Today, Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, an Egyptian student in Tampa, Florida, entered a guilty plea in Federal Court in Tampa to one count of providing material support to terrorists. The plea stems from the case wherein he and a cohort, Youssef Megahed, who is another student at the University of South Florida (USF) and whose charges are still pending, were stopped by Sheriff's deputies near a US Naval facility in Charleston, South Carolina. During the traffic stop, their vehicle was found to contain explosives material and jihadist training materials on Mohamed's computer. Mohamed's plea relates to the circumstances of that traffic stop and what he told investigators were the purpose of those training materials...namely to assist terrorist fighters in their jihad against the "invaders," who Mohamed identified as US military personnel in Muslim lands and those who assisted them.
Mohamed now awaits sentencing and faces up to fifteen years incarceration. Pursuant to prior media reports, Mohamed came to the US on a student visa to attend USF and had been arrested for as yet detailed charges in Egypt prior to coming to the United States. Seemingly, there may be some questions concerning the student visa issuance process related to Mohamed that hopefully the State Department and/or the Department of Homeland Security will one day answer.
Beyond that, Mohamed joins a growing list of Islamic terror-linked operatives who have also been connected with the University of South Florida. Those include former Professor Sami Al-Arian, who was a tenured computer engineering professor there and is now convicted of having provided support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). It includes Al-Arian's brother-in-law Mazen Al-Najjar who was deported after a multi-year legal battle that linked him to the PIJ. Al-Najjar was a part-time professor at USF, and worked there in violation of US immigration law. It includes Ramadan Shallah, the current chief of the PIJ who Al-Arian and Al-Najjar brought to the US to ostensibly work in their PIJ front organization in Tampa. Shallah worked for a while as a professor at USF...in violation of US immigration law. Indirectly, the list includes Fawaz Damra, the convicted and deported former imam of the Parma mosque in Cleveland, Ohio who lied on his naturalization forms about his support for PIJ and other radical Islamist organizations. Damra was involved with Al-Arian and Al-Najjar with their Tampa PIJ front organization that also happened to have a formal "research" working agreement with USF. The list includes Hussam Abujubarra, the similarly (like Damra) convicted and deported computer engineering professor at the University of Central Florida (UCF) who was convicted of lying in his own immigration proceedings. Abujubarra helped Al-Arian and Al-Najjar set up that Tampa PIJ front organization with links to USF. The list includes Bashir Nafi, a notable PIJ operative who, like Shallah, Al-Arian and Al-Najjar brought to the US with visa applications to work at their Tampa PIJ front organization affiliated with USF but who, in reality, wound up working at the northern Virginia International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the very "charity" under Federal investigation wherein Al-Arian was detained for contempt for refusing to testify about in Grand Jury proceedings. Nafi was deported in1996 for visa violations and, like Shallah and Al-Najjar, remains under Federal indictment in Tampa for Federal charges, though they remain at large since they are outside the US.
From the earliest days of the Al-Arian, et al investigation, various iterations of the USF Administration have claimed they have done all they can to cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities and to conduct all available internal audits and reviews to make certain the school is free from radical, terror-involved personnel and influences. University administrators are not counter-terrorism law enforcement personnel. There are, however, significant and strong administrative and legal inquiry procedures that remain available to State university and education officials when it is suspected that serious subversive activity is occurring on their campuses or being committed by their faculty or students. The cases of the suspects and defendants named above spanned a period of nearly fourteen overt years. That is a long time for a university to learn some tough lessons. The question is, has USF learned those lessons and has it really done all it can to resolve what some may call a substantial problem?
If the USF Administration cannot answer that question, maybe the Florida Attorney General or the Governor can.