The airline mechanic who allegedly sabotaged an American Airlines plane with 150 people onboard may have ties to ISIS, according to prosecutors. Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was arrested and charged with “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft” after a plane gearing up for takeoff at the Miami airport was stopped due to an issue with its navigation system. When the plane was inspected, another mechanic discovered what appeared to be deliberate obstruction with a hard foam material that was later traced back to Alani. According to the affidavit, Alani told federal air marshals that he had only wanted to “cause a delay or have the flight canceled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work.” This motive is being questioned by prosecutors.
At Alani’s detention hearing, prosecutors said that FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force investigators have learned that he sent $700 to someone in Iraq, where Alani has family, lied about taking a trip to Iraq in March to visit his brother, and later told a colleague that his brother had been kidnapped and was a member of ISIS. Agents also found a “disturbing” ISIS execution video on Alani’s phone, and said he sent the video to someone along with a message for “Allah” to take revenge against non-Muslims. Alani’s defense has argued that the terrorist connections have been exaggerated. “We don’t believe he intentionally endangered the safety of people” Alani’s attorney Christian Dunham said. “I think the government is blowing this out of proportion.”