Israeli 9/11 victim's brother: No closure in bin Laden hit

Daniel Mark Lewin was former Sayeret Matkal officer and made hi-tech fortune before being stabbed to death by hijackers on US flight.

May 2, 2011 22:35
3 minute read.
World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek)


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Word of the killing of Osama Bin-Laden in a US Navy SEALs raid in Pakistan Monday morning brought little comfort to Jerusalemite Jonathan Lewin, whose brother, Daniel Mark Lewin, was among the first victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks orchestrated by the al-Qaida leader.

“I don’t think it gives any sort of closure. [September 11] wasn’t a personal thing; it was an ideological fight of [Bin- Laden’s] radical Islamic ideology against the Western world. His attack wasn’t a personal attack and our vengeance or fight against Islamic terrorism isn’t a personal vendetta or war that can be won through specific actions against specific people.”

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Lewin added that he and his family were “happy along with everyone else – it’s a positive thing and a positive achievement. Obviously, it’s a good thing and a victory against a symbol of radical Islam, but in reality I don’t think that bin Laden was the problem; rather, he was a puppet of radical Islam and the fight against that is ongoing.”

Lewin went on to describe his belief that the battle against terrorists like bin Laden has never been one of targeted strikes on individuals. Instead, it’s a cultural war against the supporters of radical Islamic ideology, and he doesn’t think bin Laden's death will be a major turning point.

Daniel Mark Lewin was aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which the terrorists rammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:56 on that September morning almost a decade ago. According to the Federal Aviation Authority, Lewin was sitting in business class and fought against the hijackers before he was overpowered and stabbed to death. He left behind his wife, Anne Lewin, who lives in Boston with their two sons, Eitan, 17, and Itamar, 14.

Lewin’s life reads like an all-time aliya success story. He immigrated to Israel with his parents and two brothers from Denver, Colorado, when he was 14, and later joined the army, where he became a captain in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit. After leaving the army, he pursued two degrees simultaneously at the Technion in Haifa, while also working as a researcher at the city’s IBM research laboratory.

After leaving the Technion – where he was named the school’s outstanding student in computer engineering in 1995 – Lewin enrolled at MIT in Boston, where he and Prof. F. Thomson Leighton developed algorithms for optimizing Internet traffic. These systems later formed the foundation of “Akamai,” the company they founded in 1998. The start-up became wildly successful during the Internet boom, and as the company's co-founder and chief technology officer, Lewin became a very wealthy man. He is considered one of the most influential technological minds of the Internet generation.

Lewin remains a hero to his younger brother Jonathan, who on Monday described him as “an amazing human being. He had super amounts of energy, focus; everything in his life he did with amazing intensity.”

Jonathan said that when he and his brother Mike heard about the 9/11 attacks, “we were sure that Danny did something. His personality was like that – he had an automatic instinct to get up and do something; he wouldn’t have thought of himself for a minute. He was a very courageous man, anyone, anywhere who knew him, knew him in this way."

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