An airline mechanic who claimed he sabotaged a plane’s controls because he was disgruntled about union contract negotiations “may have ties to ISIS,” Local 10 reports.
Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was arrested earlier this month after authorities say he altered equipment on a July flight from Miami, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas.
Via Local 10:
According to federal prosecutors, Islamic State group propaganda video showing graphic murders was discovered on Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani’s cellphone.
A co-worker also told government officials that Alani had once said his brother was a member of ISIS and that he traveled to Iraq in March to visit him.
Alani’s roommate, however, told authorities the trip was not to visit his brother, but had been because his brother had been kidnapped, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said photos on his phone from his trip to Baghdad and Mosul show him smiling and posing with relatives and said he did not appear to be in distress in any of the images.
Alani was born in Iraq but is a U.S. citizen.
According to prosecutors, authorities discovered a November 2018 article that had been sent to him about one of the Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes. The article described the plane having issues with its ADM system.
“Further inspection revealed the ADM appeared to have been deliberately obstructed with what appeared to be a dark Styrofoam-type material,” Jose Ruiz, a senior federal air marshal with the Transportation Security Administration, wrote in the affidavit, according to Local 10.
When Alani was arrested in early September, he blamed failed union contract negotiations for his actions, saying the lack of an agreement “affected him financially.”
“Alani claimed that he tampered with the Target Aircraft in order to cause a delay or have the flight canceled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work,” the original court filing said.
The Dallas News reported on his alleged actions:
Investigators said the alleged sabotage took place on American Airlines flight 2834 bound for the Bahamas with 150 crew and passengers aboard. While powering up to take off, the problem triggered an error message in the plane’s air data module system and takeoff was aborted.
Passengers boarded a new plane and continued to the Bahamas.
After the pilot reported the problem, a different maintenance worker found that a tube connecting the air data module system had been blocked with a “dark Styrofoam-like material.”
American Airlines security, along with air marshals and the FBI, identified Alani based on video surveillance footage. Witnesses said they identified Alani in footage by a unique limp or hitch in his step.
“If these allegations of sabotage are true, they are outrageous and indefensible, and we fully condemn such actions,” TWU International President John Samuelson said a statement after Alani’s arrest. “Our mechanics are highly trained professionals who are dedicated to performing at the highest standards in the industry — and we will not tolerate anything less.”