An American Airlines mechanic, arrested earlier in the summer for allegedly sabotaging one of the carrier’s planes during a stopover at Miami International Airport, may have trained with terrorists and could have ties to ISIS, according to federal prosecutors.
Fox News reports that prosecutors believe Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani “displayed support for ISIS” and expressed a desire that “Allah would use ‘divine powers’ to harm non-Muslims, and had several ISIS propaganda videos on his phone, including a video showing a person being shot in the head.”
“Federal investigators said they also learned that Alani lied about taking a trip to Iraq in March to visit his brother and also sent $700 to someone in Iraq,” the outlet reports. “Alani allegedly told an American Airlines co-worker in June his brother was kidnapped and became a member of the terrorist organization.”
Federal prosecutors made the revelations in a bond hearing that took place Wednesday. They argued that Alani should not be allowed out pending trial because he admits to having an “evil side,” and seems to demonstrate a sympathy for Islamic radicals abroad.
Alani was ultimately denied bail.
Prosecutors stopped short of suggesting that Alani intended his crime to be an act of terror. In the initial stages of the investigation, law enforcement sources told Fox News, it seemed Alani was responding to a breakdown in union talks, rather than to the call of global Islamic fundamentalism.
Alani told investigators, in his initial interrogation, that he wasn’t trying to force the plane to crash, but he was trying to ground the plane so that he would have extra work and could earn overtime hours in the event negotiations between the mechanics’ union and American Airlines resulted in a prolonged strike.
A different motive could certainly be presented at trial.
Alani, who is a seasoned mechanic, is accused of sabotaging the plane by placing a piece of styrofoam in the nose cone, which ultimately disabled the plane’s communication and geolocation system and “disabled a part used to gauge airspeed and other critical flight data.”
“Alani glued the foam inside the tube leading from the outside of the plane to its air data module,” according to an earlier report.
The problem could have meant disaster for the 150 passengers and crew aboard the plane, headed to Nassau in the Bahamas, but pilots were alerted to the problem by a warning light that went off before the aircraft left the ground. A “routine maintenance” check revealed Alani’s “modifications.” They were swiftly corrected.
Fellow airline workers identified Alani from surveillance video, which shows the mechanic, who walks with a noticeable limp, walking to and from the plane, and working on the plane’s nose cone for around ten minutes.
Alani will stand trial for “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft” later this year.