An Independence Day Rampage

Hesham Hadayet apparently came to the airport for just one reason: to kill. On a busy July 4 morning at Los Angeles International Airport, the Egyptian limo driver from Irvine, Calif., stood quietly in blazer and gray slacks at the back of the ticket line at El Al Israel Airlines. Then, without a word of explanation or warning, he drew a .45-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol and sprayed about 10 shots, wounding one passenger and killing ticket agent Victoria Hen, 25, and bystander Jacob Aminov, 46. With tensions high over vague threats of Fourth of July terror, passengers scattered as a quick-acting El Al security guard jumped Hadayet; another fired two shots at him. Hit in the chest, Hadayet slashed both men with a hunting knife before he died. The toll could have been much worse. Searching the dead man, police found another loaded pistol and two full clips of ammo.

What made him do it remains a mystery. Israeli officials labeled the Egyptian's murderous spree terrorism, but FBI officials say his motive is unclear. "Right now, we don't have any indication that this individual acted in an act of terrorism," said FBI agent Rich Garcia on Friday.

But there are troubling signs. Just last week Hadayet put his wife and children on a plane for Egypt; they are being questioned by security officers there. FBI officials say Hadayet has been in the United States since 1992, but his Social Security card was issued in the 1980s. Odder still, Hadayet held two California driver's licenses, issued under different names. "That can be an indication" of terrorist activities, says an FBI source. But officials add that Hadayet, who lost his limo permit last year, may have had personal reasons for his deadly assault. A curious fact: Hadayet staged his Independence Day rampage on his 41st birthday.