Jewish World Review July 10, 2002 / 1 Menachem-Av, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
Hate crime, terror and murder
THE FBI is in deep trouble. Even as it is desperate to
assure Americans that its crack investigators can
prevent terrorist attacks, it can't figure out if the July
4 Los Angeles airport shootings were terrorist acts.
"We're not ruling out hate crimes. We're not ruling
out terrorism completely," Special Agent Rich Garcia
told reporters on July 5.
I understand that the U.S. government hasn't been
able to find Osama bin Laden -- or what's left of him.
But can't it find a dictionary?
When Hesham Mohamed Hadayet shot and killed
Yaakov Aminov, 46, and Victoria Hen, 25, at the El
Al airlines ticket counter, he committed a "hate
crime." It also was an act of terrorism.
The real question -- and the one the feds ought to
concentrate on -- is: Did Hadayet have any help?
(Maybe he acted alone. Maybe not. Al Hayat, a
London Arabic-language newspaper, has reported
that Hadayet met with Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin
Laden's right-hand man, in 1995 and 1998.)
To be fair, I should point out that the FBI isn't the
only government entity that prefers not to speak ill of
the Glock-toting dead. White House spokesman Ari
Fleischer announced, "There is no evidence, no
indication at this time, that this is terrorists." Sure,
there's no evidence -- other than the fact that an
Egyptian immigrant showed up armed with two guns
and a knife at the ticket counter of the Israeli national
airlines at an airport previously targeted for a terrorist
attack during a major U.S. holiday, and proceeded to
Hadayet didn't need to write a manifesto to make his
hatred of Israel clear.
Agent Garcia has said Hadayet may have had "an
abnormal reaction to being despondent."
Here's what's wrong with the FBI talking about a
murderer's personal problems. First, since Hadayet
is dead, the FBI doesn't have to mince words lest
they sabotage Hadayet's right to a fair trial.
Second, defense attorneys are supposed to present
likely motives and mitigating factors that evoke
sympathy for the criminal. The FBI shouldn't be
taking on the defense attorney's role. Law
enforcement is supposed to be more interested in
what happened -- the murder of innocent people --
than the vile excuses for it.
Garcia would have done better to tell the press that
the FBI wasn't sure if the attacks were sponsored by
a terrorist organization, but that the bureau does
know that two people were M-U-R-D-E-R-E-D.
And it doesn't matter to the corpses if Hadayet was
"despondent" or if business or personal problems
contributed to Hadayet's desire to kill people while
striking a blow against Israel.
Of course, the FBI doesn't want to seem anti-Arab or
anti-Muslim. But when law enforcement has to
appear, well, blind, why bother trying to hide the
I also understand that the U.S. government doesn't
want Americans to panic, stop flying and derail any
economic recovery. So, let the White House and
Gov. Gray Davis try to down-play the attack. But not
the FBI. Not an FBI that is trying to appear more
credible and less bureaucratic.
The FBI should stick to fighting crime, and leave
public relations to the Chamber of Commerce and
political correctness to the ACLU.
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