Tuesday, June 04, 2019

04-Jun-19: What do Palestinian Arabs think?

The PA Cabinet, presided over by prime minister Rami Hamdallah in 2017
Knowing what the Palestinian Arabs think - not what their elites say they think or what outside reporters guess their opinions are but what they tell trusted fellow Palestinian Arabs who happen to be professional pollsters about the things they actually believe - is a subject always worth revisiting.

Most of our previous poll-centered posts have been based on the published data of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), headed by Dr. Khalil Shikaki. Click here to go to those previous posts - we started analyzing them in 2011. We do that again below.

But first, stop and note an Associated Press report issued this afternoon that drives home something every Palestinian Arab knows but that gets poorly reported for reasons obvious to anyone who pays attention to how the Palestinian Arab conflict with Israel is covered in the news. (That's not meant as a compliment to reporters or editors.)

Key quote:
“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption in the Palestinian Authority, considering that we couldn’t have access to more important information,” said Majdi Abu Zeid, a researcher at the anti-corruption watchdog group Aman. The leaks coincide with a report by Aman finding that the government has improperly filled senior government jobs without advertising them, appointed officials’ relatives to senior posts and refused to disclose budgets of the presidential office and security forces.
The AP headline almost buries what the story really stands for: "A secret pay raise by Cabinet angers Palestinian public":
  • The pay raise was awarded to themselves by the members of the shadowy cabal around Mahmoud Abbas in 2017, and made retrospective all the way back to 2014. A real killing for the fat cats and only the thinnest of camouflage to explain themselves now that  they have been caught.
  • This happened when Abbas' prime minister was Rami Hamdallah. Described in June 2013 as "a British-educated academic and political independent" as well as a moderate and pragmatic when he took office, he was said to be an interim appointee. But he filled the role for six years, being replaced in April 2019. Evidently he's possessed of the sort of pragmatism that appeals to the PA's president-for-life.
  • An angry "Palestine public" is a phenomenon worth understanding. Our sense, looking at polling data, has long been that the Palestinian Arabs are consistently a great deal angrier with their corrupt and self-serving political elites than the news industry wants to report. And for perfectly sound reasons.
Now to the most recent published data from Dr Shikaki's authoritative PSR.

It's derived from interviews conducted in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and in the region controlled by the Palestinian Authority (Judea and Samaria are our preferred terms) between March 13 and 16, 2019. The data are summarized in a report called Public Opinion Poll 71, published online on April 9, 2019. Total sample size was 1,270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error: +/-3%.

Produce vendor, Palestinian Authority [Image Source]
Some findings that got our attention:
  • Elections: The Palestinian Arabs are starved for opportunities to vote for their rulers. Little wonder that more than seventy percent of them say they want elections for both parliament and president. But life and reality have made them realistic: 46% believe no elections of either kind will take place in the foreseeable future. It helps to know that Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority on January 9, 2005 for a four-year term that doesn't look like ending in his lifetime. The last time Palestinian Arabs got to vote for a parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council, was a year after that, on January 25, 2006. But they haven't lost their interest: if they could vote for a parliament and all Palestinian factions were able to run, 70% say they would go vote. Fatah would lead with 39%; Hamas would get 32%; the other parties would share 8%; 18% can't decide right now. (Yes, this doesn't add up to 100% but the prospects of it happening are tiny anyway.) 
  • Leaders: Satisfaction with the performance of Abbas as president is 40% among residents of the "West Bank" and 24% in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In the extremely unlikely event of a two-horse race election for president, Abbas gets 51% of the vote and wins, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas gets 41%. Convicted murderer and loathsome prisoner Marwan Barghouti ["18-Apr-17: So what, in reality, is Marwan Barghouti?"] would be a stronger theoretical candidate for president than Abbas, scoring 64% to Haniyeh's 33%. 
  • Prime Minister: Without consulting Hamas, Abbas appointed Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister, replacing Hamdaleh, in mid-April 2019. Asked by the pollsters and although he's barely managed to do anything yet, about the same number of Palestinian Arabs (38%) were satisfied with the new guy as dissatisfied (40%). What do they base their opinions on? That's beyond our capabilities.
  • PA prosperity: The Palestinian Authority has been an economic basket case since its inception, and has done almost nothing since then to show it can do better. Quite the opposite. Abbas underscored this when he declared  a year ago during a meeting with families and relatives of Palestinian “martyrs” and former security prisoners (meaning terrorists): "Even if we have only a penny left, we will give it to the martyrs, the prisoners and their families,.. We view the prisoners and the martyrs as planets and stars in the skies of the Palestinian struggle, and they have priority in everything." Palestinian Arabs understand him: asked in March, 69% worried that the PA will not be able to keep paying salaries; the PA itself is by far the largest employer in the PA. More than half (54%) of all Palestinian Arabs worry that it will entirely collapse. There's no sign at all that this worries Abbas. Meanwhile, as the International Labor Organization noted here, "The unemployment rate in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has risen to the world’s highest level, at 27.4 per cent in 2017."
  • Whose fault? Asked who should be blamed for the awful state of the Gaza Strip (it's axiomatic that someone has to be), more than a third of all Palestinian Arabs (37%) voted for Israel. 25% blamed the PA and its president. The smallest vote, 21%, was expressed by those who somehow imagine it's the fault of Hamas who after all have only controlled Gaza since 2007 after winning the 2006 elections there and then violently overturning Fatah's control.
  • Corruption and fear: Two-thirds of all West Bankers say the PA cannot be criticized - meaning you don't do it if you know what's good for you. Asked "Do you think that there is corruption in PA institutions of the Palestinian Authority?" (probably sounds less clumsy in Arabic), 85% of West Bankers said yes. In Gaza, 76% said yes to the same question. Far as we can tell from the report, the Gazans were not asked about corruption in Hamas. Or if they were, the results were not published. Why? It's the Middle East.
  • Peace - and will there be a Palestinian state? A serious number, 39% which is higher than the last poll by 5 percentage points, say their preferred way of moving past today's reality is “reaching a peace agreement with Israel”. 30% say "armed struggle against the Israeli occupation” and 11% say “waging non-violent resistance”. Armed struggle gets relatively more support among those polled in the Gaza Strip (38%) compared with the West Bank (25%). 
  • Peace plans: 83%, an astronomical number, say the Trump Administration is not serious about its peace plan. 64% even oppose resuming dialogue between the Palestinian Arab leadership and the US. Opposition to such talks is stronger in the West Bank (70%) than in the Gaza Strip (54%). It's worth recalling that the Trump plan and all its details are still unannounced which obviously makes it easier to reject.

Friday, May 31, 2019

31-May-19: Al Quds Day kicks off with double-stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City

The Times of Israel caption to this photo: "Israeli security forces 
and medics remove the body of a Palestinian man who had 
stabbed two Israelis in the Old City of Jerusalem, 
on May 31, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
At least two people were injured, one seriously, in stabbing attacks in Jerusalem’s Old City this morning. Times of Israel reports that the suspected terrorist was shot by police officers at the scene. His condition is not currently known (it's 7:20 am here).

