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Hesham Mohamed HADAYET





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Los Angeles airport shooting - Terrorist act?
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: July 4, 2002
Date of birth: July 4, 1961
Victims profile: Victoria Hen (ticket agent) and Yakov Aminov (diamond importer)
Method of murder: Shooting (.45-caliber handgun)
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Status: Killed during the attack by an El Al security guard

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet (died July 4, 2002) was an Egyptian-American who on July 4, 2002, killed 2 people at Los Angeles International Airport.

The two people killed were Israelis at the El Al ticket counter at the airport, one of whom was identified as a ticket agent (Victoria Hen). Hadayet was killed during the attack by security personnel. The other Israeli national killed was Yakov Aminov, diamond importer.


Hadayet immigrated to the United States in 1992. He had a green card which allowed him to work as a limousine driver.

Hadayet was married with at least one child. At the time of the terrorist act, Hadayet was living in Irvine, California

Official designation as a terrorist act

In September 2002, federal investigators concluded that Hadayet hoped to influence U.S. government policy in favor of the Palestinians, and that the incident was a terrorist act.

In April 2003, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice confirmed the earlier conclusion that the incident fit the definition of terrorism.


Los Angeles airport shooting kills 3

July 5, 2002

A gunman opened fire Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport while standing in line at the ticket counter of Israel's El Al Airlines, officials said, killing two and wounding four others before an airline security officer shot him dead.

Authorities identified the gunman as 41-year-old Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who came to the United States from Egypt in 1992 and had been living in Irvine, California, for the last two years.

Hadayet was not a U.S. citizen but had a "green card" that allowed him to work in the U.S., authorities said. The gunman's identity was obtained through fingerprints and records on file with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, which had issued Hadayet a license to drive a limousine, the FBI said.

Hadayet's attack occurred on his birthday. According to his driver's license, he was born July 4, 1961. Hadayet was married with at least one child, authorities said.

"He was armed with a .45-caliber handgun which he used in the shooting, as well as a 9 mm handgun which he had on his possession," FBI spokesman Ron Iden said. "He also had in his possession what's described as a 6-inch knife."

Hadayet was also carrying extra ammunition and magazines for the guns, according to FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin.

In addition, a car possibly connected to the gunman was found Thursday evening near the terminal where the shooting took place. An LAPD bomb squad examined the vehicle as a precaution, Iden said.

Federal, law enforcement and city officials said it appeared the shooting was an isolated incident, with nothing to suggest otherwise.

"There is no indication of any terrorism connection in this matter right now, but again we also can't discount that until we know more," McLaughlin told reporters.

Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn added: "It appears this was an isolated incident." A Bush administration source concurred with that statement, adding that nothing suggested it was anything other than a criminal act.

Israeli officials view the incident differently.

"Though there is no clear-cut evidence that this gunman is related to a terror organization, it's the most logical assumption that when someone opens fire on an El Al counter in an international airport, most likely this is a terror attack," said Ephraim Sneh, Israeli transportation minister.

"We have warnings that these terrorist organizations [will] try to hit Israeli and Jewish targets all over world so we have no reason to assume that this is something different than a terrorist attack," Sneh said.

Attacker stabs security officer before being slain

Zvi Vapni, the Israeli deputy consul general, said El Al's chief security officer, Haim Sapir, tried to stop the gunman.

The gunman stabbed Sapir, and the security chief then fatally shot the suspect, Vapni said.

Iden gave the FBI's account of the incident:

"Two El Al security guards confronted the subject along with a private citizen who was in the area and began to subdue him. The subject was shot and died at the scene during that interaction."

McLaughlin praised the quick action of the three, saying many more would have been killed without the timely response.

El Al is the Israeli national carrier known for its strict security measures. In the Tom Bradley International Terminal, its ticket counter is in one of two banks of counters for a number of international airlines.

Gov. Gray Davis said he was "saddened and outraged" by what occurred, but he urged Californians not to let the incident stop them from celebrating Independence Day.

"Please continue on with your celebrations," he said.

An El Al official in Tel Aviv, Amos Shapira, said the airline had heightened security recently because of information received from both U.S. and Israeli authorities. Shapira did not elaborate on the information, saying only it was "recent."

