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American Airlines mechanic accused of sabotage has potential terror links, prosecutors say

Thomas Barrabi

Prosecutors presented evidence Tuesday against the American Airlines mechanic charged with sabotaging a plane in July with 150 passengers aboard may have been sympathetic to terrorist groups.

Prosecutors said the mechanic, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, had videos on his cell phone depicting Islamic State members committing murder. Alani, a U.S. citizen, traveled to Iraq in March sent a $700 wire transfer to someone in the country. Alani has a brother who lives in Iraq and has with potential links to the Islamic State group, the U.S. attorney said.

A federal judge denied Alani's bail, and he will be held in custody until his trial and is expected to enter a plea on Friday.

"You may be very sympathetic to terrorists," U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley told Alani at the hearing. "That's very disconcerting."

Alani’s attorney said he should be released on $200,000 bail, arguing that as an experienced plane mechanic, Alani knew his alterations would prevent the plane from taking off and would not put passengers at risk.

He faces up to 20 years in prison for the alleged sabotage attempt, but he has not been charged with any terror-related crime.

Alani, 60, allegedly glued a piece of Styrofoam over a component in the plane’s nose in a way that would have affected the pilots’ ability to gauge key flight information, such as airspeed and pitch. The mechanic said he took the action because he was upset that contract negotiations between union representatives and the airline had impacted his ability to work overtime and make more money.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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