The saga of the American Airlines mechanic charged with sabotaging a plane took another disturbing turn Wednesday when a federal judge in Florida denied bail over concerns about the worker's potential terrorism ties.
Prosecutors cited two factors in pushing for the continued jailing of Abdul-Majeed Maroud Ahmed Alani, a 60-year-old mechanic who was with American since 1988 and previously worked for Alaska Airlines: he has a brother in Iraq who may be involved with the Islamic State extremist group and has made statements about wishing harm on non-Muslims, according to the Miami Herald and the Associated Press.
“I have evidence before me that suggests you could be sympathetic to terrorists,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley said during the bond hearing, the Herald reported.
McAliley called Alani's alleged tampering with the aircraft “highly reckless and unconscionable,'' the newspaper said.
Since Alani's arrest, the Herald said, investigators with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force found out Alani lied about taking a trip to Iraq in March to visit his brother and that he told a co-worker at American this summer that his brother was a member of the extremist group and was kidnapped.
Also reportedly found: Alani's smart phone had a "disturbing'' ISIS video on it that he shared and that he sent $700 to someone in Iraq, where he was born and has family.
Alani is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Iraq. He is not charged with a terror-related crime.
His court appointed attorney suggested the government is overblowing Alani's motives. The mechanic previously told investigators he was only trying to get the flight canceled or delayed, not hurt passengers. He said he was motivated by a bitter labor dispute between American and its mechanics that has canceled thousands of flights and hurt overtime.
"We don't believe he intentionally endangered the safety of people'' on that flight, said Christian Dunham, an assistant federal public defender representing Alani.
"I think the government is blowing this out of proportion.''
American Airlines sabotage saga: What we know and safety questions answered
Alani is charged with sabotaging a Boeing 737 with 150 people aboard at Miami International Airport in July by tampering with a key computer system before the flight.
The aircraft, which was bound for the Bahamas, did not take off and no one was injured.
American Airlines terminated Alani last week after the FAA revoked his mechanic's license in an emergency order, according to spokesman Ross Feinstein.
Alani is due to be arraigned Friday.
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: American Airlines sabotage: Mechanic accused of terrorism ties