The White House Office of Homeland Security did not issue a new security alert for the nation's airports following the shooting, administration officials said. The office has been in touch with the FBI, the Department of Transportation, and state and local authorities, a White House official said.

President Bush was notified about the shooting sometime during the day, the official said.

Victims were ticket agent, diamond importer

The gunman opened fire around 11:30 a.m. (2:30 p.m. EDT) inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal, a separate building from the domestic terminals, officials said.

He shot dead a 20-year-old female El Al ticket agent -- an Israeli national -- and a 46-year-old man who was a diamond importer, investigators said. Four others were injured, including a 61-year-old woman who was shot and wounded, a man who was pistol-whipped by the gunman, and the El Al security chief who was stabbed in the back, officials said

The diamond importer was identified by family members as Yakov Aminov, 46, an Israeli who lives in the Los Angeles area. He died while undergoing surgery for a single gunshot wound. His family said he was dropping off friends at the airport when the attack happened. The family members said Aminov's wife, who is pregnant, fainted when she heard her husband had died.

Two other men at the airport were taken to hospitals for "cardiac issues," said LAPD spokesman Alex Baez.

Shapira, the El Al official, said 10 passengers were at the counter at the time, checking in for a Los Angeles-Tel Aviv flight. Eighty passengers were already on the plane, which U.S. officials were holding on the ground until they completed their investigation, he said.

Baez said police were at "maximum deployment" because of the potential for terror attacks on the Fourth of July, meaning "every available officer who was not on vacation" was working.

Los Angeles Police Chief Martin Pomeroy said the high security profile would continue.

"We are going to have additional police officers very visible at this facility for the next few days, certainly through the weekend," Pomeroy said, "and I believe that every incoming passenger and every arriving passenger on an airplane will see an officer either from the LAPD or from the L.A. Department of Airport Police as they traverse this facility. We want people to feel safe and to feel comfortable."

The terminal was shut down immediately after the incident and everyone inside was evacuated, but at 4:15 p.m. passengers were allowed back in and operations at Bradley terminal were "almost back to normal" by Thursday evening, according to airport police chief Bernard Wilson.

Twenty outbound international flights were delayed by the shutdown, affecting about 6,000 passengers, Hahn said.

In December 1985 at the El Al airport ticket counter in Rome, terrorists threw grenades and opened fire with semiautomatic weapons, killing 17 people and wounding scores more.

The last shooting at a U.S. airport was in May when a Pensacola, Florida, man opened fire at a ticket counter at the main airport in New Orleans, killing one person and wounding another.

Authorities said Patrick Gott, a Muslim man who was charged in the shooting, told them he opened fire because people had made fun of his turban at a restaurant shortly before he went to the airport.


LAX Gunman's Wife Blames U.S.

Says Hatred Of Muslims Is Behind Shooter's Death

By Jaime Holguin - CBS News

July 8, 2002

The wife of an Egyptian gunman who shot and killed two people at Los Angeles International Airport said Hesham Hadayet called her hours before the shooting. Hala Mohammed Sadeq El-Awadly said Monday from Cairo, Egypt, that Hadayet gave no hint he was planning any violent act.

She said she did not believe her husband was responsible for the shooting and was being blamed because he was Arab and Muslim.

“He is a victim of injustice,” she said. “In America, they hate Islam and Arabs after Sept. 11.”

“Hesham called on July 4, it was his birthday. His voice was very beautiful,” she said. “He asked about the boys, asked me to take them out a lot and to review their lessons with them in order to be ready for next year.”

According to the FBI, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, 41, went to the ticketing counter of El Al, Israel's national airline, at Los Angeles International Airport July 4 carrying two handguns and a hunting knife. He opened fire at midmorning, killing two people and wounding three others before he was killed by an El Al security guard.

El-Awadly, also 41, said her husband called about midday Egypt time that day, which would have been early morning in California. She said it was not unusual for him to call at that time.

El-Awadly said she can't wear black, mourn or cry because she had not yet told her sons Omar 12, and Adam, 7, any of what had happened. She said she was thankful that their Arabic was so poor they could not understand media reports or the conversations of the adults around them, though the older boy has been asking why his father's name keeps coming up.

