Demand Jordan extradites celebrity terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, the Sbarro massacre bomber, now

Demand Jordan extradites celebrity terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, the Sbarro massacre bomber, now

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The massacre: On August 9, 2001, a Jordanian woman, Ahlam Tamimi, escorted a young Palestinian Arab male from Ramallah to Jerusalem by bus and taxi. Accustomed to dressing in traditional fashion, both disguised themselves to resemble tourists. She walked him from the Old City’s Damascus Gate into the Israeli capital’s commercial center. There, minutes after she rushed away to safety, he detonated the guitar case slung across his shoulder inside the crowded Sbarro pizzeria. Fifteen persons were murdered. 130 others were injured, many severely. A young mother remains hospitalized in a permanent vegetative state to this day. Among the dead were two U.S. citizens: Malki Roth, 15, and Shoshana Hayman Greenbaum, 31, a visitor from New Jersey, recently married and pregnant with her first child.

The mastermind: Tamimi, born and educated in Jordan and a part-time newsreader at a Ramallah TV station, was the first woman ever to be admitted to the ranks of Hamas terrorists. Her role went far beyond escorting Al-Masri to the pizzeria. She visited Jerusalem several times that summer, scouting potential massacre sites for her Hamas masters, selecting Sbarro and choreographing the brutal massacre. To this day, she remains unrepentant, publicly reveling in her role as planner of the Sbarro devastation which she has called “my operation.” A viral video captures Tamimi beaming with delight on being told the bombing extinguished the lives of even more children than she thought. 

Free in Jordan: Ahlam Tamimi today lives in Jordan where she is a television personality and icon of the kingdom’s social media and public opinion. Since returning there, she has married, established herself as a public figure and journalist and serves as a high-profile lightning rod for expressions of vicious, lethal terrorism. The Justice Department of the United States unveiled terrorism charges against her in 2017 and formally notified Jordan of its request that she be extradited to face trial in Washington.

Thwarted extradition: Jordan signed an extradition treaty with the United States since 1995 and has extradited Jordanian fugitives every time this was requested. But on the basis of a narrow technical argument, Jordan has stated its firm refusal to hand the confessed bomber over for prosecution. It keeps her safe from all U.S. law enforcement efforts. Tamimi is today the most wanted female terrorist in the world, included on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and the subject of a $5 Million US government reward. Jordan, a close and highly dependent U.S. ally, receives $1.5 billion a year in U.S. aid. 

The campaign: Malki Roth’s parents have campaigned since 2012 for the United States to firmly urge compliance by Jordan in bringing Tamimi to justice. Their persistence has led to two significant developments. First: In December 2019, Congress legislated a powerful sanction that potentially will stop U.S. foreign aid to Jordan because of its treaty breach. President Trump signed this into law on December 20, 2019. And secondly: Seven Congressional lawmakers wrote to Jordan’s Ambassador in Washington on April 30, 2020 noting how the sanction reflects “the deep concern of the Congress, the Administration and the American people” and affirming that “it is of the highest importance to US/Jordan relations that an outcome is found that honors Jordanian law while ensuring this unrepentant terrorist and murderer of innocent Americans is brought to US justice.” 

Why does this matter? The unrepentant murderer’s freedom and celebrity status sends out a deplorable message: that in some societies, blood-drenched terrorists who execute cruel and inhumane acts of murder of innocents can evade justice. 

The world cannot accept this. Period. Our call to action is that the United States must apply all necessary pressure NOW so that Jordan, after years of avoiding a hard decision, complies with its legal, moral and treaty obligations in the Tamimi extradition.