Former American Airlines mechanic Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, 60, is being charged for tampering with a jetliner at Miami International Airport over the summer. A federal judge denied him bail on Wednesday based on new evidence tying him to ISIS during a pretrial hearing.
Prosecutors have discovered that Alani’s brother is possibly involved with the Islamic state terrorist group in Iraq, and Alani has a history of making statements wishing harm toward non-Muslims. It is unclear if this motivated Alani for allegedly committing acts of industrial sabotage.
Despite these startling discoveries by prosecutors, Alani is not being charged with any terrorism-related crimes. He is accused of sabotaging a Boeing 737, resulting in the stalling of a vessel containing 150 people. Nobody was hurt as a result of Alani’s alleged misdeeds, and Alani reportedly told officials that he committed this action to gain leverage due to ongoing labor disputes.
“At American we have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members and we are taking this matter very seriously,” American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott said.
However, the fact that a man with apparent ties to ISIS was somehow hired by a major corporate airliner may raise some serious questions about their commitment.
Big League Politics reported on this case earlier this month:
After American became aware of the malfunction, they cancelled the plane’s take-off before having it inspected shortly afterward. Another mechanic found out that the problem was a loose pitot tube during the inspection. The tube was blocked by the foam, causing a malfunction of the aircraft data module.
Scott says they “immediately notified federal law enforcement who took over the investigation with our full cooperation” once they realized that it was a case of sabotage.
According to the affidavit, Alani contends that his act of sabotage was not an act of terrorism. He claims that he was disgruntled after a contract “dispute had affected him financially.” Alani added that “his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers” but rather to “cause a delay or have the flight cancelled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work.”
American has been in an intense labor dispute with their mechanics, and the company has accused the union representing the mechanics of coordinating a campaign of industrial sabotage to delay planes as a ploy to gain additional leverage in negotiations. The union strongly disputes this allegation.
“From a union standpoint we wouldn’t condone even the thought of doing this,” said Gary Peterson, who works as a vice president for the Transport Workers Union.
Nevertheless, American claims that the Union’s behavior has caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled and many more to be delayed. It is unclear if Alani was caught contributing to this phenomenon or if more sinister motivations were at hand in his alleged sabotage of the plane.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, Alani is charged with “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft,” and his first appearance in federal court is scheduled for today. His photograph and information about his country of origin have not been released to the public yet.
Alani will remain incarcerated awaiting his trial to officially begin.
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