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AA Mechanic Charged with Sabotage Had ISIS Videos on His Phone

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The story of a disgruntled American Airlines mechanic deliberately sabotaging a plane ahead of a planned takeoff was scary to begin with, but it just took another terrifying turn.

Prosecuting attorneys in the case alleged Wednesday that the mechanic Ahmed Alani had downloaded a video from ISIS, a terrorist group of the Islamic State, on his cell phone and sent it to someone else, CNN reported. The prosecutors also alleged during Alani's bail hearing Wednesday that he had visited Iraq earlier this year and claimed he was visiting his brother, whom he called a member of ISIS. Alani was also accused of wiring a $700 payment to someone in Iraq.

Alani was arrested earlier this month in connection with the July 17 incident. Alani admitted to tampering with a Boeing 737's navigation system to cause issues and potentially collect overtime work amid a negotiating dispute between American and its mechanics' union. Pilots noticed the issue before takeoff, and no one was injured on the planned flight from Miami (MIA) to Nassau (NAS) in the Bahamas.

Alani was denied bail, and the judge in the case did not hold back.

“For you to take this step is shocking and unconscionable,” Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley said. “This was not a momentary, compulsive act. You had time to think about it. This was a crazy idea that you deliberated and went through with it.”

American fired Alani after his arrest, and the airline said they're cooperating in the case.


Bottom Line

The fact that a mechanic entrusted with protecting passengers' lives would intentionally damage a plane – for any reason – is unconscionable. Maybe it's a coincidence or a misunderstanding, but the mere possibility that mechanic may have some ties to terrorism is something else entirely.


Lead photo courtesy of Chris Lundberg

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