Friday, March 24, 2017

24-Mar-17: Our daughter's smiling killer: "Shocked" that US "decided to go after her for no obvious reason"

Tamimi is crowded by admirers at Amman airport on the day
she was flown back to Jordan after being freed from Israeli prison
in the 2011 Shalit Deal
The following article was published by Al Jazeera in Arabic on Wednesday and in English yesterday (Thursday). It's an entirely uncritical account of a vicious convicted murderer's version of why she should be left alone and not have to face justice. The reporter does not challenge a single one of this fugitive from the FBI's claims. People have told us it really comes down to a sick tribute to her hideous achievement.

Our comments are interspersed below. 


Al Jazeera speaks to freed Palestinian prisoner, wanted by the US for helping in a Jerusalem cafe bombing 16 years ago | Ali Younes | @ali_reports |

Amman, Jordan - Ahlam al-Tamimi, 37, never imagined that the quiet life she led for several years in Jordan would be turned upside down when the United States Department of Justice filed criminal charges against her demanding her extradition from Jordan and placing her on the FBI's most wanted list.
Our comment: She was freed via an extorted commutation of sentence. Israel was extorted by the Hamas terrorist regime which illegally held captive and incommunicado an Israeli combatant, Gilad Shalit, for five years, eventually trading him for 1,027 convicted Arab terrorists imprisoned by Israel. Tamimi was one of them. Not a single prisoner received a pardon. Instead, their sentences were conditionally commuted - with the conditions including an undertaking never to engage again in terrorism or incitement to terrorism. 
Tamimi was serving 16 life terms after confessing to being the mastermind of the Sbarro pizzeria massacre, an especially sickening and horrific terror attack that targeted children and woman. Tamimi was the one who did the actual targeting and, as she has boasted repeatedly, picked the target with great care. She brought the bomb by bus and taxi from a PA-controlled town in the Samaria district into Jerusalem. That bomb was a young newly-religious fanatic from well-to-do family: not poor, not uneducated, living neither in misery nor despair: a human bomb. He was equipped with an explosive-laden, purpose-built guitar case on his back surrounded by a large number of nails to magnify the flesh-ripping effect. Tamimi walked him to the central Jerusalem intersection where the Sbarro pizzeria stood at the time and where, after giving her enough time to flee to safety, he exploded while standing next to our 15 year-old daughter and her closest friend, the 16 year-old daughter of our neighbours. Both girls, and 13 other innocent victims, were killed. About 130 others, many of them on the street outside the pizzeria, suffered life-changing, often horrendous,  injuries. 
Tamimi explicitly breached the conditions of her commutation-of-sentence almost from the first day after her release. Under the terms of the release she is obliged, if Israel can re-capture her, to go back to prison and complete her 16 life terms. Does all of this entitle Tamimi to what the article calls "quiet life"? But wait, it gets worse.
In an interview with Al Jazeera at her home in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Tamimi said that her ordeal with the US extradition request started last September when she was arrested by the Jordanian branch of Interpol while she was driving to visit her parents. After spending one night in jail, she posted bail and started her legal fight against her extradition through Jordanian courts, which ended last Tuesday, seven months later.
Our comment: Who is "the Jordanian branch of Interpol"? They probably mean the Jordanian police. Interpol doesn't have police. It connects police forces around the world with information and co-ordination. And that's an ordeal? For a convicted, confessed mass murderer? Taken into custody for a single night and then released? Knowing something about the kind of extremist values Al Jazeera espouses, we shouldn't be surprised by the undisguised way this reporter spins the interview. But it's infuriating to us to see how seriously they are taken as a credible source of news and analysis.
When asked why she thinks the US government decided to go after her after all these years, and after she was tried, convicted and served time in Israeli jails, she said: "I was really shocked at the American behaviour.
Our comment: The claim that she's shocked is laughable. Her post-2011 high profile terror incitement activities make her liable to re-imprisonment by Israel. We assume that's why she has never ventured further than certain parts of the Arab world in the past 6 years: to Algeria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Tunisia and Yemen. And if she's not aware of Title 18, United States Code Section 2332a(a)(1) which prohibits using a weapon of mass destruction against a US citizen outside the US then she should. She's a journalist and nowhere near as naive as she now pretends to be. Also: she should get better lawyers.
"The US government, who is always trying to solve the problems of the world, especially in the Middle East, has decided to go after one woman for no obvious reasons."
Our comment: No obvious reason except for her having murdered US citizens and proudly confessed to her sickening crimes.  
Tamimi on Kuwaiti TV, June 2012: Invented casualties [Image Source]
In 2013, the US government filed under seal a criminal complaint against Tamimi based on her assistance in an August 9, 2001, bombing of Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two American citizens. The criminal complaint was unsealed publicly last week.
Our comment: An assistant? No, she planned and masterminded the massacre. In dozens of TV, press and social media interviews since walking free, she has highlighted her key role, not hesitating to exaggerate her achievements and make up explosions that never happened when that suits her. For instance, in a June 2012 interview on Kuwait's Iqraa TV channel [video here] she explained her work with Hamas:: "I was assigned three missions. The first mission was to spot locations suitable for Jihadi operations. I would go to Jerusalem and walk around in the areas frequented by the Zionists... I would surveil suitable locations... I would submit reports to the cell commander and this report would be studied... My second mission was to carry out Jihadi operations. I was assigned this mission. I would take explosive devices... I learned how to operate one of those explosive devices, and I took it to a supermarket..." She then goes on to claim that the supermarket - the Co-op Supermarket that was located in the basement of the Mashbir department store on King George - "completely exploded. At the time, the Israelis said that nobody had been killed or wounded... it was normal for them to conceal the number of casualties, in order to avoid panic among the Zionists." In reality, no one was injured or killed, and while the basement was damaged, the rest of the building - a Jerusalem landmark until it was substantially gutted and renovated this year - was undamaged and intact. She's inventing things to enhance her standing.
Federal prosecutors accuse Tamimi of having agreed in the summer of 2001 to carry out attacks on behalf of the military wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement and having travelled with the restaurant bomber to Jerusalem. Prosecutors say that she instructed the bomber to detonate the explosive device, which was hidden in a guitar, in the area.
