- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 7, 2002

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly says the Fourth of July incident at Los Angeles International Airport, in which an Egyptian man shot and killed two persons at the ticket counter of Israel's El Al airline, "could very well" have been an act of terrorism.
Interviewed yesterday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," Mr. Kelly was asked if he believes it was a terrorist attack or an "isolated" episode. Law enforcement officials have not determined the motive for the killings but are not ruling out the possibility it was a terrorist attack.
"We don't know enough yet, but clearly he [the gunman] went to that location. He wanted to kill people who were going to Israel or had some contact with Israel. So it's certainly a major cause for concern, and it could very well be a terrorist act," Mr. Kelly said.
The shooter, who was killed by an El Al security guard after he opened fire, carried no identification on him. But through fingerprints and records on file with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, he was identified as 41-year-old Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who arrived in this country from Egypt in 1992. Hadayet was not a U.S. citizen but had a green card, which allowed him to work. He lived in Irvine, Calif., working as a limousine driver.
Mr. Kelly said the gunman's identity, "his contacts, the mosque that he goes to, because apparently he is a Muslim, these sorts of things are going to be very important" in determining why the shootings occurred.
Asked about Mr. Kelly's assertion that the shooting could have been a terrorist attack, Matt McLaughlin, spokesman for the FBI in Los Angeles, said in an interview: "We have not made a determination [as to motive], and we won't until we complete the investigation and have overwhelming evidence" of a specific cause, as opposed to other possibilities.
"What is the New York police commissioner's definition of a terrorist attack? To characterize the motive as anything now would be really speculative and could be highly inaccurate and imprecise. That's why we're doing the investigation," said Mr. McLaughlin.
He said it's still uncertain whether the airport rampage, which killed 25-year-old El Al employee Victoria Hen and 46-year-old bystander Yaakov Aminov and wounded five others, was a terrorist act or a hate crime or was related to other issues.
"I wouldn't say this was a random act of violence," Mr. McLaughlin said yesterday.
Some initial news reports indicated the gunman who wore a business suit and was armed with 45-caliber and 9 mm handguns with extra magazines in his pockets and a 6-inch hunting knife complained about having lost his job or having experienced paperwork problems at the ticket counter. But Mr. McLaughlin yesterday discounted those reports.
"From witnesses we've interviewed, and they've been in the hundreds, the credible accounts don't indicate there were any kind of discussion or conflict before he opened fire. One person who was standing very close to the gunman said he made no utterance before he began shooting," the FBI spokesman said.
On CNN, Mr. Kelly was asked if he thinks it would be prudent to extend the security perimeter at airports all the way to the sidewalk to prevent more incidents like the one in Los Angeles.
"I think it's impractical right now, just the way airports are constructed," he said. Mr. Kelly added he's also certain there would be "significant resistance on the part of the airline industry" to such a proposal.
He noted yesterday that he was on a committee put together by Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, which considered that option. But he said the airline industry was convinced it would really hurt business.
He noted that most of the flights today are less than 300 miles, and that the airlines are convinced many people making such short flights would drive to avoid additional airport security hassles.
The police commissioner was named to his post by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Kelly is the first person to hold that position for a second, separate tenure. He previously was commissioner from 1992 to 1994.
In the interview, Mr. Kelly enumerated steps New York City has taken to help prevent another terrorist attack like the one that occurred on September 11. "We've put a counterterrorism division in our police force. We've created a new, robust intelligence division. I think we're using our resources smarter than we ever have before," he said.


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