Wife of slain suspect in airport shootout says he is innocent

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

CAIRO, Egypt -- The wife of an Egyptian who gunned down two people at the Los Angeles airport said Monday that her husband is innocent and that he gave no hint of violence in a phone call hours before the shooting.

"My husband didn't do such a thing. This is nonsense," 41-year-old Hala Mohammed Sadeq El-Awadly told The Associated Press on Monday in Cairo.

"Hesham called on July 4, it was his birthday. His voice was very beautiful," she said. "He asked about the boys, asked me to take them out a lot and to review their lessons with them in order to be ready for next year."

According to the FBI, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet went to the airport ticket counter of El Al, Israel's national airline, carrying two handguns and a hunting knife and opened fire. He killed two people and wounded three before he was killed by an El Al security guard.

El-Awadly said she did not believe her husband was responsible for the July 4 shooting. She offered no explanation for how he could be innocent when so many people saw him open fire, but said he was being blamed because he was Arab and Muslim.

'Victim of injustice'

"He is a victim of injustice," she said three times. "In America, they hate Islam and Arabs after Sept. 11."

El-Awadly said she can't wear black, mourn or cry because she had not yet told her sons -- Omar 12, and Adam, 7 -- any of what had happened. She said she was thankful that their Arabic was so poor they could not understand media reports or the conversations of the adults around them -- though the older boy has been asking why his father's name keeps coming up.

Hadayet's motive remains unknown. The FBI said it could not rule out terrorism but also was investigating the possibility it was a hate crime. Authorities also were investigating whether Hadayet was despondent over his personal or business affairs.

His wife said he was not a violent man and had never expressed anger at Israel or at the recent Israeli-Palestinian violence that has sparked anti-Israeli protests across the Arab world.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: