Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Producer’s Widow Sues Hotel Chain Over Terror Attack
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
The widow of a Hollywood producer filed suit in an Illinois court yesterday accusing the Hyatt chain of negligence in failing to prevent a 2005 suicide bombing at its Amman, Jordan hotel that killed her husband and daughter.
In a wrongful death and personal injury complaint filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County against Global Hyatt Corporation and Hyatt International Corporation, Los Angeles resident Sooha Akkad alleged that inadequate security precautions led to the death of her husband, Moustapha Akkad and her daughter, Rimma Akkad, in a bombing carried out by Iraqi militants affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq and Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
On Nov. 9, 2005 three Iraqi militants entered the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn hotels in Amman and detonated explosives strapped to their bodies, killing 62 people and injuring hundreds of others. Akkad and her family were guests of the Grand Hyatt and were in the lobby when Rawad Jassem Mohammed Abed detonated a bomb killing Rimma Akkad, and seriously injuring Sooha and Moustapha Akkad.
Moustapha Akkad, 75, died from his injuries two days later. He was the executive producer of the 1978 horror film “Halloween” and several of its sequels, and the producer and director of 1981’s “Lion of the Desert” as well as the 1976 film “Mohammed, Messenger of God,” also known as “The Message.”
Zarqawi—who was killed on June 7, 2006 in a U.S. air strike north of Baqubah, Iraq—later released an Internet statement claiming responsibility for the bombings.
The complaint alleges that the defendants failed to reasonably protect their guests from criminal attack and violence in light of the foreseeability of a terrorist attack that day. Due to a discrepancy in calendar styles by which month and day are reversed, the date “9/11” represents November 9 in the Jordanian calendar.
Akkad’s complaint also cites terrorist activity and anti-American sentiment in the region in the period leading up to the attacks, and points to involvement by Zarqawi in a similar attempt against the Radisson in 1999, as well as his involvement in the 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Amman and a thwarted 2004 chemical weapons attack plot against U.S. and Jordanian government facilities. It accuses the defendants of leaving the hotel totally accessible from the street, removing metal detectors that had previously been located at the entrance, and failing to provide adequate security personnel and bomb-sniffing dogs.
Akkad’s attorney, R. Browne Greene of Santa Monica, called the suit “a very important step for consumer safety in light of the fact that the hotel was on notice regarding terrorist threats to the city and the community.”
“This case was brought for the millions exposed to terrorism everywhere,” Greene said. “It puts hotels on notice that they have to protect their guests.”
Global Hyatt Corporation is based in Cook County, where the suit was brought. Representatives of the company did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company