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American Airlines sabotage mechanic 'has possible IS links'

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An American Airlines mechanic charged with sabotaging an aircraft in July has possible links to the Islamic State (IS) group, US prosecutors say.

Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, 60, has a brother in IS and had IS propaganda on his phone, they said.

The plane, with 150 people on board, did not take off after the pilots received an error message.

Mr Alani previously told police he had wanted to cause a delay or have the flight cancelled to get overtime work.

He did not intend to cause any harm to either the plane or the passengers, he is quoted as saying in court papers.

What are the alleged IS links?

The 60-year-old, originally from Iraq, is being held without bail after prosecutors argued he presented a flight risk. He has not been charged with a terrorism-related crime.

Assistant US Attorney Maria Medetis said a video showing people being shot had been sent from his phone and Mr Alani had allegedly told the recipient that God wanted harm to come to non-Muslims.

She said it raised the possibility that his actions to damage the plane had had a deadly purpose.

Two witnesses gave differing accounts about Mr Alani’s brother – one colleague said Mr Alani had travelled to Iraq to meet his brother, who was an IS member, but his roommate said Mr Alani had travelled there because his brother had been kidnapped.

Prosecutors did not provide evidence that Mr Alani had a brother in IS, media reports said.

What did Alani do to the plane?

The plane was scheduled to fly from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas on 17 July – but pilots aborted take-off after receiving an error message about the flight computer.

Upon inspection, a piece of foam was found glued inside a navigation system part which stopped it from functioning. It was reportedly inside the tube leading from the outside of the plane to its air data module, a system that reports aircraft speed, pitch and other critical flight data

Mr Alani told authorities that he was upset at a stalled contract dispute between the union and American Airlines, which he said had affected him financially.

The naturalised US citizen, who has worked as an airline mechanic for 30 years, did eventually work overtime to help fix the plane.

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