An American Airlines mechanic working out of Miami International Airport, believed to have possible ties to Muslim terrorist groups, pleaded guilty this week to sabotaging a plane by disabling its navigation system.
“I do admit the guilt,” Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani said through an interpreter at Miami federal court.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 4, 2020.
Alani, 60, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has worked as an airline mechanic for 30 years. He disabled the plane’s navigation system on July 17 before it could leave Miami for Nassau in the Bahamas. The pilot aborted the takeoff and returned to the gate where, ironically, Alani ‘fixed’ the problem.
Initially, he told investigators that he sabotaged the plane in order to work overtime and earn more pay.
But prosecutors say he has a brother in Iraq who may be involved with the Islamic State extremist group and that he had made statements wishing Allah would use “divine powers” to harm non-Muslims, according to USA Today. Alani also apparently had Islamic State videos on his phone depicting mass murders and that he traveled to Iraq in March but did not disclose that to the FBI after his arrest.
The allegations of ties to Muslim extremist groups never came up at his hearing, however.
“This case is only about what you heard in court,” said Jonathan Meltz, Alani’s attorney. “(He) has been leading a law-abiding life for 30 years.”
Federal Air Marshals looked at video footage from the airport on the morning in question and zeroed in on Alani after he was spotted leaving a white truck and walking toward the plane, which had just come in from Orlando.
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