Two men arrested in SC bomb scare charged with possessing incendiary device; Update: Pipe bombs?

They’re looking at anywhere from two to 15 years in prison, but if the Blotter’s right it may be a huge misunderstanding.

Two Egyptian nationals [Some reports claim one is from Kuwait. — ed.] stopped for speeding in South Carolina Saturday evening were carrying precursor chemicals, used in improvised bomb-making as well in as model rocketry, lengths of plastic pipe and twists of hobby fuse, and model rocket launchers, according to investigators…

When stopped along I-76 at 6 p.m., about seven miles from a U.S. Navy weapons station, the driver, who said he was a hydro-engineering major at South Florida University, told a deputy he was carrying explosives. When a bomb technician and additional officers arrived, the driver stated he and his passenger were using the materials to make homemade rockets…

In the vehicle, investigators say they found potassium chlorate and sugar, which when combined with a catalyst create what has been dubbed “instant fire” releasing heat, flames and smoke in a spectacular fashion. As a result, they are used in making fireworks and as a fuel for model rockets.

In addition a can of gasoline, PVC pipe, four hobby store brand rocket launchers and hobby store brand fuses were found, investigators said. The four PVC pipes contained an unknown substance. Also taken into evidence was a laptop computer, a GPS unit and Trac cellular telephones.

The GPS unit is a bit odd but it may be they were simply looking for a field to fire rockets from. The one genuinely suspicious detail (well, two, depending upon what they find in the pipes) as first noted by Dan Riehl yesterday is that one of them tried to hide the laptop when they were pulled over. Unless he had some porn on there and was unusually paranoid about the cops finding it, it’s hard to understand why he makes that move.

Anyone here into model rockets, incidentally? How do you transport this stuff if it’s so explosive as to risk a 15-year jail sentence if you get caught with it in your trunk?

Update: Via Dan Riehl, things are starting to look less innocent.

Authorities say two Middle Eastern men arrested near a Navy base had several pipe bombs in their car…

According to an affidavit with his arrest warrant, Mohamed admitted he made the pipe bombs from items he bought at Wal-Mart.

Defense attorney Dennis Rhoad says Mohamed and Megahed have a reason for having the devices, but he declined to comment further during their bond hearing.

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