National Security & Defense

American Airlines Mechanic who Sabotaged Plane before Takeoff Suspected of ISIS Ties

American Airlines aircraft at Miami International Airport in 2011. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

A federal judge denied bail on Wednesday to an American Airlines mechanic, who has been incarcerated since July for sabotaging a plane with 150 people on board, due to suspicions the mechanic has ties to ISIS.

Abdul-Majeed Alani was arrested on September 5 and confessed to tampering with a Boeing 737 at Miami International Airport weeks earlier, grounding the plane before it had a chance to take off. He told investigators at the time that he was upset over a contract dispute involving a union, and decided to ground the plane so that he could obtain overtime work.

However, investigators subsequently found videos of mass murders committed by ISIS on Alani’s cell phone.

In the Wednesday bail hearing, prosecutors announced that Alani has a brother in Iraq who may be involved with ISIS, and that Alani had previously expressed his desire for Allah to harm non-Muslims.

Alani’s lawyer requested bail to be posted at $200,000 but Magistrate Judge Chris M. McAliley denied the request, deeming Alani a flight risk.

Alani has been a mechanic at American Airlines for thirty years and does not have a criminal record. He is a U.S. citizen.

Court documents assert that Alani used a piece of foam to obstruct the plane’s air data module, which tracks air speed and other critical flight data. Security camera footage from July 17 shows Alani tampering with the aircraft.

The plane had left the gate and reached the runway just before takeoff when the pilots received an error message, after which they aborted the takeoff.

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