Remembering the LAX Terrorist Attack

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by Alisa Roberts

This past Friday, as many prepared for barbecues and fireworks, a small crowd gathered near Terminal 6 at LAX. Standing on the grass around a small plaque, they came together on the anniversary of one of LA’s worst terror attacks. Twelve years earlier, on July 4th, 2002, just 10 months after 9/11, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet walked into LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal. Hadayet, a 41-year-old Egyptian national, opened fire at the El-Al check-in counter, wounding several and killing Yaakov Aminov, a 46-year-old father of five young children, as well as Victoria Hen, just 25 years old.

“We gather together once a year to remember,” said Rabbi Tzvi Block. “But it’s also important to remember that for the family, the loss of Victoria bat Avinoam and Rachel is a memorial that lives on in their hearts every single day.”

Consul General of Israel, David Siegel, spoke about the loss. “The void and pain is enormous, for these families, for this community, and for the US and Israeli community… We buried three of our boys on Monday and we’re here on Friday to memorialize one of our daughters… We need to understand what is at stake.” He then addressed Rachel and Avi Hen, the parents of victim Vicky Hen: “You are never alone…We’re all in this together and we’re all here for each other.”

Klaus Hackel, El-Al Airlines 2002 LAX Station Chief, was at the desk on that day 12 years ago. He spoke movingly of Vicky. “She impressed every person with her beautiful smile, her passion and attention to make one feel special. Vicky, I am proud to be one of the many lives you enriched by your grace and beauty.”

Avi Hen, Vicky’s father, spoke in Hebrew. Then, at 11:21, the exact time of the attack, everyone stood for a moment of silence. Avi Hen summed up the importance of the event: “Every year we come here, not to remember – everybody remembers – but to give respect to my daughter. And to give the public some idea of what happened in 2002.”

Nonie Darwish, human rights activist and Founder of Arabs for Israel, spoke, as well as Elan Carr, US Congressional Candidate. Carr referenced the timing of the attack: “The fourth of July represents freedom, democracy, decency, and tolerance…The enemies that murdered Vicky and Yaakov in cold blood are the enemies not only of the State of Israel and the Jewish People; they are the enemies of the United States of America, and they are the enemies of civilization itself.”