9/11 Report: Qaida Planned Eilat Strike, Israeli Tackled Hijackers

Nathan Guttman
Haaretz Correspondent
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Nathan Guttman
Haaretz Correspondent

WASHINGTON - The 585-page report on the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, published Thursday, reveals new information on Al-Qaida efforts to attack Israel and gives details of an attempt by an Israeli to stop the hijackers from entering the cockpit of one of the two planes flown into the World Trade Center.

According to the report by the September 11 commission, a high-ranking Al-Qaida operations official, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, currently in U.S. custody, admitted during questioning that the terrorist network was planning other attacks along with those of September 11.

During the summer of 2001, according to the report, Sheikh Mohammed proposed to Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden that they try to recruit a Saudi air force pilot, who would take a Saudi combat plane and use it in an air attack on the southern resort city of Eilat.

The report does not specify what type of attack Sheikh Mohammed intended or what came as a result of his proposal.

The report also elaborates on the story of the Israeli flying on American Airlines flight 11 who attempted to stop the hijackers from breaking into the cockpit before the plane plunged into the World Trade Center.

Daniel Lewin was seated in first class when he saw two of the hijackers - group leader Mohammed Ata and Abdul Aziz al-Omri - getting up in order to enter the cockpit and take control of the plane, according to the report.

The Israeli tried to stop the two, but a third hijacker sitting behind him, identified as Satam al-Sukami, stabbed Lewin. It is not known whether he was killed or injured, but according to a telephone conversation from a stewardess aboard the plane, Lewin was badly wounded.

Lewin, 31, was a founder of the hi-tech company Akamai, based in Boston. He was born in the United States but immigrated to Israel at the age of 14 with his parents.

Lewin served in the Israel Defense Forces' elite Sayeret Matkal unit. The report said that Lewin had served as an IDF officer for four years. He is survived by his wife and two sons.



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