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American Airlines Employee Accused of Sabotaging Plane Over Union Dispute, Gets Arrested

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A Miami-based American Airlines maintenance worker who wanted to grab some overtime amid a stalled labor dispute has been charged with sabotaging a plane in July.

According to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani admitted that he tampered with the plane.

The plane had 150 people on board for a July 17 flight from Miami to the Bahamas when pilots saw a problem with the system that tracks flight information. They then aborted takeoff, the Associated Press reported.

When mechanics examined the plane, they found a piece of foam had been glued inside that is called the air data module. At that point, the FBI and its Joint Terrorism Task Force were called in, the complaint said.

American Airlines confirmed that this situation had occurred, but passengers still safely made it to their destination.

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“On July 17, flight 2834 from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, returned to the gate due to a maintenance issue. Passengers boarded a new aircraft which then re-departed for Nassau. At American we have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members and we are taking this matter very seriously,” American Airlines said in a statement to The Western Journal.

“At the time of the incident, the aircraft was taken out of service, maintenance was performed and after an inspection to ensure it was safe the aircraft was returned to service. American immediately notified federal law enforcement who took over the investigation with our full cooperation.”

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Alani, a veteran mechanic for American Airlines, came to the attention of investigators when video showed him approaching the plane and accessing the compartment where the system is located for several minutes.

Investigators pinpointed Alani because he has a distinctive limp that was recognized by workers who viewed the video, the complaint said.

When Alani was interviewed, he did not deny meddling with the system.

The complaint said Alani “admitted that he accessed the ADM” and “inserted a piece of foam into the ADM’s inlet where the line connects and that he applied super glue to the foam so as to prevent the foam from coming off.”

“Alani stated that his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers,” the complaint read.

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As proof of that, he told investigators that after sabotaging the plane “he went up to the flight deck of the Target Aircraft to check on whether the Target Aircraft’s system detected the tampered ADM.”

Alani indicated that his reason for tampering with the plane was not related to terrorism.

He said that an impasse between American Airlines and the mechanics’ unions was causing him financial trouble, so he tampered with the plane “to cause a delay or have the flight cancelled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work,” the complaint said.

Alani was charged with willfully damaging or disabling an aircraft. He is expected to appear in federal court in Miami on Friday.

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