Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani
Place of Birth: Iraq;
Nationality: Naturalized U.S citizen;
Alani is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Iraq who had been an airline mechanic for 30 years. 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.
He pleaded guilty to sabotaging a jetliner with 150 people aboard, causing the pilot to abort the flight just before takeoff at Miami International Airport.
Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani entered the plea in Miami federal court. He previously admitted to investigators that he committed the sabotage, insisting it was an attempt to gain overtime to fix the American Airlines jet – which he did.
Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani has been identified as the American Airlines mechanic who admitted to tampering with a plane’s navigation system before it was scheduled to take off from Miami International Airport in Florida.
The incident happened on July 17, 2019. The plane, with 150 people on board, was supposed to fly to Nassau, Bahamas. But the pilots received an error alert after powering up the engines. The flight was aborted and no one was hurt.
Alani told investigators that he had wanted to cause a delay in an attempt to earn overtime pay. He insisted that he had not wanted to hurt anyone. But prosecutors have questioned that motive after finding evidence that Alani had potential ties to terrorism.
The complaint filed in federal court explains that Alani was seen on video driving a white pickup truck to the Target Aircraft, which was parked at Concourse D, Gate 49 on July 17, 2019. Alani accessed the navigation system for about seven minutes, from 9:28 until 9:35 a.m.
This action was suspicious because there were no pending work orders for that particular aircraft at the time. In addition, Alani’s work was typically limited to “disabled aircraft parked in the hangar area needing repairs.” It was unusual for him to be accessing an aircraft on the concourse.
One of the clues that led American Airlines and federal investigators to Alani was his particular walk. The person on the video walked with a noticeable limp.
Alani had worked a double shift on that day. The complaint explains that Alani’s normal shift was 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. But on July 17, Alani began a second shift, which ran from 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., according to American Airlines. He had switched shifts with a co-worker.
Many of Alani’s actions that day were captured on surveillance video and he was identified by fellow workers.
Investigators said Alani also 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.
Despite that evidence, Alani was never charged with any terrorism-related crime. He pleaded guilty to attempted destruction of an aircraft, which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence. Alani will likely get less prison time when he is sentenced March 4.
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