But according to the rather laconic Haaretz version, "Israeli police said officers at the scene apprehended the suspect." (It appears now, some hours later, that Haaretz understated the impact on the terrorist. See below.)
Medics were treating one victim in serious condition, an approximately 50-year-old man, near the Old City’s Damascus Gate, which has seen a number of stabbing attacks in recent years. The Magen David Adom ambulance service said a second man was also lightly wounded near the Hurva Synagogue... [Times of Israel]
From Israel National News:
A man was very seriously wounded in a stabbing attack on Friday morning in an area in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem. The man was stabbed in his upper body and Magen David Adom paramedics are making efforts to save his life. A short time later, reports were received about an 18-year-old who was lightly wounded in a stabbing attack in the vicinity of the Hurva Synagogue. An initial investigation into the attack revealed that a terrorist arrived at the Damascus Gate, stabbed a man, and then stabbed another man in the Old City. The attacker was neutralized by police forces... Magen David Adom reported that at 6:31 a.m., a report was received of two men who were stabbed, one near Damscus Gate and the other near the Hurva Synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Post (7:30 am) also believes the two attacks are the work of one knifer:
Israel Police spokesman Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post that a "terrorist stabbed one person at Damascus Gate, critically injuring him, and made his way into the Old City and stabbed a second person inside injuring him moderately."
We're not yet seeing reports stating the obvious - that it's Al Quds Day:
an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan that was initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and oppose Zionism and Israel... [and] also held in several other countries, mainly in the Arab and Muslim world, with protests against Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem.Rallies are held in various cities by both Muslim and non-Muslim communities around the world.
Urged on by Iran [here], there are large-scale Al Quds Day events scheduled for this weekend in Sydney and Melbourne, in London and other locations.

UPDATE May 31, 2019 at 10:00 am: From Times of Israel:
“Around 6:20 a.m., the assailant entered through the Damascus Gate. He stabbed a man inside and began running from the scene. Along the way, he saw [a 16-year-old boy] and stabbed him as well,” police said. The suspected terrorist, a 19-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank, was shot dead by police officers at the scene, a police spokesperson said.
A quick scan of Arabic social media, mainly Twitter, shows the attacker is now called "martyr" which strongly suggests the financial future of another Palestinian Arab family has gotten a lot stronger thanks to Al Quds Day.

UPDATE May 31, 2019 at 11:00 am:  No names announced yet but it's reported that the first of the two stabbing victims this morning was a 16-year-old boy, attacked as he made his way from Shacharit morning prayers at a synagogue in the Old City back to his yeshiva.
From Israel National News
“On his way back from the Hurva synagogue to the yeshiva, someone jumped him from one of the courtyards,” the victim’s father told Reshet Bet... The victim had been learning overnight at his yeshiva [a tradition on Thursday nights], then went to the Hurva synagogue for morning prayers. “At first he didn’t realize that he had been stabbed by a knife,” his father continued, “he thought he had been punched in the back. His brother was with him, and they started to run towards the Hurva synagogue, and there they called for help.”
During the terror attack another victim, estimated to be about 50 years of age, was also stabbed, leaving him in critical condition. He was evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center. He has been admitted to the hospital’s intensive care ward, and is unconscious and on assisted breathing.
Authorities say the terrorist entered the Old City at around 6:20 a.m. via Damascus Gate, stabbed his first victim on a side street, then fled the scene. As he ran, the terrorist spotted his second victim, stabbing him before being shot to death by Israeli police officers... The terrorist has been identified as a 19-year-old Palestinian Authority resident.
There's no coverage at this point on the scurrilous Maan News Service English-language site. But on its Arabic site, under a headline that calls him "martyr", it says
"Israeli occupation forces shot dead a Palestinian in the West Bank town of Jerusalem... The Israeli occupation forces closed all the doors of the Old City and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and prevented thousands of worshipers from reaching the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
No mention of today being Al Quds Day.

UPDATE May 31, 2019 at 2:30 pm: We have the names of the stabbing victims. One is 16-year-old Yisrael Meir Nachumberg, in moderate condition at the Hadassah Hospital on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus.. The other is Gavriel Lavi, 50, who underwent emergency surgery at Shaarei Zedek Medical Center this morning and is now hospitalized in SZMC's intensive care unit. Israel National News quotes one of the doctors there saying "He arrived at the trauma unit with stab wounds all over his body - scalp, neck, back, chest and legs."

Video of the attack and its aftermath is posted on YouTube and embedded below.



UPDATE June 2, 2019 at 4:00 pm: Times of Israel says Gabriel Lavi who was seriously injured in Friday's stabbing attack is now breathing without the help of a respirator though he remains in intensive care at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. May he continue to a complete recovery. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

30-May-19: Paris, Amman, Washington: Extradition and what it can reveal about governments and terror

The landmark Jewish restaurant in Paris whose patrons were
targeted in 1982 by Palestinian Arab jihadists
and their machine guns and hand grenades.
In this post, we explain why an important court decision handed down in Jordan this week by its highest court throws a sharply negative light on Jordan's controversial 2017 claim that the kingdom's 1995 Extradition Treaty with the US in invalid and non-binding.

That earlier ruling, concerning Ahlam Tamimi, now looks contrived and unconvincing. And though the United States isn't saying much about it, we think people ought to know.

Terror and the Hashemite Kingdom

Jordan's creativity with the definition of terror is not new and hardly a secret.

But in polite circles, especially circles which view King Abdullah II as a valuable friend of the West and a strategic ally in the battle against "the terrorists", discussion of the matter is largely confined to whispers.

That's an insight we keep re-acquiring as we pursue Ahlam Tamimi, the confessed Jordanian killer of our daughter [24-Mar-17: Our daughter's smiling killer: "Shocked" that US "decided to go after her for no obvious reason"]. The Hashemite Kingdom's role in that process, and few know this as well as we do, has been obstructive, deceptive and dangerous.

Ahlam Tamimi, now a fugitive from US justice with her own "Most Wanted" poster (in English and Arabic versions), is a Jordanian woman of 39 who faces serious US Federal terrorism-related charges that were announced in Washington on March 14, 2017.

Ahlam Tamimi the fugitive

The brief version: At the age of 21 and as Hamas' first female terrorist, Tamimi masterminded the bombing of the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria massacre and the many Jewish children inside. (She has proudly admitted for the record that it was Jewish children she sought to kill. And why.) She carefully chose the site, scouted out the access path, brought the bomb (a human bomb - a young religious fanatic also in the service of Hamas) and then fled back to Ramallah moments before the explosion where she read the evening TV news bulletin for Istiqlal TV.

One of her many innocent victims, as regular visitors to this blog know, was our daughter Malki, 15. She was an American citizen.

In October 2011, Tamimi was released prematurely to our horror from a prison sentence of 16-life-terms in Israel in the Shalit Deal. Israel sent her off to Jordan where she came from ["19-Oct-11: Haaretz: Shalit prisoner swap marks 'colossal failure' for mother of Israeli bombing victim"]. She quickly set about developing an enhanced career in terror and terror-incitement under Jordanian protection.