Our comment: Accuse her? She doesn't deny any of this. You can hear her tell it over in her own words on a variety of different websites. For instance, in that same 2012 Kuwaiti TV interview, she begins with this: "I was a journalism student... and I was working in the media and the press. This allowed me to become a member of the Palestinian Journalists Union. The union card enabled me to enter Jerusalem in order to conduct interviews. This drew the attention of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. They realized that I could enter and leave Jerusalem, without the knowledge of the Zionists... This made them ask me to join the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and I immediately accepted." The Brigades are the operational arm of Hamas' terrorist activity.
Tamimi told Al Jazeera that she never knew that American nationals were killed in that bombing. She also said the Israeli government never mentioned that during her trial. "The first time I ever knew that Americans were killed was when the Interpol in Jordan told me about the charges filed in the US against me," she said.
Our comment: We don't know what she knew or didn't know. But as a journalist with a lot of time on her hands during her eight years in a wired, well-facilitated Israeli prison, not knowing after all these years that there were American victims is unlikely. Also: it makes no difference to her criminal culpability. Absolutely irrelevant.
Tamimi believes the complaint was a result of pressure from US-based pro-Israel groups. "These groups have somehow been able to steer the US government to go after me...
Our comment: Wrong. We began our pursuit of her via the DoJ in early 2012, three months after she walked free from her Israeli cell. No, we're not US-based. Yes, we are pro-Israel. 
...even after I was convicted and spent many years in Israeli prisons."
Our comment: The massacre took place on the afternoon of August 9, 2001. She was arrested in September 2001 when she was 21 years old. She pleaded guilty to all charges at her trial in June 2003 and was sentenced in September 2003 to 16 terms of life imprisonment. She was released in October 2011. Sixteen terms of life imprisonment would be "many years in Israeli prisons". What she served was not.
This is the woman who says she wants to put it all behind her.
The "it" that "was great" is the slaughter of Jewish children including
our 15 year old daughter Malki. Does the Al Jazeera guy know this?
Certainly.
Last year, Jordanian lower courts handed her legal victory when it rejected the US request on the ground that the US-Jordan extradition treaty signed in 1995 was unconstitutional because it was never ratified by the Jordanian Parliament.
Our comment: There's much to say about this claim, all of it critical and mostly dismissive. Maybe later. Suffice to say for now that in a monarchy where the king changes prime ministers and governments more often than some presidents change their suits, there's an inherent problem in paying so much respectful attention to a constitution. Jordanian law and what is legal and illegal depends on one individual. If they wanted to extradite her, she would be in the US today. 
And a variety of Jordan versions have emerged of what its courts have ruled and when, and what its constitution says. A clear picture we're certainly not getting. They say whatever they need to say.
We received a formal response from the DoJ in Washington this week stating its official view. They say the Extradition Treaty between the US and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was signed on March 28, 1995 in Washington DC. This, please note, was followed by the exchange of instruments of ratification on July 29, 1995. In the DOJ's view, the Treaty entered into force that same day and continues in force. It is listed in "Treaties in Force: A List of Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States in Force on January 1, 2011," the Department of State's publication that that provides information on treaties and other international agreements to which the United States has become a party and which are carried on the records of the Department of State as being in force as of the stated publication date. 
In simpler words, the US which is the other party to a two-sided agreement has no doubt that it is fully in effect. 
But that's not the whole story. The DoJ told us that on January 25, 1997 - more than two decades ago - the Jordanian Court of Cassation (evidently the same court that ruled the treaty ineffective this past Monday) held that the Treaty was unconstitutional. That was said to be because Jordan had not submitted the Treaty to its Parliament for endorsement. And in the twenty years since then, Jordan's parliament has still "not approved the Treaty" in the language of the DoJ letter to us. 
So why is the same question being presented to what we are told is Jordan's highest court over and again? And who is presenting the other side - the argument that Jordan can and must extradite? We may never find out but we are trying. But clearly the Jordanians, for whom Tamimi is a national (Palestinian Arab) hero, won't be offering any clarification. 
On Monday, Jordan's Supreme Court agreed with the lower court's decisions making her extradition legally impossible for Jordan. "All of the Jordanian courts agreed with our position to reject the American request because it was illegal according to Jordan's constitution," Hikmat Rawashdeh, Tamimi's lawyer, told Al Jazeera.
Our comment: So if the higher Jordanian court agreed with the lower Jordanian court and both say Tamimi cannot be extradited, who appealed from the lower court which is a court of appeal?  
About Mr Rawashdeh, Tamimi's lawyer in these recent proceedings, here's something that Wikileaks knows about him: "The defendants' lawyer Hikmat Rawashdeh argued during his closing remarks that, "Most Jordanians wish to fight Americans and Israelis and I am one of them.  Should I be punished for this intention?  If this is the case then the authorities should punish the entire Jordanian population." [Source: Wikileaks from March 2006] We can surely rely on him to tell us the truth, right Aljazeera?.
"The constitution bars extraditing any Jordanian citizen without the due process of the law or proper extradition request, which was not done by the American side," he added.
Our comment: Maybe yes, maybe no. Certainly Aljazeera's clever reporter didn't express a view on that or consult any other experts. Our experience is the Department of Justice people are competent and know how to fill in forms. The reference to "due process" from a Jordan-Palestinian mass murderer is a sad joke. 
We learned from speaking with the American law-and-order people with whom we have been in steady contact for some years that there have been several extradition requests made to the Jordanians over the years. One succeeded - the case of a fugitive called Eyad Ismoil, extradited to the US in 1995. Ismoil, who like Tamimi and about 70% of the Jordanian population considers himself a Palestinian, drove a bomb-laden truck into the parking garage of the World Trade Center in 1993. That bombing attack killed six people and injured more than 1,000. The U.S. District Judge hearing the case ordered Ismoil to pay more than $10 million in restitution "just to make sure that you never make a dime out of this."
Rawashdeh also said that Jordan's constitution prevents prosecuting an accused person with the same offence twice, similar to the "double jeopardy" clause in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Our comment: Double jeopardy has no application in Tamimi's case - we have heard this from a string of legal experts. She is being charged in a different country on different charges.
Al Jazeera asked the US Justice Department for its reaction to the Jordanian court ruling and whether the US government would review its extradition treaty with Jordan or renew its demand for extradition. "As a matter of policy, the Department [of Justice] generally does not comment on extradition-related matters," Peter Carr, a spokesman for the US Justice Department wrote in an email to Al Jazeera.

