- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 6, 2002

Law enforcement officials say the Egyptian man who gunned down two persons at Los Angeles International Airport before being shot to death went there deliberately to kill.
But there is no indication that the shooting was an act of terrorism, although they are not ruling that out as a motive.
"It appears that he went there for the intention of killing people," said Richard Garcia, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation. "Why he did that is still undetermined; that's what we're trying to figure out."
Authorities have searched his apartment and are talking to family, friends and associates to determine why the man identified as 41-year-old Hesham Mohamed Hadayet opened fire at the Israel's El Al airlines ticket counter Thursday, killing 25-year-old Victoria V. Hen, an El Al employee, and 46-year-old bystander Yaakov Aminov, before being shot and killed by an El Al security guard.
The FBI has taken command of the investigation, with the Los Angeles Police Department acting as an assisting agency. While the FBI has not ruled out the possibility that the shootings were a terrorist act, authorities said investigators are more inclined to believe that it was a hate crime.
"Right now, we do not have any indication that this individual acted in an act of terrorism," Mr. Garcia said. He later added: "we're not ruling out hate crimes, we're not ruling out terrorism completely and we're not ruling out other types of issues that may be a random act of violence."
Mr. Garcia stressed that authorities need the public's help in determining the motive and urged anyone who knew Hadayet to come forward.
The White House yesterday also said that the incident did not appear to be terrorist-related.
"There is no evidence, no indication at this time that this is terrorists," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said. He added that President Bush extends his condolences to the victims' families.
Israeli officials are treating it as an act of terrorism, however, in part because they generally treat acts of violence against Israelis as constituting terrorism, while U.S. officials take a more cautious approach.
Hadayet, who authorities said was armed during the airport shooting with .45-caliber and 9 mm handguns and a 6-inch knife, carried no identification on him at the time of the shootings. He was identified through fingerprints and records on file with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which had granted him a license to drive a limousine.
Five other persons sustained injuries in the rampage, including a 61-year old woman who was shot in the ankle and one of the El Al security guards, who was stabbed with a knife Hadayet had. Hadayet was killed after one El Al security guard wrestled with him and another shot him. Mr. Garcia praised the guards' actions and said they prevented others from being killed.
The incident took place on the Fourth of July, when the country was on edge over the possibility of terrorist attacks.
Hadayet was not a U.S. citizen, but had been issued a green card after his arrival in this country from Egypt, which allowed him to work. He came to the United States in 1992 and had been residing in Irvine, Calif., working as a limousine driver.
He has a wife and child, who traveled to Egypt last week before the shooting. Mr. Garcia said U.S. officials are working with Egyptian officials to talk to family members.
FBI agents, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service officers, and Irvine, Calif., police searched Hadayet's apartment after the shooting and confiscated his personal automobile, a black Mercedes. The search continued yesterday into the early hours of the morning.
Removed from his home were a computer terminal, several unidentified paper binders, and a number of cardboard boxes and books, law enforcement authorities said. Mr. Garcia said they are in the process of getting a warrant to search the contents of the computer.
Authorities said a bumper sticker attached to the door of the ground-floor apartment read: "Read the Koran."
Hadayet had two California driver's licenses, authorities said, one that identified him as Hesham Mohamed Hadayet and another as Hesham Mohamed Ali. The licenses listed separate birth dates of April 7, 1961, and July 4, 1961, they said.
Mr. Garcia said authorities are going with the July 4th birthday.
He also explained the various categories the crime could fall into. He said if Hadayet acted alone because of anti-Israel views or any sort of prejudice he held, that could be considered a hate crime. The shooting would be categorized as an act of terrorism if Hadayet acted as part of a larger extremist terrorist group, or if he was starting such a group on his own, Mr. Garcia said.
But an Israeli official in Washington disagreed. "The Israelis do see [Thursdays] incident as terrorism an armed individual deliberately targeting the Israeli national airline," he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The Israeli official said even if Hadayet acted alone and was motivated by anti-Israel prejudices, that would still be considered terrorism.
But he added: "Every country has its own legal definitions. Between us and the Americans there is full cooperation on this."
Mr. Garcia agreed, saying that the Israeli government starts with the presumption that such an act is terrorism, until proven otherwise. "We cannot make such presumptions," he said. "We have to base information on an extensive investigation to lead us to what is the motive that's just a difference with how we view things."
Earlier this week, the FBI sent nationwide advisories to law enforcement agencies concerning heightened communications between terrorist operatives overseas as the Fourth of July holiday approached.
The advisories noted no specific threats against U.S. targets, although security precautions were heightened nationwide including fighter-jet patrols over Washington and New York City.


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