Some weeks later, in early 2012, we went to Washington and asked the US Department of Justice to prosecute Tamimi. Under a Federal law, the US can go after terrorists who kill US citizens on foreign soil. Its jurisdiction is world-wide.

And indeed, this eventually happened. The background is here: "14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?"

The details of how terrorism charges were finally announced against Tamimi are not well known. For instance, the fact that the judge who signed off on the charges actually did so in 2014, three years earlier. There's a reason for those lost three years; not such a good reason.

And this:
All three of the DOJ officials quoted in the 2017 announcement have moved on to other positions during these past two years. We wrote a letter last week [i.e. in March 2019], addressed to them and to the three officials who filled their places in the DOJ. Among other things, we asked them whether the DOJ is going to address certain serious problems that we described for them. At this stage, we do not plan to publish the letter; we continue to hope that we will get a meaningful DOJ response that deals with the important issues we raised. However we do want people to know (which is why we are posting this now to our blog) that we sent that letter and that it respectfully requests the DOJ to take specific steps... [Our March 14, 2019 post]
It's distressing to report that the Justice Department has still not responded to our letter. But our concern here and now is with other aspects of the Tamimi case.

The 1982 Paris killings

Let's turn now to a murderous Palestinian Arab terror attack on one of France's best-known Jewish landmarks, a Paris restaurant called Chez Jo GoldenbergIn a 2016 post (13-Feb-16: Three decades after a terror attack on a Paris restaurant, some things remain just as they were"), we made some pungent observations about Jordan and the poorly understood, even surprising, way it approaches terrorism in general and ultra-violent antisemitic attacks in particular.

In November 2018, Mr and Mrs Tamimi, unrepentant murderers both,
were paid generous tribute on Jordan's most-watched TV channel.
Not one word about the Israelis they killed.
We wrote this:
We wish there was much wider awareness of how Jordan has provided a friendly environment since 2011 for the woman who masterminded the murder of our daughter, allowing her to operate freely from within Jordan's borders; to speak as an honored guest at its universitiesprofessional guildslaw courts and other venues; to record her television program "Naseem Al Ahrar" (translation: “Breezes of the Free”) week after week for beaming out to the Arabic-speaking world throughout the past 4 years; and to emerge as a genuine pan-Arab celebrity.
In a Jordanian courthouse

So now to the events of this week. Ben Cohen's fine report today ["Jordanian Refusal to Extradite Paris Kosher Restaurant Killer to France Renews Concern Over Amman’s Terrorism Policy"] on The Algemeiner website sets the stage:
The Kingdom of Jordan’s highest court has rejected a French appeal for the extradition of a suspect in a deadly attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris more than 30 years ago — raising further concerns that the stalwart ally of the West continues to offer safe haven to terrorists wanted by the courts of other countries, including the United States.
On Tuesday, Jordan’s Court of Cassation ruled against the extradition of 57-year-old Nizar Tawfiq Mussa Hamada, one of the alleged participants in the Aug. 9, 1982 attack at Chez Jo Goldenberg, a kosher restaurant in the traditionally Jewish Marais district of Paris.
After exploding a grenade inside the packed restaurant during its lunchtime service, two terrorists then opened fire on the diners with machine guns. Six people died and 22 more were wounded in the assault.
The atrocity was carried out by the Abu Nidal Organization — a radical Palestinian terrorist group that was active during the 1970s and 1980s, when it carried out attacks in over 20 countries. Named after the nom de guerre of its founder, Sabri al-Banna, the Abu Nidal group was backed at different times by the Iraqi, Syrian and Libyan regimes.
Speaking after Tuesday’s decision in favor of his client, Hamada’s lawyer, Mazan al-Tawil, praised the Jordanian judges for “categorically refusing” the French extradition request. Al-Tawil referred to the court’s decision to reject an earlier extradition request for Hamada in Feb. 2016 for the same reason — that a period of more than 30 years had elapsed since the atrocity, exceeding Jordan’s “limitation period” for extradition.
Al-Tawil’s co-conspirators in the attack on the restaurant have similarly escaped French justice because of the intervention of Jordanian courts.
The suspects in the Chez Jo Goldenberg attack were not formally identified until 2014, when two anonymous informants associated with Abu Nidal’s group supplied the French authorities with the missing information.
The following year, France’s top magistrate tasked with combating terrorism, Marc Trévidic, issued arrest warrants for several suspects, including Hamada and fellow Jordanian citizen Souhair Mouhamed Hassan Khalid al-Abassi — aka Amjad Atta — reputedly the mastermind behind the attack.
A French request to the Jordanian courts for al-Abassi’s extradition was similarly rejected in Oct. 2015 — just three months after the Hashemite Kingdom signed an extradition treaty with the French government.
But France is not the only country to have been turned down by Jordan after submitting an extradition request in connection with terrorism... [The Algemeiner today]
The Tamimi extradition

Ben Cohen is of course right. That very same Jordanian tribunal, the Court of Cassation in Amman (the equivalent of a Supreme Court), handed down a problematic ruling in an unrelated extradition case two years ago. That 2017 case is about Mrs Tamimi. Its larger importance is that it considers the legality of an extradition treaty between Jordan and the United States that the US considers - without any doubt - in effect and binding.

The US had made a formal request years earlier (we think in 2014 but can't be sure) for Jordan to hand Tamimi over to them for bringing her to the US as required in their treaty. Jordan had persisted for the following three years in its refusal.

The Jordanian court was asked, in effect, to rule on whether Jordan could, should or had to extradite Tamimi to face US terror charges.

It decided within the same week as the announcement of Federal charges against Tamimi, in fact just days later. In a somewhat bizarre ruling it first confirmed what everyone already knew, that there is indeed an extradition treaty with the US and has been since 1995. The Clinton Administration had signed it with King Hussein's government when it wanted to get its hands - and did get its hands - on Eyad Ismoil, one of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing plotters.

But, said the court, embarking on a Save Tamimi strategy, a constitutional flaw in the process meant that the treaty with the US could not be used to send the confessed killer to a Washington courthouse. Moreover, the treaty was not only invalid now. It had been invalid since the day it was signed.

But Jordan happily extradited other Jordanian terrorists after 1995, The most recent was sentenced in the US just last year. None of them, as it happens, targeted Jews. (Could that be the missing key?)

The flaw, said the court, was in the fact that the treaty needed to get the approval of Jordan's rubber-stamp parliament. But it somehow never did. And it continues not to get it. Never getting it meant, the court implies, that Jordan's constitution prohibits the treaty from going into effect. And so Ahlam Tamimi could not be handed over to the US for prosecution. Case closed.

The US government reward

In its March 14, 2017 announcement, the DOJ did more than just unveil charges against Tamimi. It also added her to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list where she still is todayA $5 Million reward for "information that leads to [her] arrest or conviction" was announced nine months later by the Rewards for Justice Unit (RFJ) of the Department of State.

