Thursday, July 18, 2002

More thoughts on the LAX El Al shooting:

  1. A report states: "LAPD Lieutenant Horace Franks said two people were in LAPD custody for questioning. They were likely to be turned over to the FBI as the federal agency assumed the lead on the investigation." What happened to these people?

  2. Another report states: "The assailant was identified on the basis of information found in his car at an airport parking lot some eight hours after the shooting. US authorities had spent hours trying to pin down the gunman's identity and motive." If he wasn't carrying any identification and it took eight hours to find information in his car, how did they know so quickly that he was 52 (especially since he was 41)?

  3. The Egyptian account is given in this report: "Egyptian security services have told Hadayet's father that the shooting incident 'was due to financial problems with El Al', his cousin, Emad al-Omda, said on Saturday. The Israeli airline had been late in paying for two limousines it had rented from Hadayet's service, he said. 'He is a pious Muslim, but he is not at all extremist. The proof of this is that he agreed to work with the Israeli company El Al.'" On the other hand, it has apparently been reported in a London-based Arabic newspaper called Al-Hayat that Hadayet had met with suspected terrorist Ayman al-Zawahri, the founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and possibly the leader of al-Qaeda, in 1995 and 1998. (By the way, doesn't it seem that the Egyptians have a lot to answer for? Besides Ayman al-Zawahri, others to come out of Egypt of current interest are Arafat, Mohamed Atta, Ali Mohamed, the co-pilot of EgyptAir Flight 990, and now, Hadayet.)

  4. Another article states: "A witness to the July 4 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport says he heard the gunman twice calmly say 'Allah u Akbar' before he began firing at the El Al Israel Airlines ticket counter." On the other hand, five to ten witnesses who were at least as close did not hear the gunman say anything.

  5. Another article states: "LAPD Lt. Horace Frank told reporters that two individuals were in custody and being questioned; it remained unclear as to whether the gunman acted alone." In what may explain reports of a second suspect, it goes on to say: "There were unconfirmed reports that a second suspect was being sought, however Baez said police on the scene might have been exercising extreme caution in following up on reports from stunned passengers, many of whom did not speak English." It went on to say: "One man, wearing long sideburns and a blue shirt, was seen being taken away in the back of a police car. His role in the incident was not revealed." However, the most interesting statement is the following: "A Miami man identified only as 'Mr. Park,' who was on his way to Korea, described pandemonium in the area as passengers hit the deck or bolted for the exits. 'I thought he was running away and the police were chasing him,' Park said." This seems to be inconsistent with the Official Story that he was apprehended by El Al security right at the ticket counter.

Witnesses are notoriously unreliable, but there are enough inconsistencies between various reported witness and police accounts that it seems likely that at the very least the police have not released the whole story of the LAX shooting. Besides Hadayet, there appears to be involvement by a man of 52, possibly with a pony tail, and a man wearing long sideburns and a blue shirt. I don't know whether Hadayet was a patsy, an innocent bystander, or part of the operation (he is said to have needed money), but the story that he was the 'lone gunman' seems questionable. I'd really like to see security video of the scene. It has struck me that if I were ever to plan such an operation I would try to mislead the investigation by planting a prank call that could be later used to confuse what really happened in the mind of the public.