U.S. Seeks Extradition of Palestinian Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi

(November 8, 2019 Washington, DC) Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) highly applauds the U.S. State Department’s statement that the U.S. Extradition Treaty with Jordan is both legal and valid. In 2017, the U.S. requested the extradition of the notorious Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Tamimi.  Ahlam Tamimi designed and executed the bombing of the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001 that left 15 innocent civilians killed. That same year, Jordan refused to extradite Tamimi, claiming that there was no valid extradition treaty with the U.S.

In October 2019, the State Department published a report that explicitly stated that the U.S. considers its extradition treaty with Jordan to be legal and valid. This disputed a Jordanian court ruling from 2017 that said just the opposite. Jordan’s 2017 claim is also inconsistent with its prior willingness, on at least three separate occasions, to extradite Jordanian nationals to the U.S. to face criminal terrorism charges there.  All of these terrorists were tried and imprisoned in the U.S. One of them was the notorious Eyad Ismoil, who participated in the 1993 bombing of the Twin Towers, and was extradited to the U.S. in 1997.  He is now serving time in a U.S. prison.

The U.S. is seeking the extradition of Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, who has been charged for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S., resulting in death. The criminal charge is related to Tamimi’s planning and implementing of a suicide bombing at a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001, that killed 15 people, and injured 122 others in the attack. Among the American victims of this terrorist act: Judith Greenbaum, a pregnant woman, and Malka Roth, a fifteen-year-old child, both of whom were killed.  Four Americans, David Danzig, Matthew Gordon, Joanne Nachenberg, and Sara Nachenberg, were injured. Joanne Nachenberg has been in a continuous vegetative state since the bombing.

Tamimi has also been well-rewarded for her terrorism. In late 2011, Tamimi was released from prison by Israel as part of the trade of over one thousand Palestinian terrorists for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was being held by Hamas. She was given monetary rewards by both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. She then moved to Jordan, where she was until recently hosting her own television show for Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV station. She also periodically appeared on the secular Jordanian television show, “Carnival,” where she was praised for her dastardly act of terrorism.

Ahlam Tamimi has been unrepentant about her actions. In numerous recordings, she has voiced her pleasure regarding the number of Jewish children killed by her terrorism. Many of these recordings may be found on YouTube, such as here and here.

Tamimi is only one of the more notorious Palestinian terrorists that are glorified by the PA as heroes and treated as employees of the PA government. While in prison, these terrorists and their families are paid salaries and receive benefits as rewards for their service.

There are a large number of Americans who have been harmed by Palestinian terrorists. 141 American citizens have been killed, and 196 wounded, by Palestinian terrorists in Israel or Judea or Samaria since 1968. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, when the PA agreed to fight terrorism, 69 innocent Americans, plus two unborn children, have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in Israel or the disputed territories. Since 1991, thanks to the Anti-terrorism Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has had the legal tools to prosecute Palestinian terrorists who have killed or wounded Americans.

For well over two decades, EMET has been fighting for justice for those Americans victims of Palestinian terrorism in Israel and the disputed territories. EMET focused on the unwillingness of the DOJ to indict, extradite, and prosecute a single Palestinian terrorist with American blood on his/her hands. Since 2005, there has been an office within the DOJ – the Office of Justice of Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT) – to pressure the DOJ to prosecute. EMET’s Sarah Stern was instrumental in the initial creation of the OVT. This DOJ unit is meant to monitor acts of terrorism against Americans outside the U.S., to assist the living victims and their families, and, most importantly, to pressure the DOJ to bring to justice those terrorists who have harmed Americans anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, until today, neither the DOJ nor the OVT had helped produce a single DOJ prosecution of Palestinian terrorists on American soil who have harmed Americans in Israel or Judea or Samaria. Furthermore, neither the OVT, nor the DOJ, ever adequately explained their prior unwillingness to prosecute these Palestinian terrorists.

However, this refusal by the State Department to acknowledge the Jordanian excuse that no extradition treaty exists between the United States and the Hashemite Kingdom is a long-awaited step in the right direction.

In the years since 2005, EMET has doggedly been working to make sure that any Palestinian terrorist who harms an American is brought to justice. EMET has held a staff briefing on Capitol Hill, bringing in American victims and family members. EMET has also met with well over 100 offices to explain to them this issue. EMET has worked with a bipartisan group of House members, and Senators, to produce numerous letters to the DOJ, demanding prosecutions of these terrorists, and also assisted in finding co-sponsors for these letters. On November 4, 2015, thanks in large part to EMET’s tireless efforts, a Senate Subcommittee led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) held an oversight hearing, primarily focusing on Iranian funded Palestinian terrorism and civil lawsuits. EMET prompted another hearing by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), the Subcommittee Chairman for the National Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Government Reform, on January 27, 2016, focusing on criminal prosecutions and the OVT.  EMET originally brought this critical issue to the attention of Rep. DeSantis and assisted the Subcommittee for the hearing. For the first time ever, a DOJ representative, Brad Wiegmann, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division, who supervises the OVT and these prosecutions, was called to account for the DOJ’s lack of prosecution. He was also forced to agree to provide a report to the Subcommittee on DOJ/OVT progress.

Jordan is currently the third largest recipient of annual U.S. foreign aid, at over a billion dollars a year. The United States has provided economic and military aid to Jordan since 1951 and additional millions since 1994 when they signed a peace treaty with Israel. Total bilateral U.S. aid (overseen by the Departments of State and Defense) to Jordan through FY2017 amounted to approximately $20.4 billion. Jordan also has received hundreds of millions in additional military aid since FY2014 channeled through the Defense Department’s various security assistance accounts.

EMET Founder and President, Sarah Stern, said, “I would like to applaud the State Department’s recognition that the U.S. and Jordan have a legal and valid extradition treaty.” She continued, “Jordan has already extradited at least three Jordanian terrorists to the U.S., so it is patently ridiculous that now the Jordanian government is pretending that there is no valid extradition treaty with us. Jordan needs to immediately extradite Ahlam Tamimi for criminal trial on American soil, for her despicable act of terrorism that killed and wounded so many, including several American citizens. The United States has been an extremely generous donor to Jordan since 1994, and it is about time we stop appeasing the Middle Eastern beneficiaries of our magnificent largess. It is high time we remember that the United States stands for certain resolute, unwavering principles, including, at the minimum, valuing the lives of our own citizens, and not bowing to the perpetrators of terrorism and their enablers. It is also high time that we stop acting like we are the supplicants to the whims of the Middle Eastern street. In the absence of the serious pursuit of justice for the victims of Palestinian terrorism, we are telegraphing a message of weakness and of acquiescence to the hegemonic aspirations of terrorists. The world needs to understand that there are serious consequences for their moral, political, and material support of terrorism, and that American inveterate principles do not bend with the wind.”

About the Author

The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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