Never in hiding: The Tamimis in their Amman apartment
in March 2017 where Associated Press reporters and
video people visited them [link including video]
That reward, which we pressed for is a curious thing. Why?

Because Tamimi has never been in hiding. She lives free-as-a-bird in Jordan today in a pleasant, well-equipped apartment with her family in Amman. Her husband, who is her cousin and also a convicted murderer was also released in the Shalit Deal. News crews, among them Associated Press visit regularly and interview her there.

The DOJ and the State Department's RFJ clearly know this.

Jordan's legal stance

Consider now what Jordan's Court of Cassation did in the Jo Goldenberg Massacre decision on Tuesday. It said (our words, not theirs):
We would simply love to do the right thing and extradite these evil shooters back to Paris. But - such rotten luck - the 2015 France/Jordan extradition treaty doesn't help since the statute of limitations has expired. Yes, it's too late. Our judicial hands are tied.
To which a pair of grieving parents in far-away Jerusalem say: So which one is it, Your Honors?

In your French decision, you treated that 2015 extradition treaty as legal and binding but you discovered an unrelated problem that meant the alleged perpetrator of the Paris massacre didn't have to be handed over to the French prosecutors. But in your American decision, you found the US treaty was invalid; some additional signature was needed, you said, and 22 years later Jordan's rulers still hadn't found the pen (except when it was needed for that French treaty). So Tamimi is saved the trouble of being prosecuted in Washington.

What a farce.

Did the 2015 France/Jordan extradition treaty get approved by the Jordanian rubber stamps that, according to the 2017 Tamimi decision, had to approve it? Apparently yes. Jordan's most senior judges aren't claiming the agreement with France is tainted constitutionally (as the 1995 US/Jordan one is, they say). If the French treaty was flawed, they would have said it. And they didn't.

We say: So then let that same Jordanian rubber stamp come now, this afternoon, right this hour, and at the king's command fix Jordan's allegedly invalid US Extradition Treaty. Isn't that how rubber stamps are supposed to work?

Or take the opposite view. Let's say the French treaty was never rubber stamped by Jordan's parliament. Yet the judges, who are silent on this point, treat it as being perfectly effective. No constitutional flaw. No need for it to be rubber stamped because, well, you know. But, oops, sadly there's this statute of limitations.

Taken together, the two Jordanian Court of Cassation decisions, one from 2017, one from this month, underscore the very high likelihood that the Jordan/US Treaty is in reality perfectly valid. That is precisely what the US says though it has not yet said it in public for reasons that bother us a great deal. (We have it in writing from multiple US government sources).

Without being excessively blunt on this, let's just say there's much room to be deeply cynical about Jordan's claims and its highest court's decision to refuse the US extradition request in the specific case of Tamimi. (Jordan's government itself, as distinct from its Court of Cassation, has never said a word in public about their refusal to extradite Tamimi.)

"Stop bothering Jordan"

Respected observers have noted that the kingdom of Jordan is going through a rocky period. There seems to be a sense that its dear friends in the West need to cut it some slack, not press too hard and do what needs to be done so its widely admired anti-terrorism monarch, King Abdullah II, can get on with the job of fixing the economy and building a stable, prosperous Western-facing state.

The man speaking is the Palestinian Arab father of the human bomb who
was brought to the Sbarro site by Ahlam Tamimi. (The Middle East bureau
chief of Australia's national broadcaster, ABC
, at the time of the Sbarro 
massacre tried to persuade us to be interviewed with because he's so opposed
to violence and so pro-peace.) She fled to the safety of Ramallah
after instructing him to explode a few minutes later. Which he did.
We don't agree.

Jordan, entirely unreported by the news industry, has turned the Sbarro savage, Tamimi, into a pan-Arab hero from her safe, government-guaranteed perch in Amman, Jordan's capital.

Since 2011 via TV, social media and Internet-streamed video all over the Arabic speaking world and even into Israel's security prisons, she has become an inspiration to the powerful and very large forces inside the kingdom (and far beyond it) who want more bloodshed and conflict, more killing of Israelis and Jews, more "dignity" for the 80+ percent of Jordanians who call themselves Palestinians.

Tamimi no longer takes part in the weekly terror-promoting TV program we mentioned earlier. (Leaving it was not her choice - another story.) But she continues to play a key role in Jordan's fascination with Arab-on-Israeli terror. For a good example, see "24-Nov-18: How Jordan's mainstream media showcase a couple of role-model jihadist murderers".

Justice

The thwarted Jo Goldenberg extradition underscores what we already learned as we have tried (and continue to try) to bring our child's killer to justice since 2012:
You can have healthy bilateral relations based on justice, openness and honesty. Or you can pander to the powerful pro-terror forces operating inside Jordan. No one and certainly not a government that aligns itself strategically with the US can expect to have both.
It's a message we still hope (and fully expect) to hear articulated by officials of the US government.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

02-May-19: Multiple events coming up so the Gazans crank up their rockets

10 am The silence of siren time - Yom Hashoah [Image Source]
The Hamas-run Gaza Strip, known for possessing one of the world's largest rocket arsenals, has been making its lethal presence felt again today as the general climate in our neighourhood for trouble and violence edges upwards.

It's Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) but the pragmatic concerns of most Israelis aren't limited (if they ever were) to looking back at the blood-soaked recent history of our people. There are daily murderous attacks on Jews by powerful, absurdly-well-armed enemies right here and now and even if most of the media attention fails to deal with the threats on our borders, Israelis and the security establishment must.

