2002 Los Angeles International Airport shooting

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2002 Los Angeles International Airport shooting
LocationLos Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DateJuly 4, 2002
TargetPassengers and personnel of Israeli airliner El Al at Los Angeles International Airport
Attack type
Deaths3 (including the perpetrator)
Non-fatal injuries
PerpetratorSoquaz Mohamed Hadayet
MotiveTo influence U.S. government policy in favor of the Palestinians

On Independence Day of the United States, July 4, 2002, a lone terrorist opened fire at the airline ticket counter of El Al, Israel's national airline, at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. Two people were killed and four others were injured before the gunman was fatally shot by an El Al security guard after also being wounded by him.

The attack[edit]

Check-in counters at the Tom Bradley Terminal within LAX, where the incident happened

On July 4, 2002 at around 11:30 a.m., a lone gunman approached the El Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles International Airport, pulled out two Glock pistols and started shooting at the 90 passengers standing in the line. Initially, the assailant killed 25-year-old Customer Service Agent Victoria Hen, who was standing behind the counter, with a gunshot to the chest. Later, the assailant opened fire at the passengers as they huddled nearby and killed 46-year-old bystander Yaakov Aminov. In addition, he injured four other bystanders.

The terrorist used a .45-caliber handgun in the shooting. In addition, he was armed with a 9 mm handgun, a 6-inch knife, and was also carrying extra magazines and ammunition for both guns.[1]

After the gunman fired 10 bullets at the crowd, one of El Al's security guards, who was unarmed, managed to knock him down. Meanwhile, El Al's security officer, Chaim Sapir, ran to the scene but was stabbed by the assailant with a knife. Despite this, Sapir managed to draw his pistol and shoot the gunman in the chest, killing him.[2][3]

The perpetrator[edit]

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, a 41-year-old Egyptian national, was identified as the assailant. He emigrated to the United States in 1992, arriving on a tourist visa but claimed political asylum; however, his status was tenuous until 1997 when his wife won the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery enabling both to become legal residents.[4] In Egypt he had been arrested for being a member of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, an Islamist group. He denied the accusation to U.S. immigration authorities. He said that he was a member of Assad Eben Furat Mosque Association, a group that aimed to "understand truly and apply Islamic law in the 20th century under any circumstances."[5] Despite these Islamist commitments, he was given permission to live in the U.S. while his asylum application was pending. His asylum request was denied in 1995 but a letter notifying him was returned by the Post Office as undeliverable and no further efforts appear to have been made to locate and deport him.[5]

Hadayet had a green card which allowed him to work as a limousine driver. He was married, and had at least one child. At the time of the shooting, Hadayet was living in Irvine, California.[1]

Like Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov, the perpetrator of the 2017 New York City attack, gained legal residency in the United States under the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery.[6][7]


In September 2002, federal investigators concluded that Hadayet hoped to influence U.S. government policy in favor of the Palestinians, and that the incident was a terrorist act.[8][9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Feldman, Charles (July 5, 2002). "Los Angeles airport shooting kills 3". CNN. Los Angeles, California. Archived from the original on 2004-12-04.
  2. ^ התקפת יריות על דלפק אל-על בלוס אנג'לס [An attack on the Los Angeles ticket counter]. Yedioth Internet (in Hebrew). Ynet and agencies. July 6, 2002.
  3. ^ Blankstein, Andrew (July 7, 2002). "LAX Assailant Died of Abdominal Gunshot Wound". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Ramirez, Eddy (2 October 2012). "Panel Probes LAX Gunman Terrorism: House lawmakers say closer scrutiny by INS might have prevented killings by Egyptian immigrant". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  5. ^ a b Arena, Kelly (25 September 2002). "INS: Airport gunman spoke of terrorism allegation in '92 interview". CNN. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Diversity visa program: What you need to know". Fox News. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  7. ^ Sacchetti, Maria (1 November 2017). "Here's what you need to know about the Diversity Visa Lottery Program". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Federal investigators: L.A. airport shooting a terrorist act". CNN. September 5, 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-11-07.
  9. ^ "FBI, Justice: El Al attack was terrorism". cnn.com. April 12, 2003. Archived from the original on February 3, 2007.
  10. ^ "FBI, Justice: El Al attack was terrorism". CNN. April 12, 2003. Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2008.

Coordinates: 33°56′31″N 118°24′50″W / 33.942°N 118.414°W / 33.942; -118.414