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N.Y. Gunman’s Letter Rails At U.S., Britain, France No Evidence Of Palestinian Being Bilked Or Linked To Radical Groups, Police Say

Wed., Feb. 26, 1997

The Palestinian gunman who opened fire on sightseers at the Empire State Building picked the landmark to express his anger against the United States, Great Britain and France and to strike out against his personal enemies, according to a letter made public by police on Tuesday.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said that it would take mental health professionals to sort out the contents of a bitter letter titled “charter of honor” that Ali Hassan Abu Kamal carried to his death. The 69-year-old English professor from Gaza City on Sunday shot seven tourists - killing one of them - before turning his pistol on himself.

“It (the letter) indicates a man who had many enemies in his mind,” the mayor said. “I think it is going to take psychiatrists, psychologists and others to interpret what it all means.”

Police Commissioner Howard Safir said investigators so far had found no evidence linking the gunman to any radical group.

“Our belief is that he acted alone,” Safir said at the City Hall news conference.

Safir also cast doubt on the belief of Abu Kamal’s family that the professor, who arrived in New York Dec. 25, pulled the trigger because he was bilked out of his life savings, hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the United States.

“We have seen no evidence that this money in fact existed at this point,” the commissioner said. “There are no bank accounts we are aware of. There was no currency found in his personal effects, no indication of safe deposit boxes.”

Police released the contents of the letter that attacked the United States and its two allies for being “enemy to the Palestinians” and making them homeless.

“The Zionists are the paw that carried out their savage aggression,” Abu Kamal claimed. “My restless aspiration is to murder as many of them as possible, and I have decided to strike at their own den in New York, and at the very Empire State Building in particular.”

In the letter, the gunman charged that Zionists had “usurped” his father’s land, which was “now worth ten million U.S. dollars at least.”

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