Haaretz says two rockets were fired by Gaza-based terrorist forces into the southern region of Israel early this morning (Thursday). A barrage of explosive-laden balloons was launched in the same general direction during Wednesday:
Alarms sounded in Israeli communities along the Gaza border, including Sha'ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev Regional Councils, before the rocket fire, but there were no reports of damage and no one was hurt. Palestinian media reported that a Hamas training facility in Gaza was target by the Israeli air force. It was heavily damaged, reports say, but no casualties were reported.
According to Aljazeera, those Israel-bound rockets have a known origin:
Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, reportedly launched two rockets towards Israel on Thursday morning in response to Israeli rocket fire.
Threats were issued ahead of the rockets:
Palestinian groups in Gaza have threatened over the past week to resume certain activities at the border that were recently frozen, including the use of incendiary balloons. Sources in the committee that organizes weekly protests at the border said this week that Israeli failure to implement recently agreed-upon understandings is leading to anger in Gaza and could lead to violent escalation [Haaretz]
The balloons caused serious damage and loss:
Fire and rescue services were called [Wednesday] to put out two fires near Israeli border communities, which authorities say were caused by firebombs from Gaza [Haaretz]
And on Monday, as we tweeted, another Gazan rocket landed in Israeli waters. Haaretz says
The Israeli army said the rocket launched by Islamic Jihad on Monday was aimed at hitting one of Israeli communities along the border. It named Islamic Jihad officials directly, publishing their photos, and laid responsibility for the attack on the organization, an unusual move as it normally holds Hamas accountable for aggression coming out of the Strip.
Aljazeera adds that on Tuesday
Israel reduced Gaza's fishing limit from 15 nautical miles (27.8km) to six nautical miles (11.1km) after it alleged a rocket was fired from the territory by Islamic Jihad - an allegation the Palestinian group denied. Rights group call Israel's ever-changing limit of Gaza's fishing zone as "illegal collective punishment".
PIJ forces on Israel's Gaza border [Image Source]
@MargieinTelAviv points out that you only see them in uniforms on
videos and handouts. When it comes to actual fighting they
wear civilian clothes and refuse to admit that they are Hamas/PIJ
terrorists so that Hamas can claim civilian deaths.
But their FBook pomp betrays them
About that rocket, Anna Aronheim, writing in the Jerusalem Post, quotes the IDF Spokesperson Brig-Gen Ronen Manelis, saying Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) launched it from the al-Attra neighborhood of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza Strip. And naming names:
“It was intentionally fired by the group,” Manelis said, adding that the PIJ operative who gave the order for the launch is Baha’a Abu al-Ata, the PIJ commander of the northern Strip. According to Manelis, al-Ata received his orders directly from the group’s leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah in Damascus. PIJ, the military said, is trying to carry out low-level attacks and maintain a low profile so that Hamas doesn’t figure out that they are trying to undermine ceasefire efforts between the ruling group in the coastal enclave and Israel.
“There are dozens of countries around the world which are trying to improve the humanitarian situation in the Strip but and at the same time there is one man inside Gaza and one man outside the Strip which is trying to torpedo that,” he said... On a call with reporters, Manelis noted that the rocket launch came shortly before a potentially tense month, with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Nakba Day, Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day, and the one year anniversary of the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem... Manelis also noted that the IDF is also preparing for violence ahead of Eurovision, which will take place in Tel Aviv in May with thousands of tourists expected to visit. Due to a fear of escalation in the south over the coming weeks, Israel’s military deployed several Iron Dome missile defense batteries across the country. ["IDF reduces Gaza fishing zone after rocket fromm PIJ", Jerusalem Post, April 30, 2019]
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, substantially backed by Iran and considered its proxy force in the area, is the second-largest of the terrorist groups active in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip but takes care to act independently of it. Ynet says today that its leadership was "summoned" by Egyptian intelligence officials to Cairo today
in an effort to prevent a further escalation of violence between Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad forces in Gaza.
While they were doing that this morning, Israelis were standing still for two minutes of silence, remembering lives lost to a fathomless hatred that the PIJ and Hamas people can easily identify with.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

20-Apr-19: At Tapuah Junction, a stabbing attacker is thwarted

Here in Israel, we have just completed the first day of the week-long Pesach festival. It was also the Sabbath. But Arab-on-Israeli terrorism doesn't take holidays.

Haaretz reported this morning on a thwarted attack:
Israeli security forces shot and wounded a Palestinian man on Saturday attempting to carry out a stabbing attack in the West Bank, Border Police said, reporting no further wounded in the incident.
A 20-year-old resident of Saniriya, a village in the northern West Bank, approached a Border Police outpost at the Tapuah Junction and "behaved suspiciously," according to the Israel Police spokesperson.
According to the statement, policemen began pursuing the suspect on foot. Another policeman driving nearby spotted the chase and blocked the suspect with his car.
The suspect then pulled out a knife and tried opening the car door in an attempt to stab the policeman inside, who then shot and wounded him, said the statement.
It was initially reported the suspect had died at the scene. However, he was evacuated in critical condition by the Israeli army for medical attention.
Saniriya is an Arab village of roughly 3,000 people located in Samaria. Times of Israel says the attacker was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for emergency treatment. Beilinson is a major Israeli medical facility, part of the world-renowned Rabin Medical Center.

The European-funded Maan News Agency reporting from Bethlehem doesn't actually dispute any of what Haaretz reports. Instead it adopts its traditional disingenuous tone (in the English-language version - there's no Arabic report at this hour) according to which Israeli forces injured "a Palestinian who was passing by the checkpoint... claiming that he attempted to carry out a stabbing attack against Israeli soldiers deployed at the Zaatara checkpoint south of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus".

So: just another innocent Palestinian Arab passer-by mugged by Israeli reality. Here's a photo of the knife he was clutching.

The checkpoint that Ma'an's editors call Zaatara is better known as Tapuah Junction, site of many previous Arab-on-Israeli attacks (click to view some of our previous Tapuah posts).

And Nablus, which Ma'an calls "Israeli-occupied", is in reality controlled by the Abbas/Fatah Palestinian Authority, having been "handed over to the Palestinian National Authority on December 12, 1995, as a result of the Oslo Accords Interim Agreement" [Wikipedia].

A poster on social media [Twitter] calls the "passer-by" Omar Awni Younes (the Younes clan are a large part of the Saniriya population) and quotes a post uploaded by him this morning: "this is a jihad, victory or martyrdom".

Thursday, April 11, 2019

11-Apr-19: Two more thwarted terror attacks at heavily-traveled security checkpoint outside Jerusalem

Image Source: Video of the young female attacker
recorded from inside the Arab bus [Source]
Too many observers of what goes on here in Israel talk about terrorism being behind us, finished, defeated. 

It's certainly not so.
A Palestinian woman tried to stab security forces while they were checking a bus passing through the A'Zaim checkpoint next to Jerusalem on Wednesday. Police fired into the air and police detectives who happened to be in the area were able to incapacitate the woman and take away the knife. No injuries were reported. The woman is being interrogated.
On Tuesday, at the same checkpoint, multiple guns and magazines and hundreds of bullets were found in the car of a Palestinian family. The driver's wife, young daughter and days-old son were in the car when it was stopped. [Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2019]
The "Palestinian woman" in yesterday's mid-afternoon attack looks to us more like a girl than an adult woman. Israel National News says she was a resident of Tulkarm.

The video captured from inside the Arab bus out of which she emerged during what we think was a routine security check leaves no doubt that she was armed with and was brandishing a knife. In the specific circumstances, it's clear she was more interested in offense than defence.

A-Zaim (sometimes written Az-Za'ayyem and Al-Zaim; א-זעיים in Hebrew; الزعيم in Arabic) is a busy security checkpoint on one of the roads connecting Maale Adumim with Israel's capital.

