LOS ANGELES (Jan. 5)
The city of Los Angeles has been hit with legal claims of more than $38 million stemming from last year’s July 4 shooting rampage at the L.A. International Airport.
Attorney Richard Fine filed the claims primarily on behalf of the family of Ya’acov Aminov, one of the two victims killed by Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who opened fire on passengers waiting in line at the El Al check-in counter.
Fine charged that the city failed to provide any police presence at the terminal where El Al is located and that it took officers 15 minutes to respond to the shooting.
“By taking federal grants for anti-terrorist activities, the city accepted responsibility for security,” he said.
Claims against the city must be presented within six months of the event. Fine beat the deadline by one day, filing papers last Friday.
Should the city reject the claims within the 45-day deadline, Fine said he would file a lawsuit in federal court. The case could be expanded to target Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida — and tap assets frozen by the United States government.
Shortly after the attack, the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Hayat published an article suggesting that Hadayet had met with bin Laden’s top aide in 1995 and 1998.
Of the total amount in the claims, $10 million is earmarked for Aminov’s widow, Anat, and $17 million for their five children, ranging in age from two to 10 years.
A further $3 million claim is on behalf of the victim’s three children in Israel from Aminov’s first marriage.
Compensation for emotional trauma is being sought by four L.A.-area residents: Arie Golan, who wrestled the gunman to the ground, Michael Shabtai and Moti Harari, who stood next to Aminov, and Harari’s 6-year old daughter Shiran, who was thrown over the check-in counter by her father , where she landed on top of the second victim, El Al employee Victoria Hen.
Hadayet was killed by an El Al security guard within seconds of opening fire.
Airport officials declined comment, but the L.A. Daily News reported that security has been beefed up since July 4 with the addition of 60 uniformed officers to complement the 240 existing airport police.
The FBI still has not issued a final report on the case, to the frustration of the victims’ families and Israeli officials, who view the shooting as a clear act of terrorism.
An FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles said last Friday that the results of the local investigation had been sent to headquarters to evaluate whether the shooting was a terrorist act or the work of an unstable individual.