FBI: Gunman went to LA airport intending to kill

By Andrew Bridges, The Associated Press
Saturday July 06, 2002

LOS ANGELES — The heavily armed Egyptian immigrant who fatally shot two people at the ticket counter of Israel’s national airline went to the Los Angeles airport to kill, the FBI said Friday. 

“Why he did that is what we are still trying to determine,” FBI special agent Richard Garcia said. 

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet was the fourth person in line at the El Al counter when he opened fire, authorities said. He fired 10 or 11 bullets before he was fatally shot himself by an airline security guard, as hundreds of people dived for cover. 

Three other people were wounded, including a guard who was stabbed by Hadayet as he fought with the wounded gunman. A fourth bystander suffered heart trouble after the attack. 

In his pockets, authorities found an extra magazine for each gun, FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin said. “I think it’s safe to say he planned to reload his guns and didn’t get the chance to do it,” McLaughlin said. 

Hadayet was identified by tracing the weapons he used, a law enforcement source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Hadayet had owned one of the guns “for years” and purchased the other a couple of months ago, the source said. 

The shooting could have been a random act of violence or a hate crime, Garcia said. He said authorities also had not ruled out a number of potential motives, including terrorism, though Hadayet, 41, was not on any FBI or federal aviation “watch” lists. 

Israeli officials said they would consider the attack an act of terror unless it was proven otherwise. A source close to Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Peres’ granddaughter was in the terminal at the time of the attack. 

Hadayet was armed with a .45-caliber semiautomatic Glock pistol, a 9 mm handgun and a 6-inch knife, authorities said. The FBI said it wasn’t clear whether he acted alone or why he had drivers’ licenses with two last names — Hadayet and Ali. 

Abdul Zahav, a man who said he worked for Hadayet until he was fired two years ago, said Hadayet once told him he hated all Israelis. 

“He kept all his anger inside him. So he can’t hold it anymore, he can’t hold it anymore,” Zahav said. 

Hadayet’s California licenses also had two birth dates, July 4, 1961 and April 7, 1961. Authorities believe the discrepancy was caused when he filled out his application and wrote 4-7-61 instead of 7-4-61. 

Relatives said Hadayet was a Cairo-born accountant who ran a limousine company out of his Irvine apartment. Hassan Mostafa Mahfouz, who is married to Hadayet’s aunt, said Hadayet had studied commerce at Ain Shams University in Cairo, and had worked as an accountant in a bank before he left for the United States in 1992.