A 16 year-old Arab female was intercepted just three months ago ["30-Jan-19: Pal Arab would-be stabber, a 16 year old girl, is stopped before executing an attack near Jerusalem"] at the very same location on Jerusalem's eastern edge. The outcome was far more serious then:
A Palestinian teenage girl was shot dead as she tried to stab an Israeli security officer at a checkpoint outside Jerusalem on Wednesday, police said. According to police, the assailant attacked one of the guards at the A’Zaim crossing east of the capital, in the central West Bank. The Palestinian girl was identified as Samah Mubarak, 16, from the nearby village of al-Ram, the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency reported... Israeli security officials have said that many attacks by Palestinians, especially women, are driven by personal and domestic issues, more than by ideological considerations. In some cases, Israeli officials have said Palestinians appeared to have carried out attacks or attempted to do so in order to be shot dead by Israeli security forces, as a form of “suicide by cop.” [Times of Israel, January XX, 2019]
Again at A-Zaim, two days ago:
...multiple guns and magazines and hundreds of bullets were found in the car of a Palestinian family. The driver's wife, young daughter and days-old son were in the car when it was stopped. [Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2019]
No one seems to be noting in the news reports (there are very few of them) how appalling it is that a man smuggling a serious weapons cache would use his family, including a new-born infant, as human shields.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

02-Apr-19: Setting facts, ethics, context aside, Al Jazeera salutes a couple of murderers

Mr and Mrs Tamimi at home in Jordan's capital Amman,
in a video segment embedded in the Al Jazeera homage
In Arabic only (so far), Aljazeera published a paean this past week to a pair of convicted and unrepentant terrorists sentenced by Israel to life-term prison sentences for killing many Israelis.

The two are not merely out of prison but, from what we can tell, live a highly public and comfortable life replete with exposure, celebrity, adulation and valuable political connections that seem to help smooth their way.

Al Jazeera Media Network whose chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani served as a minister in Qatar's government in the eighties and nineties and who is a member of the ruling family of Qatar, the House of Thani, is a formidable communications conglomerate owned by the government of Qatar. It has some 80 bureaux and more than 100,000 employees distributed around the world.

This particular piece was published on the AlJazeera.net site last Thursday and so far has appeared only in Arabic. While the group publishes in multiple languages including English, Turkish, Indonesian, Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, the AlJazeera.net platform is specifically dedicated to Arabic speakers.

Because we think it shines some much-needed light on how Arab-on-Israeli terror is viewed in much of the Arabic-speaking world, we arranged a professional translation. The text appears below. 

A word for those uncomfortable with violence and bloodshed: Rest assured. Though this is all about a couple of unrepentant convicted felons, people who murdered other people and have never expressed regret for their deeds, and while one might expect some unpleasant discussion about killings and deaths - actually there isn't that much. Hardly any.

In fact, what violence there is happens to be about Israelis threatening (they say) and killing other people (they allege). We'll come back to that counter-intuitive aspect at the end.
Political News
Nizar and Ahlam: A couple pursued by “chains” despite their release from occupation imprisonmentMarch 28, 2019 | Aljazeera.net | From Mahmoud Al-Shar’aan in Amman 
They became engaged in the prisons of Israeli occupation. They were released in the prisoner exchange deal of 2011 known as the “Wafaa’ Al-Ahrar deal” between the Palestinian Resistance Movement (HAMAS) and the occupation. [TOW: In the West, it's better known as the Gilad Shalit Deal]  
Their relationship led to marriage and the establishment of a Palestinian house of “resistance” in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
They are the freed prisoners Nizar Al-Tamimi (45) and his wife Ahlam Al-Tamimi (38) who was born in Jordan. 
The bond of marriage was not the only thing they shared. They were also brought together by the defence of Palestine and the sacrifice they gave towards the struggle through the years they spent in prison.
Nizar, who belongs to the Palestinian Liberation Movement (Fatah) was sentenced to life in prison after he participated in the killing of an Israeli citizen in the nineties of which he served 20 years before he was released. 
Ahlam on the other hand was the first woman to have joined the Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. She was sentenced to 16 life sentences after she participated in a martyrdom operation against the occupation of Jerusalem in 2001, of which she served 10 years before she was released.
A new life
Their many years spent in prison have not killed the normal life of these freed prisoners as they both are pursuing their education, each in his own field. 
The husband is preparing for his Masters thesis [sic] in political science with the title “The law of Jewish nationalism and its effect on the reality and future of the Palestinian cause”, while the wife is preparing to study towards her Masters thesis [sic] in Journalism and Media under the title “A theoretical etymology of the concept of prisoner media”.
Nizar tells Aljazeera.net that freedom was like a new birth for them both after having spent many tough years in jail. “We were able to come out of prison strong, and more importantly we are still bearers of the message of truth when it comes to our just cause, and we have begun a new life”.
But the lives of the couple were thrown into disarray after they received messages threatening to pursue them and to lay cases against them in the United States.
The last case of these threats came in the words of the American peace process delegate to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, who wrote on his official Twitter account that “Americans must know that Ahlam Al-Tamimi who is a Hamas terrorist convicted of killing 15 people, seven of whom were children killed in cold blood, is living free today”.
Greenblatt announced a reward of the equivalent of 5 million dollars to anyone who can provide information on Ahlam Al-Tamimi and the Hamas leader, Saleh Al Aruri.
Continuous threats
Greenblatt’s threats were not new. They are a part of a long chain of threats received by Ahlam and her husband. It was revealed to Aljazeera.net that Jewish organizations paid to lay cases against them in American courts of law.
Ahlam identifies herself as a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin who is a freedom fighter for a just cause. “I refuse to allow my cause and the cause of my nation to be labelled as terrorism or that the door be opened to some representatives trying to make political gains to pass whatever they want under the cover of their mission”.
The freed prisoner regards her being in Jordan to be a point of strength as there is no agreement between Amman and Washington that states that wanted people need to be handed over. In addition, the Jordanian judicial authorities refused a previous American demand for her to be handed over.
She is asking the Kingdom to protect her from American hegemony and the continuing threats against her, and to solve her crisis with the United States “politically”.
Ahlam does not deny her fears of the financial reward offered by Greenblatt, because the involvement of money in this case might facilitate passing information on her or that the matter might even reach assassination, as she says.
At the same time, her husband is of the view that once a prisoner is released from prison, he remains a target of Israel, and he can therefore never really feel total calm as other prisoners have been killed after they were released from prison, as he says.
A house of resistance
Between four walls, the couple spend time telling stories and reliving the memories of prison life, of Palestine and of comrades in struggle. The best years of their lives were taken from them by Israeli courts and prison bars. This however did not prevent them from trying to live normally and defend their rights in a clear message that is not open for discussion, the summary of which says that there is no conceding the entirety of Palestine.
Nizar, the son of Fatah, and Ahlam, the daughter of Hamas, are the embodiment of the reality of a unified Palestinian people, in the wake of division which they described as an exception to the rule. They have spent their lives together with many ideas, some of which were conflicting, but they both always agree in the end that there is no way to liberate Palestine except through resistance and that it is the only way to achieve it.
Source: Aljazeera (Arabic) online here. In case it somehow disappears, we arranged for it to be  archived here.

