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September 11, 2013 11:55 am

Remembering Daniel Lewin, IDF Veteran, First 9/11 Victim

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Daniel Lewin. Photo: Wikipedia.

By most accounts, Daniel Lewin was the first victim of the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, writes

Lewin, an entrepreneur and American-born Jew who had served in the Israeli military, was sitting in seat 9B on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.

According to flight attendants’ calls relayed to authorities on the ground, the first passenger to be killed  in the hijacked plane was seated in 9B. A 2002 FAA memo suggests he may have been killed after he attempted to foil the hijacking. He was stabbed to death.

In 1984, at the age of 14, Lewin’s family decided to move to Israel, and Lewin grew up near Jerusalem.

Israel was key to shaping Lewin’s temperament, says Molly Knight Raskin, whose new book, “No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet,” explores Lewin’s life.

“Moving to Israel was like lighting a fire under (his) drive,” she says. “He wanted to squeeze every last drop out of every minute out of every hour out of every day.”

In the late 90s Lewin became wealthy and influential in technology circles after finding a solution to the problem of slow internet access, what was then called the “World Wide Wait” and, with his company Akamai Technologies — co-founded with Tom Leighton — helped make the Web faster and more efficient.

Today, Lewin is remembered as one of the most influential minds of the internet age. Colleagues and friends say that the  intensity and blunt manner Israelis are known for was reflected in the way Lewin interacted with people. Some Akamai colleagues found him abrasive, and Lewin — who had a fondness for words — joked about being “obstreperous.” But he was also terrifically loyal, supportive of staff and worked as hard as anybody, CNN writes.

Leighton, who has built Akamai into a multi-billion dollar company active in cybersecurity, told CNN the world is a far poorer place than it was before that grim day 12 years ago.

“Those who knew him feel like the world was robbed,” says Raskin. “He was always searching for something greater.”

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  • Dolly

    12 years ago and still is so sad…he had a beautiful family see his wife anne here

  • Ethan Coane

    One image of 9/11 that I’ll never forget is that of crowds in Palestine and other Arab countries cheering, laughing and celebrating the event as they burned American and Israeli flags.
    I’d never heard this story of Danny Lewin’s murder on American Airlines flight 11 minutes before it was crashed into the WTC tower. It doesn’t surprise me that an Israeli would take individual action against terrorists. It was more surprising that a group of passengers on United flight 43 banded together in an attempt to take back control of their aircraft over the skies of southwestern PA and thus prevented it from being crashed into the White House, the Capitol building, or other significant target in DC. Let us remember and celebrate all the heroes/martyrs of that day as ardently as the Arabs celebrated the cowardly murderers who flew those planes.

  • Marylin Pitz

    Hard to accept, even now.

  • may god bless the memory of Lewin and all those who never came back from 9/11. R.I.P.