On September 6, I posted an article about Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, an airline mechanic in Florida who attempted to sabotage an airplane before it took off. Thank goodness his actions were discovered before the plane took off and the problem he created was corrected. He claimed that his actions were the result of a union wage dispute and that he was looking for overtime pay. The article I wrote states that I suspected there was probably more to the story. Well, there is.
The Tampa Bay Times posted an Associated Press story today that reported the following:
An American Airlines mechanic accused of sabotaging a navigation system on a flight with 150 people aboard at Miami International Airport was denied bond by a federal judge Wednesday after prosecutors suggested he may have links to a Middle East terrorist organization.
Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, a 60-year-old veteran employee, told investigators after his arrest earlier this month that he disabled the system because he was upset over stalled union contract negotiations with the airline and wanted to generate some overtime for maintenance on the plane. He said he meant no harm to anyone, and the July 17 flight was aborted before takeoff after an error alert appeared on the navigation system.
But federal prosecutors revealed new information about possible motives that prompted Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley to keep Alani behind bars, ruling that he posed a danger to the community and a flight risk.
“I have evidence before me that suggests you could be sympathetic to terrorists,” McAliley said, calling his alleged tampering with the aircraft “highly reckless and unconscionable.”
His arraignment on a sabotage-related charge is scheduled for Friday; if convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
At his detention hearing, prosecutors said that since his arrest investigators with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force have learned that Alani lied about taking a trip to Iraq in March to visit his brother, and that he told a fellow American Airlines employee in June that his brother had been kidnapped and was a member of the Islamic State extremist group.
I am grateful for the federal investigators that uncovered the truth. I also wonder how Mr. Alani didn’t think that an error message would show up before takeoff. Possibly he thought the error message would not be noticed or would be ignored. Either way, I don’t have a lot of confidence in Mr. Alani as a mechanic.