A few observations.
  • The only violence mentioned in this brazen homage is violence they claim is directed at - not by - the Tamimis, a pair of unrepentant murderers. As journalism goes, this is exceedingly shabby. Are there ethical standards in the Al Jazeera media empire? What are they?
  • Seriously, is it true as they claim here that "there is no agreement between Amman and Washington that states that wanted people need to be handed over"? No, not really. We explained that here: "14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?" Bottom line: Jordan and the US signed an extradition treaty 24 years ago; the US absolutely considers it still valid and in full effect and Jordan has never complained to its American treaty partners that there is a problem with it. In fact, Jordan has cheerfully handed over Jordanian felons to the US at the request of the US. But it refuses to hand over Ahlam Tamimi. It justifies this on the contentious footing that there is now a Jordanian constitutional law issue to consider. They don't say, but we think they should, that Tamimi is different from the others already extradited because she killed Israelis. Note that none of this seems to be known to the Al Jazeera editors and their reporter. Or perhaps they simply have no interest in conveying what they know to their news consumers. So it's either shameful pretense or it's professional incompetence.
  • Did Ahlam Tamimi hurt anyone? Hard to know. All that the Al Jazeera journalist and his editors want their Arabic-language readers to know is that this Jordanian woman was locked away for a tremendously long prison term because "she participated in a martyrdom operation against the occupation of Jerusalem". Is it even worth mentioning that 16 people were murdered in that "operation"? That Tamimi picked the spot because it attracted so many children and brought the bomb to it at the busiest time of the day? That this savage boasts openly and happily about it in front of cameras and live audiences? That the panel of judges who sentenced her recommended that Israel never consider letting her out under any circumstances or deals? And that they were ignored when the Shalit Deal was done? We guess not.
  • Did she reveal that she's now pursuing a masters degree in journalism and media? We think (and we're checking so that we can be sure) that only one Jordanian institution offers such a program. If that's right, then it happens to be a school about which we have written in the past, and which has a startling connection to Tamimi herself: See "By their role models shall ye know them" [Times of Israel, December 2014]. If we're right, and we are pretty sure we are, we plan to write about that college again. Its foreign-aid backers and its royal founder ought to know.
  • The Tamimis claim to have "received messages threatening to pursue them and to lay cases against them in the United States". The notion of threats doesn't make much sense. The reporter could have mentioned that the US Department of Justice unveiled serious criminal charges against Ahlam Tamimi more than two years ago ["14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and extradition is sought"]. He could have pointed out she was arrested in Jordan by Jordanian police on the basis of an Interpol Red Notice in September 2016, but he doesn't. (She was released the following morning but that says more about Jordan and its legal and power system than about the criminality of Ahlam Tamimi.) Maybe he doesn't know. Maybe he already forgot. Maybe this isn't really about facts and news but about fantasies and delusions of Tamimi victimhood. But how is this journalism?
  • The reporter and his editors are under the mistaken impression that Trump envoy Jason "Greenblatt announced a reward of the equivalent of 5 million dollars to anyone who can provide information on Ahlam Al-Tamimi". No, he didn't, actually. The reward, which certainly does exist, was issued more than a year before Greenblatt mentioned it in his Tweet. And it doesn't come from Greenblatt but from a unit of the US State Department called Rewards for Justice. The details for the Al Jazeera news hounds are here (you're welcome): "31-Jan-18: There's now a $5 million reward for bringing the terrorist Ahlam Tamimi to justice". Can we now expect a correction? Or do Al Jazeera's people claim ownership of their own version of reality?
  • It's quite moving to read that "The best years of [the Tamimi couple's] lives were taken from them by Israeli courts and prison bars". Taken from them? Why? But it's chilling that the editors of this Al Jazeera group outlet manage to tell the story of two unusually cruel murderers without even a passing reference to the many lives they extinguished by their acts of depraved savagery. They give the impression that they identify with the killers and the killings. Is this fair of us? But if we're right (of course we are), do their pay-masters in the government of Qatar know this? Perhaps they will now. Perhaps they will even want to know about the life and lost "best years" of our desperately missed daughter Malki who was 15 when Ahlam Tamimi delivered her exploding guitar case on the back of her human bomb to Sbarro. (Full disclosure: Malki was not the only person murdered there that day. It was a massacre. In a pizzeria. Children were the target; they ended up being more than half the casualties. Tamimi's sickening, satanic plan worked. She hasn't stopped smiling and boasting about it.)  
  • When Al Jazeera quotes Nizar Tamimi asserting that "other [Palestinian Arab] prisoners have been killed after they were released from prison", did they check? Can they bring cases? As a news agency, did they think of listing the names of the many mass murderers [some named here along with their crimes] who walked free in that catastrophic transaction? Did they think of referring to the Israelis murdered after the Shalit Deal [some of them named here] by unrepentant terrorists who were let loose?
  • The Al Jazeera editors, aware of the endless enmity among the Hamas, Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad factions, must have seen the almost humorous irony in their reporter claiming the Tamimis as "the embodiment of the reality of a unified Palestinian people". Unified? They must have already decided this scurrilous piece of reporting-as-incitement needed to serve a higher purpose than the objective reporting of news. So what the heck - go for broke. 
  • Will the major news organizations and global content aggregators who partner with Al Jazeera (like GoogleBloombergTechLiveSnapchatbe interested to know how the party they're consorting with acts as an active and effective promoter of terrorism that publishes sentiments like Ahlam Tamimi's "there is no way to liberate Palestine except through resistance"? Probably not. The rest of us surely should.
This reward poster in Arabic was issued by the US State
Department in January 2018 but has never been physically
posted anywhere in Jordan or the Arab world.
In the interests of seeming balanced, and having regard for the monumental media footprint the Al Jazeera empire has managed to create, here's what the public relations professionals working at Al Jazeera said about their employer a year ago:
We, at Al Jazeera, renew our commitment to global audiences with news coverage and programs which provide in depth analysis of news and current affairs. We will continue celebrating the achievements brought by our diversity of staff who hail from almost 100 different countries. It is this diversity of values and cultures that enriches our work and provides our audiences with the award-winning content on all our platform. We urge democratic forces all over the world, especially in United States, to stand with free media institutions to promote and protect the values of democracy, liberty, human rights, freedom of media and the right to free speech. Don’t shoot the messenger, journalism is not a crime.
Maybe they don't mean their Arabic output. And when the subject is this thing they call "resistance", perhaps different rules apply.

UPDATE Monday April 2, 2019 at 7:00 pm: The Al Jazeera piece includes a substantial video interview which is of course not in English. We have just been told by friends (thank you, friends!) that MEMRI has posted a translation. Please go and read, watch and share - it's here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

25-Mar-19: On justice and decency for American victims of terrorism: When US indignation leads to a troubling comparison

Yilmaz [Image Source]
What follows might at first not seem a relevant contribution to our battle for the extradition to Washington DC of our child's killer. But in a surprising and little-noted way, that is just what it is.

In early February, we became aware for the first time of a terrorism case involving a Turk by the name of Adem Yilmaz. (He's actually quite peripheral to our purpose in this post.)

Yilmaz was indicted by the United States in 2015 on a variety of charges tied to terrorism activity. This included his alleged role in a human bomb attack in Afghanistan that took the lives of two American soldiers. Eleven other people were injured.

From the Associated Press report, we learned that the case against Yilmaz had been kept under seal - unpublicized, a secret - for some years right up until early February 2019. During those years, he was serving time in a German prison. He was convicted by a court in Dusseldorf in 2010 which
sentenced Yilmaz to 11 years in prison for trying to mount what the German judge reportedly called a "second September 11." [VOA
The American charges related to Yilmaz being part of a foiled 2007 plot to attack American citizens and facilities in Germany including the U.S. Air Force's Ramstein base. In order to bring him to justice, the American authorities needed to wait till he completed that German prison term.

