updated 12/18/2008 5:54:03 PM ET 2008-12-18T22:54:03

An Egyptian student attending a Florida university was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday for making a YouTube video showing would-be terrorists how to turn a remote-control toy into a bomb detonator.

Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 27, had pleaded guilty in June to providing material support to terrorists. The video was found on a laptop computer in the car he was driving when pulled over near Charleston, S.C., in August 2007.

Defense attorneys had requested that Mohamed receive 8 years in prison, the minimum penalty according to sentencing guidelines. Instead, he was given the maximum sentence.

Making a bomb detonator
In the video, Mohamed demonstrates how to convert a remote-controlled car from Wal-Mart into a bomb detonator. He speaks in Arabic, saying he wants to teach "martyrdoms" and "suiciders" how to save themselves so they can continue to fight invaders, including U.S. soldiers.

"Instead of the brethren going to, to carry out martyrdom operations, no, may God bless him, he can use the explosion tools from a distance and preserve his life ... for the real battles," he says, according to a translation in the plea agreement.

Mohamed and fellow Egyptian student Youssef Samir Megahed were arrested after deputies in Goose Creek, S.C., found what they described as explosives in the trunk. Mohamed claimed they were ingredients for homemade fireworks he planned to shoot off on his birthday.

Deputies also found the laptop with a 12-minute video that had been uploaded to the video-sharing Web site YouTube.

'Jihad U'
The arrests perpetuated the University of South Florida's reputation as "Jihad U," a nickname coined after an Egyptian professor, Sami Al-Arian, was charged with raising money for terrorist attacks by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He ended up pleading guilty to one count of aiding terrorists and agreed to deportation.

Megahed is awaiting trial on federal charges of transporting explosives and possession of a destructive device. The 22-year-old was not charged in connection with the video and says he didn't know anything about the items in the trunk.

Explosives charges against Mohamed were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Prosecutors have not produced any evidence showing the men planned illegal activity. The men said they ended up near a naval weapons station looking for cheap gas at a Wal-Mart station.

Mohamed was quoted by prosecutors in a sentencing document as calling America a "vile nation" and referring to Americans as stupid people. They say his writings and actions showed he believed in "a radical brand of jihadist thought" and researched the building of bombs and rockets.

They believe he came to the United States to gather "information about explosives and acquiring components in this country to construct explosives to cause harm within this country." His family says he came to get a doctorate in engineering and take advantage of the opportunities in the United States.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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