming out of the FBI.”

Weird indeed… with a strong and pungent odor.