Friday, September 13, 2013

The Legacy of 9-11 Hero Danny Lewin

The Legacy of 9-11 Hero Danny Lewin
By Steven Plaut
    The Israeli-American hero of September 11, 2001 has remained largely unknown and his role largely unacknowledged.   Danny Lewin was an American-Israeli, an internet entrepreneur, and the very first person to be murdered by the Al-Qaeda barbarians on September 11, 2001.  He was aboard the American Airlines Flight 11 plane out of Boston headed for Los Angeles when it was hijacked by the terrorists.  A veteran of the special forces in the Israeli army, Lewin quickly understood what was going down.  He spoke fluent Arabic.  He single-handedly attempted to attack and subdue the terrorists.  He was stabbed to death on the plane by terrorist Satam al-Suqami, a Saudi law student.  He was 31 years old when he was murdered.     
     A new biography of the hero of 9-11 just hit the book stores and is entitled, "No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet."  It is written by Molly Knight Raskin. 
    Lewin grew up in Denver and  immigrated to Israel with his family in 1984.  He served in the ultra-elite special forces combat unit "Sayeret Matkal," perhaps best known for the operation in Entebbe to release the kidnapped Jews.  He attended the Technion in Haifa, where in 1995 he was named the year's Outstanding Student in Computer Engineering.  He then worked for IBM in developing high-tech products, later doing graduate work at MIT.
    Lewin had been working with MIT Professor F. Thomson Leighton, and the two developed  mathematical algorithms for optimizing internet traffic.   These became the basis for Akamai Technologies, which the two founded in 1998.  Lewin served as the company's chief technology officer and a board member.  The company went public in 1999 and its stock market valuation rose rapidly to 345 billion dollars.  Lewin was posthumously named one of the most influential high-tech figures in the world. 
    After his death, the intersection of Main and Vassar Streets in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was renamed Danny Lewin Square in his honor.
    His life captures everything positive about the American-Israeli collaboration in education, high-technology, and military strategy.  He also epitomizes the world struggle against barbarism. 

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