As a result of Jordan's Supreme Court decision, Tamimi is no longer wanted by the Interpol in Jordan. She is still, however, a wanted person internationally by Interpol and could face arrest should she travel outside Jordan.
Our comment: We're checking with Interpol. But this is probably true. Once the Jordanians told Interpol their law did not allow for Tamimi's extradition, Interpol had nothing more to do.
Tamimi was a 20-year-old college student when she was arrested in Israel and pleaded guilty during her trial. She was sentenced in 2003 to 16 life terms in prison for her role in the bombing. She said that after her arrest, she was held for 43 days, during which was subjected to physical and psychological torture.

"I was subjected to cruel treatment by Israeli jailers, and was never allowed to even have proper hygiene or make contact with family or have access to a lawyer," she said.

After spending 10 years in Israeli jails, during which she was rarely allowed to talk to her family, Tamimi was freed from prison in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas.
Our comment: Some prisoner exchange. Shalit was kidnapped and held hostage - a war crime - for more than five years by Hamas. He was denied visits from the Red Cross; was not allowed to communicate with family members (to which he was entitled under the Geneva Conventions).The Shalit Deal, consummated in October 2011, resulted in prisoners collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths, including Tamimi, walking free. Tamimi's deprivations, if not entirely invented, are trivial by comparison with Shalit's. And if she complained about them to the Red Cross or to one of the many accessible and sympathetic Israeli lawyers, it remained a secret. Which is not what we believe. Telling the truth comes her to this woman. 
She said she was in utter shock that the US government decided to go after her, insisting that she committed no crimes against the US government or on US soil, or that she tried to kill US citizens intentionally.
Our comment: Tamimi's shock again: she's being poorly advised on how US law works. Or pretending that there's some merit to her contentions. There's none.
Tamimi said she witnessed many of her friends and fellow students killed in "cold blood" by the Israeli army.
Our comment: We have yet to hear of an Islamist terrorist who does not justify his or her atrocities by referring to vaguely described Israeli actions.
Evidence that the murderer has been more frank
in previous interviews
In 2000, the Palestinian occupied territories were engulfed in a bloody uprising called the "Al-Aqsa Intifada" against the Israeli occupation. Between the years 2000 and 2005, Israeli forces killed 3,136 Palestinians while 431 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. "From a Palestinian, as well as international law perspective, it is perfectly legitimate to resist the Israeli occupation," she said. "We only wanted freedom for our country, not to kill Israelis or others for the sake of killing."
Our comment: Tamimi masterminded an armed assault - with a bomb - on a child-filled pizzeria timed to happen on a school vacation afternoon, having looked for one that attracted large crowds of children and their mothers at that hour. She wants us to understand that this was about freedom. Freedom for which country? Does Hamas - which sees itself in a religious conflict - even claim to want to create a country? She denies killing Israelis for the sake of killing, but her actions then and since demonstrate how insincere and false her denial is. 
That she didn't want to kill Israelis is a bald-faced lie that persuades her backers. She has said publicly - and been praised for it in the demonic circles from where her support comes - that she wanted to kill Israelis, she wanted to kill religious Jews, that she wanted to kill children. She sought a Jerusalem location where she could achieve these goals. The Sbarro pizzeria on that hot afternoon supplied everything she sought.
The self-serving nonsense of "we only wanted freedom" comes directly from the Islamist terror playbook. It works; headline writers love it and it's a great fig-leaf when your real position is indefensible. 
About the freedom of our daughter Malki and all the others who lives were terminated or damaged by the woman who never wanted to kill, we simply don't ask. The answer is obvious. 
Since her release from Israeli jails, Tamimi said she has tried to put the past behind her and tries to have a normal life for and her husband. Soon after her release from jail, she got married to Nizar al-Tamimi, 44, a relative, who spent 19 years in Israeli jails for killing an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank and was released at the same time as Ahlam.
Our comment: Tamimi wants to put the past behind her? That's understandable - but absurd. She recounts the past and her glorious role in it at every opportunity for audiences of millions of people and on this, she is convincing. She has said explicitly and repeatedly that she regrets nothing; she would do it again. She glories in the fame and adulation she gets for her murders from every part of the Arab world (we're willing to provide evidence to anyone who wants). She has said she feels no sympathy for the Israeli children she murdered or their families. She said it again today to Associated Press - see their fawning interview with her here
She was asked, immediately after reaching Jordan in October 2011, whether she would do it the same way, on the same huge scale, if she could go back in time. Her response [here] ought to be engraved in cement: "Of course. I do not regret what happened. Absolutely not. This is the path. I dedicated myself to Jihad for the sake of Allah [nothing to do with national liberation or resistance - it's religious warfare for her and her fellow Islamists], and Allah granted me success. You know how many casualties there were [at the Sbarro pizzeria]? This was made possible by Allah. Do you want me to denounce what I did? That’s out of the question. I would do it again today, and in the same manner." Clear enough?
So what exactly is it that Al Jazeera thinks she wants to put behind her? This woman's life is the polar opposite of someone who is trying to get past the savage, hateful crimes of her younger years (she's now 37). She will say whatever advances her cause at that moment and for that audience. 
Why didn't the clever reporter from Al Jazeera ask her to comment on the normal life that Malki so much wanted, and all the other victims? Or whether she feels regret or understanding or sympathy or a deeper understanding. But the Al Jazeera tribute isn't about truth. It's about getting honoring a woman who is already on a pedestal for getting away with murder and satisfying the blood-lust of an entire society.
"I would like the American people to look at the case against me as an unjust case and speak out to stand with me and the truth," she said. "I want to lead a normal life, continue my education and raise a family. All l want now is for the US government to just leave me alone."
Our comment: We're the parents of one of her murdered victims and it's unbearable for us to listen to the sickening cynicism of a completely unrepentant killer who escaped punishment and complains that the prosecutorial case against her was unjust. The only aspect that is unjust is that she is alive and free.
* * *

We tweeted yesterday about Al Jazeera's shameless tribute to an unrepentant killer of children. Addressing the reporter, Ali Younes, we wrote:
He hasn't bothered responding.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

23-Mar-17: Looking for justice in Jordan, Jerusalem and Washington

The article below originally appeared on the website of Times of Israel yesterday.

Father of Jerusalem bombing victim vows to keep pushing for terrorist’s extradition

After Jordan’s top court denies American request to arrest Ahlam al-Tamimi, who helped carry out 2001 Sbarro attack, Arnold Roth says he’ll take fight to court of public opinion
DOV LIEBER | Times of Israel | March 22, 2017, 1:27 pm  

Nearly 16 years ago, Arnold Roth lost his daughter Malki in a suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizza shop in central Jerusalem. Now he’s saying he won’t give up his fight to make sure a female terrorist who helped plan and carry out the attack sees justice.

Roth’s daughter was among 15 people killed in the August 9, 2001, bombing, and one of two American fatalities. On Monday, Jordan’s top court upheld an order refusing an American extradition order for Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, who was convicted over the bombing in an Israeli court but has been living free in Jordan the last several years.

Roth is vowing to continue to push for Tamimi to be shipped off to the US to be punished over the bombing, which also injured 122 people, including several Americans, when it ripped through the shop in the midst of the Second Intifada.

According to the US Justice Department, which recently unsealed the extradition order, Tamimi helped plan the bombing, including choosing the location for maximum casualties, and brought the suicide bomber to the restaurant.

Roth expressed great doubt over whether the Jordanian ruling was legitimate, rather than just a political cover-up.

“I’m skeptical based on years of seeing the way formal decisions are taken and announced in the Arab world,” Roth said.

Jordan’s top court ruled Tamimi couldn’t be handed over to the US because a 1995 extradition agreement between the two countries was never ratified by the Jordanian parliament.

“Perhaps there is a constitutional prohibition against extradition. But they have had more than two decades to figure that out,” said Roth, who is a practicing lawyer.

He added, however, that “looking back at news reports of 1995, when the extradition agreement was made, no one raised the issue of any constitutional barrier.”

“I want clearer heads than mine to look at this. For instance, the American authorities in Jordan,” he said.

US authorities did not react to the Jordanian ruling, and a Justice Department official declined to comment. However Roth, who says he has begun talking to US lawmakers about continuing to push for the extradition, said he understood the Americans had been caught off guard by Amman’s refusal.

“People are outraged and a lot of them are Americans. We’ve had a real outpouring of support and anger from people who have observed that Jordan gets a terrific media image in the US,” he said.

Now that Jordan has refused to allow Tamimi’s extradition, he said, “the next step has to do with helping the Jordanians understand the disgrace they’ve brought upon themselves by the unconscionable approach to this. And that involves talking to Congress, which I’ve started to move on, and alerting American public opinion.”

“It’s clear to us there is no one to talk to on the Jordanian side. It’s all about carrots and sticks,” he said.

“What they have done now is enough to be the fly in the ointment. It spoils the image. We will find ways, with friends, to help people come to fuller understanding in the role that Jordan plays,” he said.

Because Tamimi is considered a hero in Jordan, Roth asserted, “no politician will take the risk of handing her off to the Americans. They will come up with any excuses they need.”

“In a country where the king changes the government as often I as change shirts, it’s hard to take seriously the claim that the constitution prevents this or that,” he added.

There was no immediate comment from Jordanian officials.

