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ISIS ties found for airline worker who sabotaged Miami airline flight

A Boeing employee looks up toward the sensor measuring the plane's angle of attack just below the cockpit of a 737 MAX 8 plane sitting outside the 737 factory in Renton on March 25, 2019. The angle-of- attack (AOA) sensor is the lower device below the cockpit windshield on both sides of the fuselage. (Mike Siegel/Seattle Times/TNS)
September 18, 2019

An American Airlines mechanic was denied bond at a Wednesday federal court hearing amid revelations investigators found ISIS propaganda material on his phone.

Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, 60, has been accused of sabotaging an airliner’s flight navigation before a July flight out of Miami, according to ABC Local 10 News. The sabotaged flight, carrying 150 passengers, was canceled before take off.

According to a federal court complaint, Alani admitted to the sabotage because of stalled contract negotiations between the airline workers and American Airlines; however, the revelations of the prosecutors suggested that may not have been the real reason for the sabotage.

Prosecutors claimed to have found video’s on Alani’s phone, which originated from ISIS and showed graphic murders. Alani reportedly downloaded and sent one ISIS video to another person, with a message calling on “Allah” to “use all your might and power against the Kafir,” an Arabic term for nonbelievers of Islam.

Alani was born in Iraq but is a U.S. citizen.

According to a co-worker, Alani also once admitted his brother was a member of ISIS.

Alani reportedly traveled to Iraq in March to visit this same brother.

A roommate of Alani’s disputed the claim that the Iraq trip was simply a friendly visit with his brother. Alani’s roommate told prosecutors Alani’s brother had been kidnapped and Alani went to find him.

Prosecutors undercut the roommate’s claims, showing photos of Alani’s visit in Baghdad, where he did not appear harmed or in distress and could be seen smiling for pictures with family members.

A review of Alani’s phone also determined someone had sent him a November 2018 article about Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes, which detailed vulnerabilities in the plane’s navigation system.

The sabotaged flight was reportedly canceled only after a pilot discovered problems with the plane’s navigation system.

An inspection of the canceled flight uncovered a “dark Styrofoam-type material,” which federal air marshal Jose Ruiz said “deliberately obstructed” the plane’s navigation system.

Ruiz said a man could be seen in surveillance footage, driving up to another plane in a white pickup truck and accessing the same department where its navigation system is housed. The man, identified as Alani, could be seen working in the compartment for about seven minutes before returning to the truck and driving away.

Alani admitted to the interference with the plane navigation system, which he said was a ploy to stall the flights and earn overtime work hours.

A judge weighed the new revelations against Alani’s claims, and said Alani showed sympathy to terrorists. The judge said Alani’s actions were “at minimum highly reckless” and “unconscionable.”

Alani has not been charged with a terror-related crime, but was denied bail, according to NBC 6 South Florida.

The current charges for sabotaging the plane could put Alani in federal prison for up to 20 years.