Daniel Lewin, an Israeli citizen and former IDF officer, was the first victim of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, killed aboard an airplane as tried to fight the hijackers.

Daniel served for four years in the Israel Defense Forces as an officer in Sayeret Matkal, the elite IDF combat unit. He left the army after achieving the rank of captain, graduated from the Technion in Haifa, and then received a scholarship to begin graduate studies toward a Doctor of Philosophy at MIT. While at MIT, he helped come up with the innovative algorithms to enable web site to handle heavy traffic. Web sites were crashing when they had heavy traffic and he discovered how to distribute the traffic among many servers. He co-founded Akamai Techonologies which had clients such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and Apple.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Daniel was sitting in business class seat 9b on American Airlines flight 11 on his way to a business meeting in Los Angeles. The hijackers never could have imagined that they would be faced with an elite Israeli soldier as they tried to take over the plane. FAA, FBI, and 9/11 Commission reports indicate that Daniel sprung into action to try to stop Mohamed Atta from getting into the cockpit. Daniel would not have noticed Satam al-Suqami who appears to have been sitting behind him. The reports suggest that al Suqami killed Daniel by stabbing him in the throat.

Daniel Lewin has been officially identified as the first victim of the 9/11 attacks. He is survived by his wife, Anne, and his two sons Eitan and Itamar who were five and eight years old when their father was killed. On this day when we remember all the victims of the attacks, let us all remember Daniel Levin, an elite Israeli soldier who was killed while heroically trying to stop the attacks from coming into fruition.

Author: Dov Lipman, Reporter for United with Israel
Originally published on September 11, 2012.

Dov Lipman is currently a member of the Israeli Knesset.

The following video captures Daniel’s story:

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