On September 6, American Airlines (AA) mechanic Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was arrested and charged in federal district court in Miami with sabotage of a commercial aircraft. Video footage revealed he was the reason behind a "mechanical" difficulty that forced cancellation of a flight from Miami to the Bahamas back in mid-July. (See here and here.)
He has been charged with, and allegedly confessed to, spraying foam glue into a tube used for navigation instruments. This is no small matter — those instruments are particularly necessary in hazardous or turbulent weather conditions.
Very few of the media articles I've examined spoke to the man's background — a curious, but all too typical horse-blinders approach many journalists take these days whenever a case might depict immigrants in a bad light. (The same thing happened recently in a case involving several illegal alien MS-13 gang members arrested and accused of murder in Baltimore County, Md. There was at first a cone of silence that descended over the arrest of these "Maryland men".)
In this instance, an interesting smattering of facts have come out in the days following Alani's arrest: He originally came to the United States from Iraq as the spouse of a U.S. citizen who petitioned for him; he subsequently naturalized, in 1992; when he was arraigned, his English was so poor that the judge ordered an Arabic interpreter; and at least one news outlet says that he was at one point a mechanic at both American and Alaska Airlines, but Alaska fired him for "mistakes" and irregularities of some kind (not further explained), as well as for submitting fraudulent time sheets. Subsequent to being terminated, he filed a discrimination complaint — one might guess unsuccessfully, given that the firing was not reversed.
There are so many things to chew on in that smorgasbord of factoids.
I can't help but wonder about his marriage. Was it arranged, and/or was there a vast disparity in age? Are they still wed, or was it a marriage of convenience?
What about his naturalization? How is it that he passed the examinations (27 years ago!), which are supposed to require competent English language skills before one can assume the mantle of citizenship? It sure seems like those responsible for immigration and naturalization matters at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have ample reason to go back and do a thorough post-audit of Alani's file. Want to beef up your vetting? Take the time to look at how your mistakes are made, and learn from them.
And if his command of English is so poor that the judge called for an interpreter, how could he possibly be working as a competent mechanic, all of whose manuals, instruction guides, tutorials, and courses would be in English? How could he have interacted with pilots, other mechanics, and the host of others involved in airplane maintenance? What does American Airlines have to say about this? So far, it would appear no one in the media has asked, even though post-arrest, American immediately issued a press release saying in pertinent part:
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. 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.
Then there's that Alaska Airlines firing in 2008: In light of this most recent criminal malfeasance, it sure seems like somebody needs to go back and carefully reexamine those past mechanical mistakes at Alaska, or that an enterprising investigative journalist might want to dig a little further even if officialdom and the corporate world don't.
Also puzzling: American Airlines had to know about Alani being terminated from Alaska Airlines; it became a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation at one point (though why isn't clear). What's more, part of the basis for his firing was that he claimed to be on the clock at both airlines at the same time so that he could double-dip. So why did American Airlines keep him on? The question begs to be asked, especially in light of American's public statement.
In fact, why did the FAA or Transportation Security Administration continue to credential him to work in an environment as sensitive as an airport in this post-9/11 world after his 2008 firing? Were one and all more afraid of a discrimination complaint than they were the safety of passengers?