An American Airlines mechanic who was charged with sabotaging an aircraft back in July has been linked to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group by prosecutors in the United States. The 60 year-old Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was found to have a brother affiliated with Islamic State, while also possessing IS-related propaganda on his smartphone device, reports the BBC.
Sabotage and errors
The aircraft that Alani is charged with sabotaging was unable to take off after pilots onboard received an error message. Alani stated that he had no intention of causing harm to the plane or passengers, according to court papers, but also told police that he wanted to cause a delay to the flight in order to acquire overtime work.
Alani is now being held without bail after US prosecutors argued that he presented a flight risk. Despite the links with IS, the former resident of Iraq has yet to be charged with any terrorism-related offence.
But Assistant US Attorney Maria Medetis asserted that a video sent from Alani’s phone depicted people being shot, while the defendant had allegedly told a person to whom he sent the video that God wished harm to come to those of non-Muslim faith. Medetis commented that this meant his actions to damage the plane could have had an underlying motive of deliberate harm.
Speaking in court, two witnesses provided differing accounts of Alani’s brother. One suggested that the defendant had travelled to his native Iraq in order to meet his IS member brother, but a roommate stated that Alami had travelled there because his brother had been kidnapped.
While the IS links are of concern to prosecutors, no evidence has been provided that explicitly demonstrates that Alani’s brother is part of IS.
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The plane that Alani worked on was scheduled to fly from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas on 17th July. But pilots on board the aircraft were forced to abort the take-off after the flight computer communicated an error message.
Having inspected the aircraft further, engineers discovered a piece of foam that had been glued inside a component of the navigation system, which prevented it from functioning adequately. This was later linked to Alani, with prosecutors arguing that it represented a deliberate attempt to sabotage the aircraft.
Responding to the accusations, Alani told the authorities that he had been disappointed by a stilted contract dispute between his union and American Airlines, which negatively impacted him financially. Alani then eventually worked overtime in order to fix the plane.
Other incidents have raised the spectre of terrorism in recent months. A Delta Air Lines flight from Puerto Rico to New York was forced to turn back in July after a disturbed passenger had attempted to enter the cockpit. And a JetBlue flight in New York had been evacuated after flight attendants received a photo of a suicide bomb vest, delivered directly to their phones as the plane taxied for takeoff.