Prosecutors are saying that a former American Airlines mechanic “may” have links to Al Qaeda after charging the mechanic with intentionally trying to sabotage a plane. The defendant, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The aircraft had 150 people on board. The 60-year-old defendant is charged with deliberately disabling a key navigation component within the plane earlier this July. Alani told investigators that he was upset about an ongoing labor dispute in which workers were being denied overtime.
Evidence of Alani’s Ties to Terrorist Organizations
The prosecution unveiled evidence that Alani had told coworkers that he family who were members of ISIS and that he hoped that Allah would not harm non-Muslims. He was also found with videos of ISIS on his phone.
Nonetheless, the prosecution has not charged him with terrorism as Alani is an American citizen and his attorney stated that any connection between his client and terrorist activities are unfounded.
Who is Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani?
Alani has worked as an aircraft mechanic for over 30 years. Alani himself and those close to him say that Alani was upset that the airliner was not allowing him and other workers overtime. However, after Alani allegedly disabled the plane, he and other workers were called in to fix it and granted overtime.
Alani is charged with attempting to willfully damage, disable, or destroy a commercial airliner, a crime with possible sentence of 20 years.
According to prosecutors, Alani glued a piece of styrofoam inside the nose of the aircraft that disabled a key navigation system. This allegedly would have prevented the pilots from recovering data related to the airplane’s speed, pitch, and other data. However, the pilots recognized the problem before takeoff when internal diagnostics noticed something was wrong. Airport surveillance recovered evidence that Alani worked on the plane for seven minutes, but no one was aware of any problem with the plane.
Wrong Place, Wrong Time?
The evidence of terrorism against Alani is fairly weak, which is why it hasn’t been charged. Assuming, however, at the prosecution has the evidence that it claims it has and the video evidence of Alani working on the plane is strong, then Alani will need some reasonable explanation as to why he was working on the plane when he wasn’t supposed to be. The video evidence should show Alani approaching the plane with styrofoam or working in the general vicinity of where the alleged sabotage occurred. Otherwise, the sabotage charges against Alani aren’t very good either.
Alani is American of Iraqi descent. If something goes wrong with a plane, the defense could argue that they just fingered the first Muslim guy they could find. The prosecution will need to show that Alani was the only person that could have committed the alleged sabotage and that there was no other possible valid reason for putting styrofoam where Alani put it. Otherwise, the defense will insist this is all one big misunderstanding.
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