Mechanic Pleads Guilty To Sabotaging Jetliner
NBC affiliate, NBCDFW in Dallas, reports that an airline mechanic has pleaded guilty to having sabotaged a jetliner that took off on July 17th from Miami with 150 people on board, causing the pilot to abort the flight just before takeoff.
Before a federal court in Miami, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, a naturalized citizen from Iraq, entered a plea of guilty. Alani told investigators that his sabotage of the plane was an attempt to gain overtime pay from his employer, American Airlines.
While the 60-year-old defendant had worked as an airline mechanic for 30 years, prosecutors believe that the motivation for the sabotage was because Alani has a brother in Iraq who is believed to be a member of the Muslim extremist group, Islamic State or ISIS.
In addition to the Islamic State videos that were found on Alani’s phone by investigators, he had also traveled to Iraq in March but did not reveal his trip to the FBI. The federal government, however, has not filed any charges of terrorism against Alani.
According to documents filed with the court, Alani is accused of having glued Styrofoam inside of the nose cone of the Boeing 737, thus disabling equipment that allows the flight crew to monitor the airspeed, altitude, and pitch of the aircraft. Surveillance video captured many of Alani’s actions and coworkers were able to identify him in the footage.
Had the pilot not aborted the Miami flight that was headed to Nassau, Bahamas, it may have caused the plane to crash. American Airlines issued a statement saying that Alani’s actions were not representative of the 15,000 Technical Operations professionals that it employs and that the company takes passenger safety seriously every day.
Alani’s attorney, Jonathan Meltz, told the court that before the incident, Alani had led a law-abiding life and that he was only trying to provide for his family. No mention of potential terrorism charges was raised when Alani appeared before the court.