No Bail for American Airlines Mechanic Accused of Sabotage

A federal judge said “evidence of potential terrorism sympathies” is among the reasons for denying bail for the American Airlines mechanic accused of sabotaging an aircraft just prior to its departure in July. Judge Chris McAliley opted for pretrial detention for the mechanic, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, at a hearing in Miami court today, September 18, 2019. Alani’s attorneys argued that the 60-year-old should be allowed to go home on bail.

Alani was charged with sabotaging the American Airlines B-737. He told authorities after his arrest that the ongoing labor negotiations were foiling his chances to earn extra money in overtime. The aircraft crew noted the issue before takeoff and returned to the gate. It is reported that Alani did work overtime on the plane to correct the issue after it returned.

The sabotage he is accused of was gluing a piece of Styrofoam to the inside nose of the aircraft. This disabled components impacting cockpit gauges including the airspeed, a crucial flight parameter.

Alani, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Iraq, was employed as an aircraft mechanic for 30 years. He had no prior criminal record. While he was not charged with a terror-related crime, prosecutors said “the potential links to the Islamic State give rise to the possibility his actions had a darker purpose.”

If found guilty of “willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft” Alani could face a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Judge McAliley did not grant Alani release on bail because of his ability to travel abroad frequently and because he might still pose a danger to the community. “Alani admitted his actions to investigators and that the evidence overwhelmingly points to his guilt,” The judge also said. “What you did with this aircraft was highly reckless and unconscionable. Certainly there was a risk of a catastrophic disaster. I think it is likely you will be convicted.”