This Yilmaz story caught our eye.

Why? Because of the parallels with Ahlam Tamimi who, though not held in custody, lived free and unencumbered in Jordan for five and a half years before the US Department of Justice unsealed criminal charges against her that had been issued in 2012.

Yilmaz behind bullet proof glass inside the courtroom
of the district court in Duesseldorf,
western Germany [Image Source]
Those Tamimi charges relate to her role in the devastating bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001. We described that process in a post ten days ago ["14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?"]

But what happened after the charges against the Turkish jihadist were unsealed is simply stunning.

Within a few days of being formally asked by the US to extradite Yilmaz who was "still deemed dangerous by German authorities", the Germans - according to another AP report - decided instead to put him on a plane to his native Turkey.

He was briefly held by anti-terrorism authorities at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. And then he was simply let loose. He's now free [source].

How very not surprising.

The reaction from the United States, however, is the real point. A February 25, 2019 report quotes Robert Palladino, deputy spokesman for the State Department, telling a press briefing that the US has been in talks with Ankara about Yılmaz:
"Yılmaz is a convicted terrorist; he's charged with serious crimes by the United States... The United States will never relent in its efforts to bring Yılmaz to justice.”
Bravo! AP again:
Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan immediately called a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who was in Washington to take part in meetings of the coalition fighting against the Islamic State group, to express American displeasure. "We are gravely disappointed by Germany's decision to deport a dangerous terrorist — Adem Yilmaz — to Turkey, rather than to extradite him to the United States to face justice for his complicity in the murder of two American servicemen," acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement later Wednesday after the two diplomats had met.
Gravely disappointed is a fine start. And then this:
"Adem Yilmaz is responsible for the deaths of U.S. servicemembers," U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said in a tweet on Thursday. "This failure to extradite him to the United States violates the terms and spirit of our Extradition Treaty."
Yes, it does.

And seeing those words there both uplifts us and depresses us. If only we had heard something even remotely like them in the Tamimi case.

Indeed, several disturbing Tamimi/Jordan-related questions suggested themselves to us as we thought through what had just happened. For instance why has the US evidently accepted Jordan's abrogation of its treaty obligations with vastly more understanding and grace and far less indignation than in the Germany/Turkey case? 

What wouldn't we give to hear a robust declaration from the State Department to its Jordanian counterparts calling them out on Jordan's dereliction of the responsibility to extradite Tamimi to the US; on flouting their treaty obligations; on undermining the rule of law.

Ahlam Tamimi
Then we learned that the Anti-Defamation League in Washington was thinking similar thoughts.

On March 12, 2019, the ADL'S CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt wrote a public letter to the US Attorney General William P. Barr highlighting some of the parallels between the Yilmaz and Tamimi cases.

And, to our rising optimism, he asked for an official public response. (The emphases in the quotes that follow are ours.)

Greenblatt noted that
Ms. Tamimi’s case is almost identical in many respects to the Yilmaz case on which the Justice Department recently spoke out. As you may know, Tamimi is on the list of America’s Most Wanted Terrorists because of her role in a 2001 suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem by the U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Hamas that killed 15 people, including two American civilians.
One of those killed American civilians, as most regular readers of this blog will know, is our daughter Malki whose life ended when she was just 15.
That attack also injured over 100 others, including four Americans, one of whom remains in a permanent vegetative state since that attack over 17 years ago. Tamimi was indicted in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Justice for precisely this reason after Israel reluctantly released her under duress as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. Like Yilmaz, Tamimi is a dangerous terrorist who has been enjoying legal impunity in a U.S. ally (Jordan) that since March 2017 has refused to honor its treaty to extradite her to the United States, even though the State Department lists that treaty as still in force on its website. Jordan has previously extradited terrorism suspects to the United States under this treaty. In the meantime, Tamimi has bragged (on camera) about her role in killing Jewish children and makes repeated public appearances as a celebrity and role model, including on Jordanian television, seated beside Jordanian politicians, and at the country’s main trade union office.
We were thrilled by how the ADL letter then set about framing the issue:
This is a vital matter of justice and decency for American victims of terrorism, and for ensuring that America does not apply a double-standard in pursuing justice when the victims are American Jews or other American citizens visiting the Jewish State. 
As the criminal charges the U.S. Department of Justice has filed against Tamimi illustrate, American law clearly grants our government the right – and the obligation – to pursue and prosecute terrorists who murder American citizens abroad, and yet not a single terrorist who has killed an American in Israel or the disputed territories has ever been successfully tried by the U.S. government, and almost none have even been indicted by the U.S. government. 
This case is a welcome exception in that the Department of Justice has taken vigorous steps to bring this terrorist to American justice, but the government of Jordan is thwarting the Department of Justice efforts. (To be best of our knowledge, there is no indication that the State Department has acted as vigorously as the Justice Department to ensure that Jordan complies with America’s extradition request.)
The letter goes on to pose some sharp and very welcome questions:
As such, I have several questions for you that go to the heart of whether America is equally committed to ensuring justice for these victims of terrorist acts, including:
First, has the U.S. government sought a review of the Jordanian Court of Cassation’s March 2017 decision to invalidate America’s 1995 extradition treaty with Jordan on narrow, technical grounds, rendering it void from the day it was signed until today, and denying the extradition to the United States of Ahlam al-Tamimi, an admitted mass murderer whose victims include three U.S. citizens?
Second, does the U.S. government agree that this Jordanian decision runs counter to the reality that Jordan has extradited at least three Jordanian citizens to the United States, where they were prosecuted and imprisoned for serious crimes? And that these extraditions related to the deaths of fewer American citizens than the number of killings of U.S. citizens for which Tamimi has been charged?
Third, will the U.S. government clarify to its Jordanian ally its extreme dissatisfaction at the highest levels regarding how this action has resulted in Tamimi evading justice while developing a celebrity persona and a career as a media commentator, as a figure of significant influence in Jordan advocating terrorist attacks and as a person actively encouraging Jordanians and Arabic-speakers outside Jordan (via a television program she broadcast globally from Amman between 2012 and 2016) to provide material support to terrorist organizations?
Fourth, does the U.S. government see the Jordanian court ruling, Jordan’s subsequent refusal to do anything to ratify the extradition treaty to overcome that ruling, and its refusal to extradite Tamimi outside of the framework of that treaty as an unacceptable dereliction of a strategic ally’s responsibility to uphold its legal obligations and the rule of law, as well as a stain on Jordan’s record as a generally staunch partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism?
And fifth, what does the U.S. government intend to do to ensure that Tamimi does not continue to enjoy her legal impunity and public profile in Jordan in the same manner that Adem Yilmaz will likely be able to do as a result of Germany’s refusal to extradite him to the United States, which, as you noted, helped him “deliberately... escape justice”?
As far as we know, the ADL has not yet heard back from the DOJ. We will be watching.

And hoping.