It is now believed that a former American Airlines mechanic who was charged with allegedly sabotaging a plane has possible ties to ISIS.
It was previously reported that 60-year-old Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani had attempted to sabotage the plane in an effort to get overtime pay.
“Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani is claimed to have glued foam inside a tube that would disable navigation systems in an aircraft at Miami International Airport, in Florida,” The Daily Mail originally reported about the incident.
But now prosecutors say Alani has a brother in Iraq who may be involved with ISIS. And although Alani is not being charged with a terror-related crime at this time, prosecutors presented accusations that Alani has made past statements about harming non-Muslims.
Prosecutors also say Alani lied about a trip he took to Iraq in March to visit his brother. Alani had also reportedly told a fellow employee that his brother was part of ISIS, according to the Miami Herald.
He also reportedly told his roommate that his brother was kidnapped in Iraq, though it’s unclear if Alani was speaking about the same brother in the separate conversations with the fellow employee and his roommate.
Prosecutors allege Alani allegedly sent $700 to someone in Iraq earlier this year and investigators found an ISIS video on his phone of someone being shot in the head. He had sent the video to someone with a message asking “Allah” to take revenge on non-Muslims.
One of the prosecutors, Maria Medetis, told a judge on Wednesday that Alani had told investigators in September that he had an “evil side.” Medetis also said the pilot of the plane that Alani attempted to sabotage said the work Alani did “could have resulted in a crash.”
Alani’s assistant federal public defender, Christian Dunham, argued that the evidence about Alani’s terrorist ties is being exaggerated.
“We don’t believe he intentionally endangered the safety of people,” the lawyer said.
“I think the government is blowing this out of proportion,” he later added.
Alani is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Iraq who lives in Tracy, California. He regularly commutes to Miami for work.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley imposed pre-trial detention for the former mechanic at the Wednesday hearing.
“I have evidence before me that suggests you could be sympathetic to terrorists,” McAliley reportedly said to Alani at the hearing.
Alani is charged with attempting to sabotage a Boeing 737 with 150 passengers aboard. His plan did not work as the pilot of the aircraft noticed the harm done to the plane before taking off. The July 17 incident took place at the Miami International Airport. No one was injured.
Alani is still claiming his actions were in response to ongoing labor negotiations that threatened his ability to make overtime.
Alani’s arraignment will be held on Friday and he faces up to 20 years for “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft.”
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