In 2003, Tamimi pleaded guilty in an Israeli court to multiple counts of murder and was sentenced to 16 terms of life in prison, but was released and returned to Jordan in 2011 as part of the deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, for whom Israel exchanged 1,027 prisoners.

In March, Tamimi was charged by the US with “conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals outside the US, resulting in death.” She was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord called Tamimi “an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims.”

Roth, originally from Australia, and his wife Frimet Roth, who is from New York (and has blogged for The Times of Israel), have lived in Israel since 1988. After their daughter’s murder, they became active in seeking justice over the bombing and founded Keren Malki, or Malki Foundation, named for their daughter, which raises money for special-needs children.

Roth said he and Frimet are the only people who lost someone in the Sbarro bombing to pursue Tamimi, circulating a petition against the prisoner swap in 2011 and approaching the US Justice Department in the middle of 2012.

Roth also expressed “puzzlement” over the way the indictment of Tamimi has been handled by the US authorities.

“We’re puzzled, my wife and I, by the way in which the indictment was in the hands of the prosecutors for four years. We are wondering why the US is not being more forthright in putting the blame where it belongs, which is in the hands of the Jordanian authorities,” he said.

Hamas, the Gaza-based terror group that Tamimi was a member of, argued that the US has no right to extradite her because she was already freed by Israel in a prisoner exchange.

Roth challenged this argument, saying Tamimi was not absolved of her crime, but that her sentence, along with the other 1,026 prisoners released in the Shalit deal, was commuted, meaning that her sentenced was shortened “for pragmatic reasons.”

“But the commutations were made with conditions. In simple terms, it had to do with not going back to terrorism. And there is no question that Tamimi has breached those conditions,” said Roth.

Tamimi had hosted a weekly television show broadcast on Hamas’s satellite station, in which she continued to support terrorist attacks.

In September 2016, Tamimi suddenly stopped hosting the show.

Roth speculated that Tamimi was tipped off about the US indictment by someone in the Jordanian government, and so she quit her show to make herself “less high-profile.”

“For the first time since our daughter was murdered, we are surrounded by people want to help,” said Roth.

---
Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent. Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

21-Mar-17: Gaza's Hamas-driven terrorism: no longer just in Gaza

A mass of green: Not Gaza but Hamas supporters rally during
student elections on the campus of Birzeit University, near Ramallah
April 26, 2016 [Image Source: AFP]
Hamas along with some of its smaller terrorism counterparts in Gaza have been transferring much of their focus and energies to the West Bank and expanding their malign influence and operations there. This emerges from a reported delivered by the Shin Bet's head, Nadav Argaman, to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday (Monday). He was named to the post almost exactly a year ago.

These reports are a yearly event, and closely analyzed. From Times of Israel's summary:
Hamas has “significantly increased its efforts to advance terror attacks in the West Bank and Israel,” Argaman said, referring specifically to mass-casualty attacks. “Hamas has found itself in strategic distress and is interested in undermining the security situation in the West Bank through bombings,” he said. To thwart those attempts, Israel has stepped up its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting 1,035 suspected members. Some 114 terror cells were also broken up in 2016, as opposed to 70 the year before — a 62 percent increase, Argaman said.
Some 184 shooting attacks, 16 kidnapping attempts and 16 suicide bombings were thwarted by the Shin Bet in 2016, as were 84 other assorted attacks, mostly stabbings and car-rammings, he said. These figures did not include attacks prevented by Israel’s other security services, like the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police.
Some additional sound bytes from yesterday's briefing:
  • “We’re approaching the Passover holiday. There is no question that the terror networks, particularly Hamas, will try to escalate the situation and carry out terror attacks.” [Israel National News]
  • "Since October 2015, the Palestinian Intifada has sacrificed 256 martyrs and claimed 40 Zionist occupation settlers. Most of the Palestinian martyrs were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, while others were killed during protests in clashes or Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip." [Al-Manar, a terrorism-friendly Hezbollah affiliate which broadcasts news by web and TV from Lebanon]
  • "[D]espite the appearance of relative quiet, Hamas and jihadist groups are trying to mount terror attacks in Israel every day... Argaman said the region is undergoing geopolitical change that will reveberate for years to come, including the implications of the Iran nuclear agreement on terrorism in the Middle East [Haaretz, yesterday]
  • “...the quiet that we’re now experiencing – the relative quiet – is deceptive, a false quiet. Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror infrastructures worldwide are working every day to commit terror attacks... [Israel National News]
  • "Over the past two-and-a-half years, the terrorist group [Hamas] has been rearming in preparation for future conflict with the Jewish state..." [Times of Israel]
  • Over the past year, 16 Israelis and one foreign citizen were murdered in terror attacks inside Israel. [Israel National News]

21-Mar-17: Tamimi extradition: When it's claimed that something is illegal in Jordan...

Aljazeera's Arabic-language news did a poll on March 18, 2017.
Its viewers voted Ahlam Tamimi the biggest story of the week
[Image Source: Aljazeera video grab]
The Jerusalem Post has a report today ["Jordan turns down US extradition request for Sbarro terrorist", March 21, 2017] written by Ben Lynfield on efforts to bring our daughter's murderer to justice. It includes a portion of an interview they did last night with Arnold Roth. 

Extracts:
The ruling means that Tamimi will be able to continue her career as a television host admired for striking a devastating blow against the Israeli enemy rather than face trial and possible death penalty in the US. Tamimi caused the deaths of 15 civilians, including eight children and one pregnant woman and the wounding of 130 people. Two of the dead were US citizens...
Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was killed in the attack, told The Jerusalem Post in response to the Jordanian decision that “four years have passed since the sealed complaint was filed with a judge in Washington. It seems reasonable that the Jordanians have known for some time that the US had an interest in bringing Tamimi before a US judge and that there were ups and downs in those discussions. Jordan is not a democracy, it is a monarchy where governments are created by the king at will.
“When the rest of the world is told something is illegal in Jordan a discerning observer would understand that the people who run Jordan have decided that such and such is now illegal. What’s beyond doubt is that in 1995 Jordan signed an extradition treaty with the US and nothing changed between 1995 and 2017. They certainly don’t have a new constitution,” he said.
“It’s worth pointing out that Tamimi’s first stop when she arrived in Jordan in October 2011 was to a courthouse, the Family Court of Jordan in Amman, where there was a celebration – a public reception to celebrate her freedom and return home.”
King Abdullah II rules as monarch of the Hashemite
Kingdom of Jordan
We wrote about that extraordinary 2011 Jordanian gala reception two days ago [here]. Of the various challenges facing Tamimi, Jordan's court don't appear to be at the top of the list.

They also appear not to be a major concern of the kingdom's authoritative English-language news site, Jordan Times, which (as far as we can tell and we check daily) has not mentioned her or the extradition process even once since they became an issue a week ago. This is in sharp contrast to the general Arab public which voted strongly in an Aljazeera poll a week ago to declare Tamimi as the news person of the week (see photo at the top of this post).

One more aspect of the Jordanian court's ruling: given the extreme gravity of the charges against Tamimi, and the fact that she confessed in court when first tried and then over and again on television since then, might the Jordanian judges have considered placating the Americans by suggesting she stand trial for the same charges in Jordan? Whatever the merits, the fact is they didn't.

