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Daniel Lewin

(1970 - 2001)

Daniel Lewin was an American-Israeli entreprenuer, former Israeli commando, and the unofficial first casualty of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Lewin (born May 14, 1970; died September 11, 2001) was born in Denver, Colorado but moved as a teenager with his family to Jerusalem, Israel. After living in Israel for a short time, Lewin enlisted in one of Israel's most elite special forces commando units - the Sayeret Matkal - and served honorably in the unit for four years. The dedication to help others that he gained through his military service would eventually show itself again at the very begining of the worst tragedy in American history.

After completing his army service, Lewin attended the Technion University in Haifa and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1995 with both a BA and a BS. Following his graduation, Lewin moved back to the states where he enrolled in MIT to obtain a Ph.D.

It was at MIT that Lewin, together with his advisor Professor Thomas Leighton, invented new algorithms for optimizing internet traffic; algorithms which eventually became the basis for the founding of the technology compnay Akamai in 1998. He initially served as Akamai's chief technology officer and succeeded brilliantly during the years of the internet boom.

On September 11, 2001, Lewin boarded American Airlines flight 11 at Boston's Logan Airport, headed to Los Angeles for a business meeting.

He never made it.

Sometime shortly after takeoff, five Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked the airplane in what we know was one of four hijackings to happen on the morning of September 11. A 2002 FAA memo on the incident suggests that Lewin, who was seated towards the front of the plane in business class and in very close vacinity to mastermind Mohamed Atta, attempted to struggle with the hijackers in an attempt to foil their plot. He was summarily stabbed and killed, becoming the unofficial first victim of the broader attack that killed nearly 3,000 people.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Lewin was most likely stabbed by terrorist Satam al-Suqami who was sitting directly behind Lewin.

Lewin is survived by his wife, Anne, and two sons, Eitan and Itamar, who were aged five and eight at the time of the attacks in 2001. He was posthumously named one of the most influential figures of the Internet age and the award given to the best student-authored paper at the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC) was named after him as the "Danny Lewin Best Student Paper Award."

Sources: Wikipedia, WorldNetDaily, IDF Spokesperson; CNN (September 9, 2013)