Daniel Lewin

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Daniel Lewin
Born(1970-05-14)May 14, 1970
DiedSeptember 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 31)
On board American Airlines Flight 11, approximately in the air over Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Cause of deathStabbing
EducationTechnion – Israel Institute of Technology (BA, BS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
SpouseAnne Lewin
Military career
Allegiance Israel
Service/branch Sayeret Matkal

Daniel Mark Lewin (Hebrew: דניאל "דני" מארק לוין; May 14, 1970 – September 11, 2001), sometimes spelled Levin, was an American–Israeli mathematician and entrepreneur who co-founded internet company Akamai Technologies. A passenger on board American Airlines Flight 11, it is believed that Lewin was stabbed to death by Satam al-Suqami, one of the hijackers of that flight, and was the first victim of the September 11th attacks.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Lewin was born May 14, 1970, in Denver, Colorado, and moved to Israel with his parents at age 14 and was raised in Israel.[4]


Lewin served for four years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as an officer in Sayeret Matkal, one of the IDF's special forces units.[4] Lewin earned the rank of captain.[2]

He attended the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa while simultaneously working at IBM's research laboratory in the city. While at IBM, he was responsible for developing the Genesys system, a processor verification tool that is used widely within IBM and in other companies such as Advanced Micro Devices and SGS-Thomson.[5]

Upon receiving a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, in 1995, he traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to begin graduate studies toward a Ph.D at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1996. While there, he and his advisor, Professor F. Thomson Leighton, came up with consistent hashing, an innovative algorithm for optimizing Internet traffic.[6] These algorithms became the basis for Akamai Technologies, which the two founded in 1998.[5] Lewin served as the company's chief technology officer and a board member, and achieved great wealth during the height of the Internet boom.[7]

Lewin's name is located on Panel N-75 of the National September 11 Memorial’s North Pool, along with those of other passengers of Flight 11.

Death and legacy[edit]

Lewin was reportedly stabbed aboard American Airlines Flight 11 as it was hijacked during the September 11 attacks. A 2001 FAA memo suggests he may have been stabbed by Satam al-Suqami after attempting to foil the hijacking. According to the memo, Lewin was seated in business class in seat 9B, close to hijackers Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz al-Omari and al-Suqami. It was first reported that he had been shot by al-Suqami, although the final draft of the memo dropped all references to gunfire.[8] According to the 9/11 Commission, Lewin was stabbed by one of the hijackers, probably Satam al-Suqami, who was seated directly behind him.[9] Flight attendants on the plane who contacted airline officials from the plane reported that Lewin's throat was slashed, probably by the terrorist sitting behind him.[10] The 9/11 Commission speculated that Lewin, who had served four years in the Israeli military, may have attempted to confront Atta or Omari, who had been seated in front of him, not knowing that al-Suqami was sitting just behind him.[9] Lewin was identified as the first victim of the September 11 attacks.[2][3][11]

Lewin, who was 31, was survived by his wife Anne and his two sons, Eitan and Itamar, who were aged five and eight at the time of the September 2001 attacks.[4][5][11][12]

In July 2004, it was reported that Lewin's recovered remains had been identified.[13]

After his death, the intersection of Main and Vassar Streets in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was renamed Danny Lewin Square in his honor.[12] The award given to the best student-written paper at the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC) was also named the Danny Lewin Best Student Paper Award, in his honor.[6] In 2011, on the tenth anniversary of his death, Lewin's contributions to the Internet were memorialized by friends and colleagues.[14][15]

At the National 9/11 Memorial, Lewin is memorialized at the North Pool, on Panel N-75.[16]

Lewin is the subject of the 2013 biography No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet by Molly Knight Raskin.


  • 1995 – Technion named him the year's Outstanding Student in Computer Engineering.
  • 1998 – Morris Joseph Levin Award for Best Masterworks Thesis Presentation at MIT.


  1. ^ Leopold, Todd (September 11, 2013). "The legacy of Danny Lewin, the first man to die on 9/11". CNN.
  2. ^ a b c Sisk, Richard; el-Faizy, Monique (July 24, 2004). "Ex-Israeli commando tried to halt unfolding hijacking". Daily News. New York City. Archived from the original on October 6, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Liel Leibovitz (11 September 2013). "Remembering Tech Titan Danny Lewin, the Fighting Genius on Flight 11". Tablet.
  4. ^ a b c Weiss, Efrat (12 September 2001). "Daniel was a very special man". Yedioth Ahronoth (in Hebrew). Ynet!. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Akamai Remembers Danny Lewin". Akamai Technologies. 2006. Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Leighton, Tom (2002). "Remarks made by Tom Leighton to commemorate the naming of the STOC Best Student Paper Award in honor of the late Daniel Lewin". University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  7. ^ דני לוין, מייסד אקאמאי ובוגר הטכניון, ברשימת העשירים הצעירים (in Hebrew). Globes. 3 April 2001. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  8. ^ "UPI hears..." United Press International. March 6, 2002. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "1. WE HAVE SOME PLANES". 9-11 Commission Report. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. July 22, 2004. Archived from the original on September 1, 2004. Retrieved September 19, 2021 – via National Archives and Records Administration.
  10. ^ Nickisch, Curt (8 September 2011). "Cambridge Co. Keeps Founder's Spirit Alive After 9/11". WBUR. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Jager, Ron (September 8, 2011). "Danny Lewin: The First Victim Of 9/11". 5TJT. Archived from the original on October 17, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Volume 122, Issue 47". The Tech. MIT. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  13. ^ Dan, Uri (July 11, 2004). "REMAINS OF FIRST 9/11 VICTIM ARE ID'D". New York Post. Archived from the original on September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  14. ^ Sitaraman, Ramesh (September 11, 2011). "9/11: A Personal Remembrance". University of Massachusetts Amherst.
  15. ^ Bray, Hiawatha Bray (September 4, 2011). "A lost spirit still inspires". The Boston Globe.
  16. ^ "South Pool: Panel N-75 - Daniel M. Lewin". National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Archived from the original on July 27, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2011.

External links[edit]