Readers wanting a better understanding of the Jordanian political system and its precious constitution ought to see "Jordan’s 2016 constitutional amendments: A return to absolute monarchy?" on the ConstitutionNet website. Also: "Jordan changes constitution to give King more power" (Aljazeera, April 26, 2016). Lots of choice quotes there that curious reporters and their editors could (but so far don't) use in giving context to Jordan's evasion of its 1995 extradition treaty obligations to the United States.

UPDATE March 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm: Over on Elder of Ziyon's outstanding site, there's a new Daled Amos post today ["Jordan Extradited A Terrorist, A Jordanian National, to the US, For the 1995 World Trade Center Bombing - So Why Not Now?"] that bears on these issues. It starts with this:
The story the Jordanians are telling us is that terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, who masterminded the Sbarro massacre, cannot be extradited to the US, because there is no treaty. The Jordanian High Court recognizes that an extradition treaty was signed with the US in 1995, but that it is null... The problem is that this is not true. The extradition treaty between the US and Jordan may or may not have been approved by the Parliament, but it was signed by King Hussein. More importantly, in 1995 Jordan did recognize the treaty. The New York Times recounts that the same treaty the Jordanian court is now saying is null, was in fact used to allow...
Click to read what it allowed. How likely is it that those learned Jordanian judges in Amman considered what Daled Amos has noticed?

Monday, March 20, 2017

20-Mar-17: The Hashemite Kingdom's courts have spoken: The murdering FBI fugitive will not be handed over

Tamimi arriving at Amman airport after being freed in the October 2011
Shalit deal
Over in Jordan, a decision by an important court was handed down today and reported this afternoon.

It confirms what we have understood for the past week since the United States Department of Justice unsealed a sealed 2013 complaint charging Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the Sbarro pizzeria massacre and our daughter's murderer: Jordan has no intention of extraditing Tamimi to the United States.
Jordan’s Court of Cassation rejected on Monday the request made by the US authorities to extradite ex-prisoner Ahlam al-Tamimi. The decision was issued during a court hearing chaired by a panel of adjudicators namely Judge Mohamed Ibrahim, Naji al-Zu’bi, and Yasseen al-Abdalat, among others. A judicial source told Jordan News Agency, PETRA, that the Kingdom and the United States signed an extradition treaty on March 28, 1995, but was not approved by the Jordanian parliament.
The case involves Ahlam al-Tamimi, a Palestinian anti-occupation activist with Jordanian citizenship. In August 2001, she played a major role in the anti-occupation attack on a Sbarro Pizzeria in Occupied Jerusalem. Tamimi was captured by Israel, tried, convicted, and made to serve eight years in prison out of her 16 life sentence before being released in an Israel-Hamas prisoner swap deal. She then became the host of a television show in Jordan. ["Jordan Cassation Court rejects extraditing Tamimi to US", Palestinian Information Center, March 20, 2017]
How many people made this decision? Was it unanimous? Are they all judges? The answers are not so clear, though we think Jordan uses the word cassation as some European countries do to indicate the highest, most supreme court in the land (and this page on a Jordanian government website seems to support that view). The US Embassy in Amman says that the "Court of Cassation is made up of a maximum of 15 judges. Five judges generally hear each case." Did that happen here? Who knows?

The government-controlled Petra report [here] mentioned above says the Court of Cassation was considering - and opted to approve - an earlier decision of an entity it calls the Amman Court of Appeal. Which leaves us wondering: this obviously means the lower court blocked Tamimi's extradition, and the higher court came to the same view. So who brought an appeal against the Amman Court of Appeal's decision to block Tamimi's extradition? And why? Who knows.

Also not so clear is why Jordan waited for 22 years before deciding that it was not going to ratify a treaty that it seemed keen to consummate back in the days of the Bill Clinton administration.

There's little reason to spend much time or many words tearing apart some of the self-serving rhetoric of this Arab report. Characteristic of its genre, it makes no mention of the crime - multiple murders - for which Tamimi was sentenced by an Israeli military court in 2003. Or that she admitted all the charges and made a full confession. Or that she has repeatedly boasted of how the murder of Israeli Jewish children caused her joy and absolutely no regrets. For matters like these, a discerning person will not turn to a news source called "Palestinian Information Center". And it's no wonder the people who do turn to it come away sympathizing with the absurdly-described "anti-occupation activist".

When the Arabic report says she "then became the host" of a TV show, they could have said - but didn't - that the show she hosts is produced by Hamas, that it's beamed (not only by satellite by a myriad of easily-accessed streaming-video websites) to a vast Arabic-speaking audience located in every part of the world, that it explicitly aims to boost and keep up the spirits of Palestinian Arab prisoners in Israeli jails (and their families) on terrorism and similar charges, and (which few seem to know) that she stopped being its presenter with no warning in September 2016.

It appears (we can't be certain) that she learned the Americans were on her trail at about that time, and promptly adopted a slightly lower profile.

Today's decision seems to have been confidently anticipated by Tamimi herself to judge from another report published on the same Arab website on March 17, 2017:
The family of Jordanian journalist Ahlam al-Tamimi has expressed confidence that Jordan’s judiciary would reject the US request to extradite her, saying it fully trusts the justice and integrity of courts in the country. “We are fully confident that the court of cassation will issue a ruling endorsing the verdicts made by the first instance and appeal courts that rejected the [US] extradition request,” the family stated in a press release on Thursday. “The case is still in Jordan’s court of cessation and a definitive decision is yet to be made,” the family said. “The Jordanian monarch, government, and judiciary will remain the guardians of their nationals and will not allow anyone to harm them or undermine their human value,” the family said with confidence. ["Tamimi’s family: We trust the justice of Jordanian courts", Palestinian Information Center, March 17, 2017]
So it seems their trust and belief was well-placed.

A much more sober account of what has just happened - based in part on the same Jordanian source as the report we have just mentioned - is published by the venerable Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
Jordan’s highest court has upheld a lower court decision to deny a U.S. request to extradite a woman who was involved in a suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two Americans. In the case of Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, the Court of Cassation upheld the decision on Monday reportedly because an extradition agreement between the two countries signed in 1995 was never ratified by the Jordanian parliament, according to the Petra news agency, citing an unnamed judicial source... Al-Tamimi, who is in her mid-30s and also is known as Khalti and Halati, is accused of being involved in the suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizza restaurant in 2001 that left 122 injured, including four Americans. The charge had been sealed since July 2013. In 2003, she pleaded guilty in an Israeli court to multiple counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison, but was released and returned to Jordan in 2011 as part of the controversial deal to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in which Israel exchanged 1,027 prisoners. The Justice Department is seeking her extradition to stand trial. According to the U.S. affidavit, Al-Tamimi traveled with the suicide bomber, led the bomber to a crowded area and provided instructions on how to detonate the weapon. She had agreed to carry out attacks on behalf of Hamas’ military wing, the affidavit said. The FBI has placed her on its Most Wanted Terrorist List. ["Jordan’s highest court upholds decision to deny US request to extradite terrorist", JTA, March 20, 2017]
So far, there has been no coverage from the mainstream news reporting media. This ought to surprise people. It certainly bothers us.

We think there's much here that needs to be verified, checked and documented and that, just because a legal source is said to have made a decision in Jordan, it doesn't necessarily follow that this amounts to a decision similar in gravity and respectability to a decision made by a superior court in another country. Unfortunately a lack of quality, inquisitive reporting makes real answers hard to find.

