Grand jury indicts former American Airlines mechanic accused of sabotaging flight

MIAMI – A grand jury indicted a former American Airlines mechanic on Thursday who is accused of sabotaging a plane with 150 passengers at Miami International Airport.

The mechanic, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, 60, was arrested on Sept. 5. According to the indictment, the grand jury charged him with willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft. If found guilty, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. 

Although he wasn't charged with a terror-related crime, prosecutors said Alani saved videos showing Islamic State propaganda, and made statements about wanting Allah to hurt non-Muslims and about a brother in Iraq who has links to ISIS. 

An American Airlines mechanic who is accused of sabotaging a flight that was taking off from Miami International Airport had worked on four other planes after that incident, federal authorities said.

"You may be very sympathetic to terrorists," U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris M. McAliley said during a bond hearing Wednesday.

Alani allegedly said he wanted the flight to be delayed because he wanted overtime work, but investigators believe he had a more sinister plot. McAliley ordered Alani to be held without bond. 

Any attack on Iran by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will spark an “all-out war,” Tehran’s top diplomat warned Thursday, raising the stakes as Washington and Riyadh weigh a response to a drone-and-missile strike on the kingdom’s oil industry that shook global energy markets.

American Airlines reported the sabotage to the FBI and fired Alani on Sept. 7. Federal agents said Alani confessed to tampering with the air data module of a Boeing 737-800 on July 17 before it departed from MIA to Nassau.

Alani, who has worked as an airline mechanic for 30 years, caused Flight 2834's pilot to abort takeoff when the system that produces critical flight data malfunctioned, as the plane approached the runway, investigators said. 

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The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.