American Airlines mechanic accused of sabotaging plane had ISIS video: Prosecutors
The American Airlines mechanic authorities say sabotaged a jetliner's by tampering with a plane's navigation system just before takeoff was denied bail Wednesday after prosecutors said he had an ISIS propaganda video showing graphic murders on his cellphone.
Authorities in Miami have charged Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani with one count of willfully damaging, destroying and disabling an aircraft earlier this month, and he initially told investigators he did it because he was frustrated with a union dispute and wanted more overtime.
The government said in court Wednesday, according to WPLG, that investigators found an ISIS propaganda video he had downloaded on his cellphone showing the graphic murders and then shared it with another person along with a message that said something similar to “Allah, we ask you to use all your might and power against the Kafir.”
Kafir is another word for “infidel” or non-believer -- prosecutors at this time, however are not charging Alani with any terrorism-related crime.
According to ABC News affiliate WPLG, prosecutors in court said another American Airlines employee came forward to say that Alani also had taken a trip to Baghdad and Mosul to visit his brother, who allegedly is in ISIS.
Alani’s roommate said that trip was because Alani’s brother had been kidnapped, but photos from the trip on his phone show him smiling and posing with family members, and he does not appear to be in distress, prosecutors say.
Judge Chris McAliley, said “What you did was at minimum highly reckless, it was unconscionable," and she said the evidence before her suggest he may be at least sympathetic toward terrorists.
WPLG reports that prosecutors say he said “out of my evil side” he wanted to figure out if he could delay a plane and he picked that one to sabotage.
According to the criminal complaint, Alani allegedly drove an airline pickup truck to an aircraft slated to take off in just a few minutes to the Bahamas on the morning of July 17 at Miami International Airport. The plane had 150 passengers and crew on board, court documents say.
While still on the runway, the pilots were alerted something was wrong with the plane, aborted takeoff and returned back to the gate. It was then, court documents say, other American Airlines mechanics found the parts were disconnected and "appeared to have been deliberately obstructed with what appeared to be a dark Styrofoam-type material."
American Airlines security notified the FBI after reviewing security camera footage from the day, court documents say. Authorities say the footage shows Alani allegedly accessing the part of the aircraft where the tampered parts are located for seven minutes, and the complaint notes that there was no report of a previous mechanical issue or work order of the aircraft.
Court documents say that Alani's work isn't usually related to aircraft on the tarmac, but is usually limited to aircraft in hangers.
Three other people who were seen on the surveillance footage getting into the truck with Alani were interviewed by law enforcement and identified Alani, documents say.
When he was interviewed by law enforcement, court documents say, he admitted that he was driving the truck and allegedly tried to sabotage the aircraft, but said he didn't mean to cause any harm to those on board.
"He further admitted that he inserted a piece of foam into the ADM's (aircraft's) inlet where the connects and that he applied [Super Glue] to the foam so as to prevent the foam from coming off," court documents say.
The FAA issued an emergency order Monday revoking the mechanic certificate for Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, according to a FAA spokesperson. The revocation was effective immediately and generally lasts for one year.
"Alani’s alleged action posed a risk to safety in air commerce and air transportation and violated several Federal Aviation Regulations," a FAA spokesperson said.
Alani also made mistakes when he worked for Alaska Airlines, according to a lawsuit Alani filed against the airline after his firing. The complaint mentioned Alani's certificate was suspended by the FAA for a month in March 2009 after Alani was accused of erroneously installing an unserviceable battery in an aircraft.