In any event, as people who are deeply interested in the outcome of both the legal process and the extradition process, we will keep looking into ways to encourage an outcome more consistent with the interests of justice.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

19-Mar-17: A thought about Jordan and its treaty obligations

Ahlam Tamimi the day after she arrived back in Jordan
October 19, 2011 [See below for more background]
Stephen M. Flatow whose daughter Aliza was murdered in a Palestinian Arab Islamic Jihad human bomb attack on an Israeli bus in 1995, has an op ed on the web site of the Jewish Press today ["Jordan Protects A Killer Of Americans – Where’s The Outrage In Washington?", March 19, 2017].

A brief extract:
The Trump administration has revealed that four years ago the U.S. secretly indicted a Palestinian-Jordanian terrorist who was involved in the murders of American citizens.
So why is Jordan still refusing to hand over the killer? The case involves Ahlam al-Tamimi, a Palestinian terrorist with Jordanian citizenship. In August 2001, she played a major role in the bombing of a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed – including American citizens Malki Roth and Shoshana Greenbaum – and four Americans were among the 122 people who were injured. Tamimi was captured by Israel, tried, and convicted, but served just eight years in prison before being released in an Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange. She then became the host of a television show in Jordan, and has boasted on air about her role in the Sbarro massacre...
Sure, it’s good that Ahlam al-Tamimi is now on America’s Most Wanted list. But when will the Palestinian killers of some 142 other Americans be added to the list?
More important, when is the U.S. government finally going to put meaningful pressure on those who shelter killers of Americans? The U.S. gave Jordan $393 million in aid last year. Is that just a blank check? Or is it time, perhaps, to make some of that aid conditional on Jordan surrendering killers of Americans?
The whole article is worth a few more moments of reading, here.

We posted this brief comment, below, on the article's page:
This shabby chapter in US/Jordan relations provides a good opportunity to recall that Jordan, with a population whose majority defines itself as Palestinian Arab, is and functions as another Palestinian entity - one arm of a three-sided structure that includes the Fatah/PA regime and the Hamas entity in Gaza.  
Mr Flatow's question ought to be echoed in many of Washington's corridors of power: With hundreds of US aid dollars flowing into its coffers annually, can Jordan be granted a blank check to do what's convenient for a Saudi ruling clan (the Hashemites) that aspires to keep holding onto a desert kingdom filled with self-styled Palestinians and their blood lust?  
Or will it honor its treaty obligations and hand the savage smiling murderer of Americans - including the murder of our fifteen year old daughter Malki - to extradition and the US justice system? 
It ought to be carefully explained to Jordan that answering that question the wrong way brings on uncomfortable penalties.
The photo at the top of this page is little-known. It comes from an online photo collection, Demotix, that is no longer on line. We archived it, fortunately, when it was still up.

In case you thought the Jordanians were embarrassed by the return of a mass murdering Jordanian woman, released from prison via an act of open extortion (the Shalit deal) and destined to spend her days in the shadows and fringes of Jordanian society, think again.

The photo shows a scene from a high-profile Jordanian reception for the happy murderer a day after she was released from her Israeli prison cell (October 18, 2011) and arrived back to her home-land via a brief stop-over in Cairo. This photo was taken on October 19, 2011.

And where was this glossy event conduction? The reception to honor the barbaric savage who explicitly sought to kill as many Jewish mothers and children as possible took place inside Jordan's Family Court complex in Amman. Whether or not they understand this, the authorities in Jordan were sending a repugnant message about law, order, decency, public endorsements and above all their view of the morality of blowing Jewish children to bits.

The Jordanian authorities, despite their thin protestations to the contrary, have never had a problem giving Ahlam Tamimi appropriate public platforms from which to give expression to her celebrity-murderer status. If there's even a one of them who's embarrassed by how this impacts on their moral standing, they're continuing to do a first-rate job of hiding it.

Below is the full page Demotix image from which the photo above was extracted.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

15-Mar-17: Sbarro and justice


We had the privilege yesterday of being asked by Prof. William A. Jacobson of the excellent Legal Insurrection site to contribute a comment to his article "U.S. to seek extradition of Ahlam Tamimi, the Savage of Sbarro Pizzeria bombing". 

If you haven't read it, can we suggest you do? It gives background and a framework for understanding yesterday's events in Washington - the announcement by the Department of Justice of meaningful legal steps against the woman who for years has publicly boasted of having masterminded the massacre-by-human-bomb at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria on August 9, 2001.

That woman, Ahlam Tamimi, lives the life of a celebrity in unimpeded freedom today in Amman, Jordan. Now, finally, there is a warrant out for her arrest and a prospect that she will be brought to trial in the United States under US law.

Here's what we wrote:
My wife and I were aware from about 2005 of efforts to have the mastermind of the Sbarro pizzeria massacre released on one spurious basis or another. Our daughter Malki was murdered there at the age of 15. We wrote and spoke against the idea of convicted terrorists being released early dozens of times and in several countries. Then in 2011 the Shalit Deal took shape. Israel catastrophically gave in to Hamas’ demands and Ahlam Tamimi’s name was in the walk-free list. 
We were shattered. Even before the deal was done, we predicted what this might mean and, in the years since then, most of what we feared has come to pass. In fact, in some ways, the reality has been even worse than that
We first approached the Department of Justice via a personal meeting with a large group of its senior people in Washington some months after the Shalit Deal was done. That was in early 2012. We asked for Tamimi to be brought up on charges in the United States. Our daughter was a US citizen, and the Koby Mandell Act requires US authorities in such situations to go after the terrorists wherever they are and bring them to court to face US justice
.
Five years later, it’s apparent that a sealed complaint was already been filed with a Washington DC court within about a year of that first meeting and prior to several subsequent meetings we had with them. We got vague messages that expressed support for what we wanted but no actionable information. We were immensely frustrated. We have a better understanding of why things were done that way. 
It’s evident as of today that the government’s lawyers are seriously intent on pursuing the Tamimi prosecution, and have been making vigorous efforts in secret. The obstacle is clear: Tamimi lives in Jordan where she was born, where most of her family lives and where the vast majority of the population call themselves Palestinians. The government of Jordan does not want to see her extradited. Our understanding is they are not co-operating with DoJ’s efforts. 
This is about justice in the truest sense of the word. When it affects others and not you, justice can seem an abstract notion. But it’s not an abstraction. Civilized societies cannot function when justice is trampled. 
We know there is more work to be done.
Arnold Roth
Click to enlarge. The unedited original can be
downloaded from the FBI website
We provided some comments as well to the editors at JewishPress.com:
Our daughter Malka Chana was murdered in the summer of 2001. In the years that have followed, my wife and I have lived through a multi-stage trauma with twists that could have been scripted for the movies. One of the most soul-destroying aspects has been the process of learning what people really mean when they talk about justice. People, in this context, means ordinary people on the street where we live but it also means prime ministers and presidents, secretaries of state and ambassadors, along with politicians of every rank and orientation. 
Today, we met with people from the US Department of Justice, some of whom we have met with for discussions repeatedly in the five years since I first went to Washington to ask them to bring Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who planted the human bomb at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria, to justice. If those earlier meetings were stressful and difficult, today's was in some ways even more difficult.  
This time, facts and events were openly discussed, unlike in the past, and we learned to our relief that the US government believes Tamimi will be convicted and that justice will be served. But there's an important bridge to cross first: she has to be brought to the United States, and this is something that requires the co-operation of America's valued ally in the Middle East, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 
The Jordanians speak about justice a great deal. But from watching them over the years, there's no doubt they mean something very different, something mostly unrecognizable to us, when they invoke the concept of "justice".  
My wife Frimet and I know that if justice is going to be done to the memory of our Malki, considerable pressure will be needed. We are now busy trying to find who is with us in that quest, and who is not. 
Obviously, justice is very much on our minds right now. In fact, that has been consistently true since August 9, 2001.