On Sunday in Los Angeles, hundreds of mourners turned out for the funerals of two Israelis who were gunned down.

Ticket agent Victoria Hen, 25, and Yaakov Aminov, 46, a diamond importer who had accompanied a friend to the airport, were killed by Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who walked up to the El Al counter and began firing.

Five other bystanders were wounded before an El Al security guard fatally shot 41-year-old Hadayet, who lived in suburban Irvine.

The FBI says it has not determined whether Hadayet - an immigrant who lived in California for a decade - harbored anti-Israeli feelings. Terrorism has not been ruled out as a motive but authorities are also considering the theory that Hayadet was despondent over his personal or business affairs.

Some friends and relatives of the two people who were killed say they are not wondering about the motive.

"Yaakov Aminov died because he was a Jew, because a culture of hatred has been fostered," said Rabbi Aaron Tendler, one of the speakers at Aminov's funeral.

More than 1,000 mourners crowded the Yad Avraham Synagogue in North Hollywood and spilled into the parking lot for the Sunday morning funeral service for Aminov.

A service for Victoria Hen later in the day drew about 500 mourners to a cemetery in a Los Angeles suburb.

Several rabbis and friends eulogized Aminov at the two-hour service, said Haim Cohen, a member of the predominantly Israeli congregation.

"He was everything in a human being that can be good - kindness, helping everybody, smiling at everybody, everybody to his house. I believe he was an angel," Cohen said. "He was something for all the community."

Family and friends carried Aminov's casket through the streets from his nearby home to the synagogue. Under a heavy police presence, mourners gathered in the parking lot of a strip mall where the synagogue is located.

As family members cried and recited the traditional kaddish, or prayer for the dead, a Los Angeles police helicopter passed overhead.

After the service, pallbearers loaded Aminov's casket into a waiting hearse bound for LAX and an El Al flight to Israel, where he is to be buried on Monday.

Family members said they begged Aminov not to go to the airport on a day when Americans were braced for possible attacks on the first Independence Day since Sept. 11.

Aminov, who emigrated from Israel to the United States 14 years ago, was waiting with his friend near the El Al counter when he was struck by a bullet.

He died shortly after arriving at the hospital. His wife, Anat, pregnant with their sixth child, fainted when she learned he had not survived his injuries. Aminov also had two children from a previous marriage.

Friends described Aminov as a soft-spoken, deeply religious man, known for his generosity and for helping found the Orthodox Jewish temple where he was mourned on Sunday.

The service for Hen took on political overtones because of the presence of protesters and Jewish leaders' demands that U.S. leaders declare the shootings a terrorist incident.

About 500 mourners, including Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, Israeli Consul General Yuval Rotem and El Al officials, packed the small chapel at Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills.

Hen's boyfriend Yaron Cohen, who clutched a white rose throughout a 30-minute graveside ceremony, had planned to propose marriage on July 5, said family spokesman Joe Knoller.

As pallbearers carried Hen's casket from the chapel, protesters held signs reading, "Stop this terrorism now."

At the service, Rotem criticized the Muslim community for failing to come forward and condemn the killings.

A number of Arab Americans in the Los Angeles area have, however, publicly condemned the killings as a crime. The Web site of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee posted a statement denouncing the attack in the "strongest possible terms."

The Council on American Islamic Relations in Anaheim is also speaking out.

"We are horrified by what happened," says Sabiha Khan, spokeswoman for the group. "We pray for the victims and their families because nobody should ever die like that."

Within the Muslim community, there are fears that the July 4 shooting could revive anti-Arab discrimination experienced in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

"We hope that people can make the distinction between one crazy person and a whole community of six or seven million people in the United States," said Khan.

Israelis continue to view Thursday's attack as an act of terrorism although U.S. officials downplayed the rampage as an isolated incident.

"You have to understand, the whole Jewish community in Los Angeles is taking this very hard and they are showing it with their feet," Knoller said.

Hen, who was born in Israel and came with her family to live in the United States in 1990, began working at the El Al ticket counter only a month ago. She was shot once in the chest as she sat behind her desk.

According to The Los Angeles Times, El Al is responding to the attack by beefing up security at airport terminals throughout the world.



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