|[an error occurred while processing this directive]||
FBI: Gunman went to Los Angeles airport intending to kill
By Ryan Pearson, Associated Press, 7/5/02
LOS ANGELES — The Egyptian immigrant who gunned down two people at Israel's El Al ticket counter went to the Los Angeles airport intending to kill, the FBI said Friday.
"It appears he went there with the intention of killing. Why he did that is what we are still trying to determine," FBI agent Richard Garcia said one day after the shootout at the nation's third-busiest airport.
Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, a 41-year-old limousine driver, was shot to death by an El Al guard.
The slayings came on the Fourth of July, when the possibility of terror attacks had put security on high alert around the country. Federal officials, however, withheld judgment on whether to label the attack as terrorism.
"There is no evidence, no indication at this time that this is terrorists," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Friday. He added that President Bush extends his condolences to the victims.
Earlier, FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin said: "We can't rule that out, but there's nothing to indicate terrorism at this point." He suggested it might be a hate crime, as did Garcia.
"We are not ruling out hate crime. We are not ruling out terrorism completely and we are not ruling out other types of issues that it may be a random act of violence," Garcia said. "That all goes to the motive."
Israeli officials said they consider the shooting a terror attack.
Ticket agent Victoria Hen, 25, and Yaakov Aminov, 46, a jeweler and father of eight who was dropping off a friend, were fatally shot before two El Al guards overwhelmed Hadayet. Travelers dove to the ground or scattered for cover as the gunfire erupted.
The guards and a woman were wounded; another woman suffered heart problems.
Hadayet listed July 4 as his birthday on one of two driver's licenses. The FBI released his name late Thursday as police in suburban Irvine, 35 miles southeast of the airport, went to his apartment to check on his family. Hadayet's wife and two sons had gone to Egypt for the summer, neighbors said.
Federal agents later arrived with a search warrant to examine the apartment, from which Hadayet ran his livery service, Five Star Limo. They carried away a computer, books, binders, and boxes and bags of material.
In Cairo, Hassan Mostafa Mahfouz, a retired general who is married to Hadayet's aunt, said the suspect's wife and sister were taken in for questioning by Egyptian intelligence. Mahfouz said the news of the shooting left him in disbelief.
Police also visited the apartment of Hadayet's father, in a middle-income area of Cairo, security guards at the building said.
Neighbors said Hadayet was quiet but became incensed when an upstairs neighbor hung large American and Marine Corps flags from a balcony above his front door after Sept. 11. The flags remained there Thursday night.
That neighbor declined to talk to reporters, but another neighbor, Steve Thompson, said Hadayet "complained about it to the apartment manager. He thought it was being thrown in his face."
Hadayet, who also went by the last name Ali, had California driver's licenses listing two different birth dates -- April 7, 1961, and July 4, 1961 -- according to the FBI.
The FBI also released a photograph of Hadayet that was taken for gun registrations.
The gunman carried a .45-caliber semiautomatic Glock pistol, a 9 mm handgun and a 6-inch knife, but had no identification, said Ron Iden, assistant director of the Los Angeles FBI office.
"He had extra ammunition and magazines ready to go," McLaughlin said.
Dr. David Parkus heard five or six shots and turned from the Singapore Airlines counter to see the gunman wrestling with a guard. A second guard charged and shot the gunman, Parkus said. As the gunman collapsed, Parkus said, he saw a hunting knife fall to the floor.
One guard was hit on the forehead with the butt of the gun and cut on the right arm, and the second guard was cut on the lower back, stabbed on the left thigh, and had a superficial gunshot wound to his right thigh, said Parkus, a trauma surgeon from Texas.
Parkus said he helped hold the gunman as he died, then performed CPR on two victims.
Thousands of people evacuated the international terminal and waited for hours to resume their travels. Thirty-five flights were delayed, affecting 10,500 passengers, during one of the airport's busiest travel periods, officials said.
Hadayet's car was found in a nearby parking structure, triggering an evacuation there until a bomb squad found nothing unusual in the black Mercedes.
Hakin Hasidh, 43, of Dusseldorf, Germany, said he was standing in the line next to the El Al counter. He heard two shots, turned and saw the gunman firing.
"The first couple of shots, everybody just stood there, frozen like I was," Hasidh said. "It's really hard to tell whether he was aiming at the counter, at people behind the counter or at people in line."
A source close to Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Peres' granddaughter was in a different part of the terminal at the time of the attack.
The attack came just days after announcement of a $9.6 billion airport redesign proposal that would require everyone coming to the airport to go through screening at a remote site before boarding trains to the terminals.
Last year, an Algerian trained in terrorist camps financed by Osama bin Laden was convicted of plotting to blow up Los Angeles International at the height of the millennium holiday travel period. Ahmed Ressam was arrested in Washington state on Dec. 14, 1999, while entering the country from Canada in a car with a trunk full of explosives.
Associated Press writer Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.