15-Mar-17: Again tonight: A Gazan rocket in search of Israelis

From a documentary video about Sdot Negev [here]
A rocket from Gaza crashed into southern Israel tonight around 10:15 pm, landing in the Sdot Negev region in what Ynet calls "an empty and uninhabited field". No injuries are reported at this stage, and no property damage. This, it bears repeating, was not the intention of the attackers doing the firing.

In a compact country, Sdot Negev - though relatively remote from the population centers of Israel - is hardly devoid of people. It includes within its boundaries 16 communities made up of two kibbutzim, twelve moshavim and two communal settlements. The population of Sdot Negev is mostly made up of Israelis from the Dati Leumi ("Modern Orthodox") stream.

Despite the depressing frequency of missile attacks from the rocket-rich nearby Gaza Strip, Sdot Negev's population has grown by an estimated 55% ["Even Rockets Can't Keep Israelis Away From Towns Near the Gaza Strip", Haaretz, May 31, 2012] in the five years up to 2012. The explanation seems to be connected to high quality of life of communities in the region.

15-Mar-17: A vehicle ramming attack in Gush Etzion is thwarted... by bollards

After the attack vehicle came to a halt [Image Source]
Time to give thanks for the basic, low-tech security devices that save Israeli lives.

Around 3:45 this afternoon (Wednesday) south of Jerusalem at busy Gush Etzion Junction, a young Arab woman - really a girl - of 16 from Beit Fajjar was behind the wheel of a late model Ford Mondeo sedan with white Palestinian Authority license plates which swerved violently across the traffic divider from the opposite side of the highway and smashed at high speed into a group of civilians and soldiers standing at a public bus stop.

Fortunately for everyone concerned, this was one of the many Israeli stops where metal posts - bollards - had been installed to protect travelers waiting for a bus and to prevent what today's evident attacker had in mind. Her vehicle crashed into the posts, and the injuries to the Israelis watching in horror were limited to shock and abrasions.



The bus stops at Gush Etzion - a cluster of Israeli communities located roughly half way between the capital Jerusalem and Hebron - have been frequent targets during the past two years of (inaccurately named) lone-wolf terror attacks, many of them drive-by shootings and vehicle rammings directed at Israeli pedestrians and commuters. That's why there is a heavy military and security presence there round the clock.

In the words of a Ynet report:
The girl, from Beit Fajjar, rammed her car into a bus stop at the Gush Etzion junction, where several people were waiting, raising the soldiers' suspicions... IDF troops shot and seriously wounded [the driver] who attempted to carry out a terror attack... [Ynet, March 15, 2017]
The driver/assailant was taken to hospital by ambulance in critical condition. Early reports said she died of her injuries - whether from bullets or high-speed impact is unclear. Other Israeli reports from later in the afternoon said she was in fact alive and recovering.

Arabic-language news media name her as Fatima Jibrin Taqatqa. Beit Fajjar is located south of Bethlehem and adjacent to Gush Etzion. The head of its local municipal authority is also a Taqatqa. A quick Google scan shows numerous Taqatqas from Beit Fajjar who have been involved in violent Arab-on-Israeli activities. Here on this blog. we reported on another Taqatqa woman from Beit Fajjar who carried out a stabbing ["02-Dec-14: Yesterday's knifing attack at Gush Etzion Junction: prologue and epilogue"] and on a 19 year-old Taqatqa male who carried out a stabbing a year ago [here].

The version of events published by Ma'an News Agency follows the propaganda outlet's customary template. Headlined "Palestinian girl shot, injured at Gush Etzion junction after alleged vehicular attack", it includes the same video clip as the one embedded above, but describes the events a little differently:
Security camera footage of the events showed a car seemingly losing control at the junction, going over a median strip, and hitting posts near a bus station... Palestinian Red Crescent spokeswoman told Ma'an that the organization was unable to ascertain the health condition of the Palestinian woman, as she was taken away by Israeli ambulance services before Red Crescent ambulances reached the scene. Israeli news outlet Ynet had initially reported that the woman was killed, however the report later indicated that the woman survived the shooting, but was in a critical condition... [Ma'an]
Sixteen is below the age for holding a drivers license in Israel. A Wikipedia source says the minimum age for holding a drivers license in the Palestinian Authority is 18. Clearly this driver was not licensed to be wielding this afternoon's weapon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and extradition is sought

Malki
For those new to this blog, the person described in today's DoJ announcement murdered our fifteen year old daughter Malki. We have been urging the authorities in Washington to take steps like these since 2012. Many more steps are still ahead. We are grateful for the work of the investigators and lawyers, and hope now for effective steps by the diplomats and the politicians.

Department of Justice | Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Individual Charged in Connection With 2001 Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem That Resulted in Death of Americans

A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, also known as “Khalti” and “Halati,” a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S., resulting in death. The charge is related to the defendant’s participation in an Aug. 9, 2001, suicide bomb attack at a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two U.S. nationals. Four other U.S. nationals were among the approximately 122 others injured in the attack. Also unsealed today was a warrant for Al-Tamimi’s arrest and an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. The criminal charge had been under seal since July 15, 2013.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“Al-Tamimi is an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims. Two Americans were killed and four injured. The charges unsealed today serve as a reminder that when terrorists target Americans anywhere in the world, we will never forget – and we will continue to seek to ensure that they are held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “I want to thank the many dedicated agents and prosecutors who have worked on this investigation.”

“We have never forgotten the American and non-American victims of this awful terrorist attack,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “We will continue to remain vigilant until Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi is brought to justice.”

“Al-Tamimi is a terrorist who participated in an attack that killed United States citizens,” said Assistant Director in Charge Vale. “The bombing that she planned and assisted in carrying out on innocent people, including children, furthered the mission of a designated terrorist organization. The FBI continues to work with our international partners to combat terrorists like Al-Tamimi and hold them accountable.”

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant, Al-Tamimi was living in the West Bank in the summer of 2001, while attending school and working as a journalist for a television station. Al-Tamimi agreed that summer to carry out attacks on behalf of the military wing of Hamas (the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), a Palestinian organization designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

The affidavit states that on Aug. 9, 2001, Al-Tamimi met with the suicide bomber in Ramallah, in the West Bank, and traveled with the suicide bomber by car to Jerusalem. The suicide bomber was in possession of an explosive device concealed within a guitar. Al-Tamimi led the suicide bomber to a crowded area in downtown Jerusalem and instructed the suicide bomber to detonate the explosive device in the area, or somewhere nearby if an opportunity arose to cause more casualties. According to the affidavit, the suicide bomber entered a Sbarro pizza restaurant and detonated the explosive device, causing extensive damage, bodily injury and death. Seven of the dead were children, including one U.S. national.

The affidavit states that Al-Tamimi pleaded guilty in an Israeli court in 2003 to multiple counts of murder arising from the Sbarro suicide bomb attack and was sentenced to 16 life terms of incarceration. The defendant served only eight years of the sentence before being released on or about Oct. 28, 2011, as part of a prisoner exchange between the government of Israel and Hamas.

