Department of Justice Must Prosecute Palestinian ‘Oprah’

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Meet the Hamas version of Oprah.  Her name is Ahlam Tamimi, and she is the terrorist responsible for the 2001 suicide bomber attack at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people and injured another 132.  Among the American victims of this despicable act – Judith Greenbaum and Malka Roth, who were both killed; and David Danzig, Matthew Gordon, Joanne Nachenberg, and Sara Nachenberg, all of whom were injured.  Malka Roth was only fifteen years old, one of eight children killed in the bombing.

Tamimi didn’t realize, at the time, that she had killed eight children until after she was imprisoned in an Israeli jail; when an interviewer told her the true body count, she couldn’t wipe the smile off of her face.

On October 18, 2011, Ahlam Tamimi was released by Israel after serving only ten years of her 16 life sentences in a swap for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.  (Shalit had been kidnapped by Hamas.)  She was then deported to Jordan.  Now, Tamimi has been given a Hamas-produced, heavily advertised, weekly show on Al-Quds satellite channel, which focuses on the sob stories of other Palestinian terrorists, those still imprisoned in Israel, and those recently released.  Considering the popularity of anti-Semitism in the Arab world, this is probably only the beginning of Tamimi’s career.  Perhaps she will expand her show to include segments that appeal to Palestinian women, like those focusing on Dalal Mughrabi the Martyr, and/or content produced for Palestinian children, like those focusing on Assud the “Rascally” Jew-Hating Rabbit.

As usual, few in the Western world seem to care much what the moral degenerates who rule Hamastan are doing. The Obama Administration is still too busy trying to keep the aid flowing to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, either directly or indirectly through the United Nations. The U.N. is still too busy condemning Israel for whatever action or inaction the Jewish state is up to.  The European Union is too busy castigating Israel for imaginary offenses in Gaza that somehow are said to be equal the actual terrorist killing of three Jewish children and a Rabbi in France. The U.S. State Department is too busy playing verbal calisthenics to avoid acknowledging that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel.

And the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is too busy, well… not enforcing United States law when it comes to Palestinian terrorists who have killed or injured Americans.

For example, there is the Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 USC Sec. 2332, which requires the prosecution and punishment, in United States courts, of individuals who murder or maim American citizens in acts of international terrorism. A conspirator in such a crime can get up to 20 years imprisonment, and no statute of limitations precludes prosecution of old offenses.  There is 18 USC Sec. 2332f, which makes it a federal crime to use an explosive bomb “against a national of the United States while such national is outside of the United States.”  There have been (at least) 71 instances of Palestinian terrorism that have resulted in the murder of (at least) 54 Americans and the wounding of (at least) another 83 Americans. However, none of the Palestinian terrorists behind these attacks have ever been prosecuted by the United States.

Some of the terrorists who were involved in some of these attacks were released, like Ahlam Tamimi, by Israel, which was acting under extreme duress to get back its own citizen. Thus, Israeli law can no longer reach out and punish them. But there is no law or treaty that bars the United States from independently prosecuting these Palestinian terrorists.  In fact, the DOJ even has an entire unit – the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT) – that was created in 2005 and is supposed to monitor acts of terrorism against Americans outside the U.S. and pressure the rest of the D.O.J. to bring to justice those terrorists who have harmed Americans.

Recently, fifty-two U.S. Congressmen sent a letter to the Attorney General, asking him, the OJVOT, and his entire Department to do their job, and prosecute these Palestinian terrorists. In response to the concerns of some of the family members of the American victims, the Washington-based Endowment for Middle East Truth persuaded this bipartisan group of Congressmen to sponsor this letter. But other groups have also pushed for the prosecution of these terrorists, including the Parents Forum for Justice, a group of U.S. citizens and parents whose children were murdered or maimed by terrorists, which is led by Dr. Alan Bauer.

There have already been some small results from this pressure – in an email leaked to the Jerusalem Post, Heather Cartwright, director of the OJVOT, said “the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the prosecutorial office responsible for these cases, plans to meet with U.S. victims of terrorist acts involving Shalit deal prisoners.” Cartwright also stated that the Department of Justice is “taking the matter of prosecuting terrorists very seriously.”

But apparently, we shouldn’t get too excited about bringing these Palestinian terrorists with American blood on their hands to justice.  Ms. Cartwright has also interjected a note of caution about any future U.S. prosecutions, saying there are “significant impediments to pursuing criminal charges in the United States court system for these particular foreign-based attacks.” These DOJ officials are always realists, you understand.  They recognize that it is not so simple to go after vicious terrorists who kill Americans, like Ahlam Tamimi. After all, in the case of Tamimi, we would have to go to Jordan and demand her extradition! Can we really do that? Yes we can. Then, we would have to prepare a strong legal case against her, even though her act of terrorism is over a decade old. Remember, every legal case requires certain procedures to protect the innocent, and proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant. And it’s not like Tamimi is going to admit to the crime, is she?

Oh wait, she already did.

Adam Turner serves as staff counsel to the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He is a former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee where he focused on national security law.

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Kyle Shideler
Kyle Shideler is the Director of Research and Communications for the Endowment for Middle East Truth

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