US District Judge Marcia G. Cooke sentenced Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani to 3 years in prison after he confessed to sabotaging an American Airline jet that planned to carry 150 passengers on July 17, 2019. That was a whopping 6 months more than defense counsel had requested. The airline mechanic claimed that he did it so that he could get overtime to repair the malfunction.
The deck was stacked somewhat in Ahmed Alani’s favor to receive a light sentence for sabotaging an American Airlines jet that could have cost 150 lives:
• The US Attorney’s office fully accepted Ahmed Alani’s explanation that he impaired the jet because he wanted overtime and never intended to hurt anyone. Miami Herald reports: “Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Hummel reinforced that point by saying that clearly Alani intended to tamper with the aircraft’s guidance system, but it was not to cause it to crash after takeoff. ‘I don’t see that rising to the level of intent to bring down the plane, but I do see it as extreme recklessness,’ Hummel told the judge.” The US Attorney requested a prison sentence of approximately 36 to 42 months.
• The US Attorney declined to charge Ahmed Alani with terror. Miami Herald reports: “I don’t have a linkage of Mr. Alani being a member of ISIS,” Hummel told the judge, saying the case is not related to terrorism. However, Washington Times reports: Investigators said Alani also had Islamic State videos on his phone depicting mass murders and that he traveled to Iraq in March but did not disclose that to the FBI after his arrest. Despite that evidence, Alani was never charged with any terrorism-related crime.
• Judge Cooke has a history of giving light sentences. The New York Times reports that Judge Marcia G. Cooke gave Jose Padilla a light sentence because she found no evidence linking him to specific acts of terrorism. Judge Cooke’s sentencing of Jose Padilla was reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Richard Shafer, the pilot of the American Airlines jet that Ahmed Alani sabotaged filed a Declaration with court. His declaration states in part: “I strongly disagree with the opinion expressed by Mr. Brandt (Defense expert) ‘there would have been no danger to the passengers and crew” if Flight 2834 had in fact taken off with the ADM obstruction in place. In contrast to Mr. Brandt’s opinion, I firmly believe that the deliberate tampering with the ADM of my aircraft would have exposed my passengers and crew to a higher level of danger had the aircraft gone airborne. If the malfunctions that I, along with my co-pilot, experienced on the ground shortly before being cleared for takeoff had continued while we were in flight, the action of tampering with the ADM would have led to a number of malfunctions that would have reduced the margin of safety for my plane…”
Florida Family Association sent out an email alert on September 23, 2019 that encouraged thousands of people to send emails to thank Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley for denying bail to Ahmed Ali. The emails from FFA supporters were also sent to Judge Cooke with the hope of encouraging her to stand strong for public safety and not allow the Islamophobia false narrative to influence her rulings.
Florida Family Association sent out several email alerts that asked thousands of people to send emails to urge Judge Cooke to make public safety the priority in her sentencing of Ahmed Ali.
A special thanks to everyone who sent an email to Judge Cooke. Judge Cooke’s sentence could have been even lighter given the appearance of influence of the Islamophobia false narrative on the US Attorney's office. She could have sentenced him to time served. Magistrate Judge Chris M. McAliley ordered pre-trial detention for Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani on September 20, 2019 because he was a "flight risk and a danger to the community." He has been in prison since his arrest.