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INS: Airport gunman spoke of terrorism allegation in '92 interview

From Kelli Arena (CNN Washington Bureau)

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet
Hesham Mohamed Hadayet

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Egyptian immigrant who went on a deadly shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport in July told immigration officials in 1992 that Egyptian authorities had accused him of being affiliated with a terrorist group, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet applied for political asylum in December 1992 after entering the United States on a tourist visa, INS officials said.


During his interview, he said he had been arrested in Egypt and falsely accused of being a member of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, also known as the Islamic Group, which has claimed responsibility for acts of violence in Egypt.

Investigators said they are aware of the interview but that it does not change their conclusion that Hadayet did not act in conjunction with any terrorist group in the July Fourth airport attack.

Police said Hadayet, 41, killed two Israelis at the El Al ticket counter and wounded four others, including the security guard who eventually killed him

In his asylum application, Hadayet also wrote that he was a member of Assad Eben Furat Mosque Association, whose purpose was to "understand truly and apply Islamic law in the 20th century under any circumstances." He said he had been tortured and had the scars and medical records to prove it.

At that time, the INS did not try to determine whether Hadayet had any terrorist links, officials said. They point out the State Department had no official list of terrorist organizations in 1992. Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya is on the department's current list.

Immediately after the shooting, INS officials said, they forwarded all relevant information to the Justice Department.

Attorney General John Ashcroft wrote INS officials last week asking whether disciplinary action had been taken against anyone for failing to follow up on Hadayet's statement. INS officials said none had been.

Ashcroft also is asking the INS to review all existing asylum cases to determine whether other possible terrorist links have gone unexamined. The INS said it has to consult with Justice Department officials about how to do so.

According to INS officials, Hadayet was given authorization to work in the United States as his asylum application was pending in accordance with INS regulations at the time. More than two years after he applied, Hadayet was sent a note of intent to deny his asylum request in March 1995, but it was returned to the INS saying he was no longer at that address.

The INS said the application process took so long because the agency was deluged with applications at the time.

The INS said it did not hear from Hadayet again until 1997, when his wife won a visa lottery and he sent in an application for a visa status change. On that application, he wrote that he had applied for political asylum, and the request was pending.

The FBI and CIA did background checks on him, according to INS officials. But the INS did not tell those agencies about the information from his asylum application, officials said.

Hadayet later was granted a visa for permanent residence.

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