Al-Tamimi was returned to Jordan upon her release from incarceration. Jordan’s courts, however, have ruled that their constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals. The U.S. has worked and will continue to work with its foreign partners to obtain custody of Al-Tamimi so she can be held accountable for her role in the terrorist bombing. The FBI also announced today that Al-Tamimi has been placed on its list of Most Wanted Terrorists.

Charges contained in a criminal complaint are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The maximum penalty for a person convicted of this charge is a lifetime term of incarceration or death. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The Office of International Affairs of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division provided significant assistance. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Victims and their families can contact the Department of Justice via e-mail at USADC.SbarroCaseIsrael@USDOJ.govEmail links icon.

17-275
National Security Division (NSD)
USAO - District of Columbia
Topic: Counterterrorism
Updated March 14, 2017

14-Mar-17: Will Jordan's lust for dead Jewish children cause problems with the US?

The original caption reads: "His Majesty King Abdullah presents the Hashemite
flag to the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army during a ceremony
in Amman on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)" [Image Source]
This being a blog about terrorism and those who do it, we tend to write often about despicable people.

We profiled an especially vile killer of seven Jewish girls on a 1997 school-trip in yesterday's post ["12-Mar-17: What a Jordanian hero and his admirers tell us about the likelihood of peace"]. He's not smart, he's certainly not brave, he was said to by his family to have been insane at the time he did the sickening things that got him sent to prison in 1997, and he has never ever uttered a syllable that suggests he did wrong and regrets it.

Quite the opposite: as soon as he was set free on Sunday and "driven home in a convoy of dozens of cars whose drivers were honking their horns, a video shared on social media showed" [source], Ahmad Daqamseh launched into a series of public statements via the media most of which has gone unreported in the more civilized parts of the world.

For instance (said via Aljazeera - here's MEMRI's transcript and video) that we Israelis are “human waste” that must be eradicated. That the rest of the world vomited us up and now we need to be eliminated "by fire or by burial". And that if that's not done by the hands of the cheering crowds standing around him as he said this, then "the task will fall on the future generations to do.”

Now put yourself into the shoes of a Jordanian leader. Perhaps a Member of Parliament. Or a prominent journalist. What would you want people to know about where you stand on the matters addressed by the newly-freed thug? How embarrassed would you be that so many of your citizens are openly rejoicing at the man's release and at the crimes he committed?

Wonder no more:
  • "The Jordan Times on Monday contacted several Jordanian opinion leaders who declined comment for various reasons such as the controversial nature of the debate and to avoid escalation of disputes." [Jordan Times, March 13, 2017; the paper is owned by the Jordan Press Foundation which - says Wikipedia - has been majority government-owned since its inception in 1976]
  • Parliamentarian "Mohammad Riyati (Aqaba) wrote on his Facebook page that he visited Daqamseh to congratulate him on his freedom after serving the 20-year prison sentence, describing him as a “Muslim and Arab nations’ icon"
  • The same politician is quoted saying he will "propose a memorandum to the Lower House to deduct JD100 from the 130 deputies’ salaries to be given to Daqamseh and his family".
  • Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who lives free as a bird in Jordan desoite being the mastermind of our daughter Malki's murder, - evidently saw in Daqamseh's sickening words a kindred homicidal spirit. In an Arabic tweet yesterday, she said his hateful and disgusting words (she didn't call them that) highlight the failure of Jordan's prison system. We can only hope, as we wrote yesterday, that she soon gets to experience from the inside how successful or not the Jordanian penal system actually is. 
  • The head of a Jordan student rights group called Thabahtouna convincingly asserted that Jordanians "did not care much about the details of the act but instead that they considered it as a response to prolonged Israeli aggression against Palestinians and Arabs in general". They're OK with it, is what the leader, Fakher Daas who tweets here, is basically saying. He also says Jordanian festivities "celebrating Daqamseh’s release contained a message condemning the peace agreement with Israel" and that Israeli plans "to normalize relations with Arabs" had failed. He's fine with that too, of course.
  • "MP Khalil Attiya lauded the release of Ahmed Daqamseh from prison, calling for his protection." [Via MEMRI]
  • Another Jordanian parliamentarian, Dima Tahboub: "This is a Jordanian day of celebration. We are very happy at (Daqamseh's) release, which is overdue. Even in prison, we considered him to be free, because no one can arrest someone like the soldier Daqamseh. Today, his freedom is complete. He was free in prison, and now he is free outside. We congratulate the Jordanian people, the Daqamseh family, and ourselves. We congratulate the people who continue to uphold the principles for which Daqamseh was imprisoned."  [Via MEMRI]
  • Jordanian parliamentarian Saleh Al-Armouti: "Dawamseh's release has undoubtedly warmed the hearts of us Jordanians."  [Via MEMRI]
What must it be like to live in a country with leaders of that calibre? With such widespread popular support of your neighbours' children? [Click here for our previous posts tagged with "Jordan".]

So how is it that Jordan keeps being lauded in the State Department's annual survey of terrorism? State's June 2015 "Country Reports on Terrorism" annual survey says of the Hashemite Kingdom:
Jordan remained a key ally and a model partner in combating terrorism and extremist ideology... Jordan demonstrated regional leadership in the fight against ISIL... and participated fully on the diplomatic, political, financial, and military fronts... Jordanian prisons have a religiously based de-radicalization program that seeks to re-engage violent extremist inmates into the non-violent mainstream of their faith.
Jordan legislated its first anti-terrorism law in 2006, a year after a series of terrorist bomb blasts at three Amman hotels that killed dozens of people.
Under the new law, penalties for terrorist acts range from 10 years in prison to the death penalty, and the definition of terrorism has been expanded to include any act meant to create sedition, harm property or jeopardise international relations, or to use the Internet or media outlets to promote "terrorist" thinking. [Aljazeera, April 25, 2014]
That law has since undergone changes (summarized in this April 2014 AFP syndicated report). But what the State Department report fails to mention is how Jordan has carefully defined terror over the years so that acts of violence directed at Israelis are specifically, by definition, never to be considered terror. For instance:
Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 1999 (Ratified 28 Aug. 2003): "Jordan does not consider national armed struggle and fighting foreign occupation in the exercise of people’s right to self-determination as terrorist acts under art. 2(1)(b)" [Source]
Jordan's creativity with the definition of terror is not new and hardly a secret, but largely ignored. So too the wildly popular support that terror when directed at Israelis enjoys among Jordanians. 

The quiet celebrity lifestyle enjoyed by Ahlam Tamimi, who delivered the bomb to the Sbarro pizzeria in August 2001, can be happening only because the kingdom and its leaders are fine with that.

From within Jordan's borders and regularly venturing beyond them, Tamimi speaks as an honored guest at its universitiesprofessional guildslaw courts and other venues; records her television program "Naseem Al Ahrar" (translation: “Breezes of the Free”) week after week (or did until about November 2016 - and then she seems to have stopped appearing though the program continues) for beaming out to the Arabic-speaking world since 2012; and has the status of a genuine pan-Arab celebrity. She has boasted repeatedly of her central role in the Sbarro pizzeria massacre. She has zero remorse. The Jordanians seem to love her for it.

Should the US government be fine with that too?