Associated Retired Aviation Professionals


Tuesday, July 9, 2002



5 July:  Hashem Mohamed Hadayat, 41, who gunned down Yakov Aminov, 46, and
Vicky Hen, 25 - both from Los Angeles - on the 4th of July at the El Al
terminal of Los Angeles, and wounded 7 others, is revealed by DEBKAfile's
intelligence and counter-terror sources as a Muslim extremist. During his ten
years in the United States, he was a secret operative of the Egyptian Jihad
who maintained undercover links to the same Jihad cell in Brooklyn, New York,
as the "blind sheikh" Abdul Rahim Rahman and Ramzi Yousef. Both are doing
time for perpetrating the first attack on the New York World Trade Center in

Hadayat is also believed to have abetted a previous, contrived airline
disaster: On October 31, 1999, an Egyptair Boeing 767 Flight 990, which also
took off from Los Angeles airport for Kennedy, New York. After Kennedy, the
plane bound for Cairo plunged into the Atlantic off the Nantucket Island,
Mass. coast, killing all 217 passengers and crew. In a special probe, the US
National Transportation Safety Board found that the copilot Gameel el-Batouty
was at the controls when the plane went into its dive. His voice was recorded
shouting, "I put my faith in Allah!"

The report held back from referring more directly to the Egyptian copilot's
responsibility for the crash.
Our sources affirm that Hadayat, who lived in Irvine, California, 70 km south
of Los Angeles, knew Batouty well. There are also indications that, in the
years 1998 and 1999, Hadayat was in touch with a group of high Egyptian air
force officers and helicopter pilots posted at the time at Edwards Base north
of Los Angeles. They were there to learn how to install command and control
centers in Egypt's air defense systems, operate anti-air missile batteries
and fly Apache gunships. Most of those officers were on the doomed Egyptian
airliner after completing their courses.

Although the long-delayed US Transportation Board report never referred to
the presence of this high-ranking Egyptian air force delegation on the
flight, DEBKAfile 's Washington sources reported at the time that most of the
investigators were satisfied that Batouty could not have seized control of
the Boeing 767 without the aid - certainly the compliance - of those

Two years ago, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak exerted all his influence on
President Clinton to keep the federal board's findings out of its published
report and, above all, the fact that a group of Egyptian air force officers
was on the plane. He warned that citing the Egyptian copilot as deliberately
causing the crash would have a negative effect on Egyptian-US relations.

The report therefore fell short of clear conclusions.

Hadayat's murderous attack on El Al flight 106 passengers points back to the
Egyptair 990 disaster of 1999, reviving the many questions left open by that
earlier, half stifled inquiry, which carefully stepped round any suggestion
of terrorism. It also raises the question of how many sleeper cells the
Egyptian Jihad, al Qaeda's primary operational arm, maintains in American

Hadayat struck the El Al ticket line on his 42nd birthday. The initial FBI
inquiry found through records of his fingerprints at the Department of Motor
Vehicles, which issued him with a limousine license, that he was married with
at least one child, and had lived in Irvine for the last two years, working
on a green card.
Since the attack, the possibility that he arrived in America as a sleeper
terrorist must be seriously addressed. US investigators realize he was not a
lone operative and are seeking his accomplices in such matters as setting up
the hit, providing the guns he carried and intelligence on the security
situation at the Tom Bradley terminal.

DEBKAfile's Middle East intelligence sources report that early Friday,
Egyptian intelligence officers picked up Hadayat's relatives and associates
in Cairo, to try and trace the identities of his fellows in the American
Jihad cell.

7 July: Hesham Mohamed Hadayat was no stranger toEl Al's Los Angeles airport

According to DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources, the man who murdered two
Israelis on the El Al ticket line at Los Angeles airport on July 4th worked
for the American Mercury ground service company from 1993 (one year after he
arrived in the US) until 1998, when he left to set up his own limousine
service for air passengers.

Exactly what he did at Mercury is vague, but during his five years in their
employ, this former bank clerk from Cairo was free to move around Los Angeles
international airport. Our sources reveal that during that time, he aroused
the suspicions of El Al security personnel who warned airport security. When
no action was taken, they put him under surveillance. El Al asked Mercury to
rearrange Hadayat's shifts for periods when none of its planes were
scheduled, which Mercury agreed to do

After the 4th of July attack, in order not to clash directly with the US
authorities which refused to identify it as a terrorist assault, El Al and
Israeli security spokesmen said that even if the Egyptian gunman was not a
proven member of a terrorist group, his crime ranked as an act of terror.

However, Sunday, July 7 the influential Arabic London-based Al Hayat followed
the original DEBKAfile disclosure of July 5 - that Hadayat was a member of
the Egyptian Islamic Jihad  - and took it a step further.  According to the
Arabic paper, the Egyptian gunman met Dr. Ayman Zuwahri, the Jihad Islami
chief who is Osama bin Laden's deputy, twice in California - once in 1995 and
again in 1998.

According to DEBKAfile's sources, it was at that second encounter that
Hadayat was told to leave his job with Mercury and given capital to set up
his small limousine firm, so as to take advantage of his access to airport
facilities and airline personnel contacts, while at the same time shaking off
any watchers.

The Al Hayat report places Dr. Zuwahri in California unobserved less than
three years before the 9/11 hijacking attacks in America and a year and a
half before the Egyptair disaster (see first DEBKAfile story).

The Hadayat family lives in Cairo. His father, a retired Egyptian army
general, and his uncle, a former minister of science, admit that Hesham was a
fervent Muslim who did what he could to encourage everyone to read the Koran.
They say he was happy in Irvine, California. His neighbors in that Los
Angeles suburb tell a different story, that he hated Israelis and Jews and
asked one of them to take down the American and US Marine flags put up after

From all the foregoing, our counter-terror experts cite Hesham Hadayat as a
classical a Qaeda plant. He was positioned at Los Angeles airport in the
early 1990s to bide his time for the right moment to carry out a terrorist
attack against an El Al flight. When Hayat's handlers saw he was under
observation, they made him lower profile. His assignment was revised to fit
his role as a limousine driver familiar to the Tom Bradley terminal staff and
free to move around - namely to shoot down a line of passengers waiting to
board an El Al flight.

Although from 1994 or 1995 at the latest, Hadayat was brought to the notice
of American security, was under the eye of El Al security, and the Egyptian
authorities must have known about him, he was never investigated - even after
9/11. The FBI has admitted he figured on no watch list for terrorists. This
left him perfectly free to carry out his mission on behalf of the extremist
Islamic organization  - all of which raises some hard questions about the way
in which the war against terror is carried out in the United States. 

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