20 years ago today, a Palestinian man went on a shooting spree at the observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York.
Ali Hassan Abu Kamal, a 69-year-old Palestinian teacher, killed one person and wounded six others before killing himself.
Media at the time tried to downplay his motive for the shooting. The New York Times wrote a couple of days afterwards:
Law enforcement authorities and his family believe that his murderous anger was rooted in financial ruin, for they say he apparently saw his life savings of perhaps $500,000 somehow lost here in a matter of weeks. Few mass crimes unfold particularly neatly, however, and it was also evident in the wake of Mr. Abu Kamal's brutal expression of discontent -- a burst of gunfire that left six injured and two dead, including himself -- that not all the chapters in the narrative of his life were clear.Ten years later, his daughter admitted that his family made up the whole story of the financial ruin.
In his rampage, he carried a pair of identical letters, one in English and one in Arabic, tucked into a pouch dangling around his neck, letters that authorities said were a rambling diatribe of venom against the ''Big Three'' of the United States, France and England for centuries-long oppression of Palestinians, against Zionism that he said oppressed Palestinians and against two business partners for swindling him out of money. Investigators would not divulge the partners' names.
And they did it because the Palestinian Authority told them to obstruct a murder investigation in America.
Ali Abu Kamal's relatives say they are tired of lying about why the Palestinian opened fire on the observation deck of Empire State Building, killing a tourist and injuring six other people before committing suicide.
Kamal's widow insisted after the shooting spree that the attack was not politically motivated. She said that her husband had become suicidal after losing $300,000 in a business venture.
But in a stunning admission, Kamal's 48-year-old daughter Linda told the Daily News that her dad wanted to punish the U.S. for supporting Israel - and revealed her mom's 1997 account was a cover story crafted by the Palestinian Authority.
"A Palestinian Authority official advised us to say the attack was not for political reasons because that would harm the peace agreement with Israel," she told The News on Friday. "We didn't know that he was martyred for patriotic motivations, so we repeated what we were told to do."
...She said the family became certain that he carried out the attack for political reasons after reading his diary.
"He wrote that after he raised his children and made sure that his family was all right he decided to avenge in the highest building in America to make sure they get his message," said Linda, who works for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
She said her mom burned the diary, fearing that it would cause the family trouble.