Friday, May 20, 2022

20-May-22: Jordan's king takes Washington again as we try to get our pursuit of justice noticed

Jordan's Washington embassy published
this proud tweet [Image Source]
Jordan's King Abdullah II spent all of last week in the United States. It was a visit filled with events including a solemn ceremony in which America's Catholic hierarchy paid homage to His Majesty and his wife for Jordan's "religious tolerance, harmonious interfaith, overall peace, and humanitarian efforts". 

Also: top-level meetings in the Congress involving various committees of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. And a lot of media ["Biden reaffirms Jordan's role overseeing Temple Mount", Associated Press, July 13, 2022]

Our own sources inform us that the Tamimi issue came up. But only tangentially and never once reported in the news.

From Jordan's standpoint, the peak achievement was a well-publicized face-time session in the Oval Office with America's chief executive. Here's the White House's official summing-up of the discussions between the two leaders: 

Readout of President Biden’s meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan

MAY 13, 2022 | President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. met today with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and reaffirmed the close and enduring nature of the friendship between the United States and Jordan.  Jordan is a critical ally and force for stability in the Middle East, and the President confirmed unwavering U.S. support for Jordan and His Majesty’s leadership.  The leaders consulted on recent events in the region and discussed urgent mechanisms to stem violence, calm rhetoric and reduce tensions in Israel and the West Bank. The President affirmed his strong support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and cited the need to preserve the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. The President also recognized the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s crucial role as the custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem. The leaders discussed the political and economic benefits of further regional integration in infrastructure, energy, water, and climate projects, with Jordan a critical hub for such cooperation and investment.  They agreed to remain in regular touch and further enhance the historic ties between our countries.

Not surprisingly in view of how things have gone so far with the Biden administration, Jordan's harboring of America's most wanted female fugitive was left off the agenda. 

So too Jordan's ongoing breach of the Clinton-era Extradition Treaty that since 1995 has enabled the US to request and get the arrest and handing over of Jordanian terrorists for trial and imprisonment in the US.

How well did all of this go for the Hashemite Kingdom? Spectacularly well. The post-visit video published by its embassy in Washington has the highlights along with a stirring musical sound track:

The images in the video clip of happy Congressional figures including Senators and Representatives, their advisers, senior officials, as well as key figures in the State Department and the White House make for hard viewing if, like us, you're pressing many of those same people to stand up for American principles, values and laws in order to persuade an extremely well-funded minor state in the Middle East to comply with a binding treaty that no one outside Jordan regards as invalid in any sense.

July 13, 2022: Jordan's king, the heir apparent and their Oval Office friend

As heads of state go, Abdullah is one of Washington's most frequent visitors. This source lists more than forty such visits since he ascended to the throne 22 years ago. 

In June 2020 as the COVID pandemic was raging, there was an incredible blitz of behind-closed door, off-the-record video-conference "briefings" (that's the word the Jordanians use) inside the Congress to leaders and committees. See our post "26-Jun-20: Private meetings with His Majesty and the injustice they conceal" with numerous photos that have never gotten into the news media. Then in July 2021, he spent three weeks in the US including another Oval Office visit. A lower-profile visit to New York took place in September 2021 (video) including a behind-closed-doors off-the-record meeting with America's most senior Jewish community leaders. 

King Abdullah meets Senators John Thune, Mitch McConnell
and Chuck Schumer at the US Capitol May 13, 2022 [Getty Images] 
Plainly the royal team know the scene and advance his agenda with distinction.  

As we wrote here ["26-Apr-22: New legislation seeks to hold Jordan accountable for failure to send the Sbarro bomber for trial in Washington"], some Congressional efforts are underway to impose sanctions on Jordan for its failure to respect the long-standing treaty. This is being brushed off in certain quarters of the US capital ["01-May-22: A Congressional initiative sanctioning Jordan gets some Arab lobby attention"]. But in parts of the media - including some Jewish parts - it's getting modest attention.

Over at the blog of the formidable Elder of Ziyon, there's an interview published earlier today by Varda Meyers Epstein (who writes under the nom-de-web Judean Rose) in which Arnold Roth gets to do some venting about the frustrations of trying to get get justice for a murdered child. It's here: "Rep. Greg Steube Wants Congress to Push Back at Jordan on Thwarted Extradition (Judean Rose)". And for anyone wanting to acquire a sense of what we face - and the miserable public figures who are responsible for the protracted nature of our battle to see justice done - it has some insights we hope will interest you.

Here's one of the numerous well-crafted questions Varda asked me in our Elder Of Ziyon exchange, with my response.

Varda Epstein: There has to be a sense of betrayal that Israel released your daughter’s murderer from prison, especially since you threw in your lot with the Jewish State by making Aliyah. Your wife is American. Does she feel a sense of betrayal as an American citizen at the lack of will to push for extradition? How does it feel to be doubly betrayed, so to speak?

Arnold Roth: That’s a hard question to answer. Not because I don’t feel those things but because complaining of being betrayed doesn’t go down well or get you far in the court of public opinion. People have a hard enough time with their own problems.

So first about Israel. Yes, we have certainly been betrayed. That’s the right word: we had rights and they were and are being cruelly trampled and with no regard to what this does to our values as a society. Or to people like us.

In this, we are not alone. The same thing can be said by all the other families who experienced the murder or maiming of loved ones by terrorists who were sentenced to long prison terms by judges applying very respectable judicial criteria and then watching as the convicts walked triumphantly free.

That should never have happened. Those who argue differently need to review what they think they know about justice and Jewish values.

But it’s clear to us that Israel as a nation didn’t betray us. It was politicians. There’s much more I would want to say about that aspect but not now. We remain as Zionist as the day we arrived in Israel, passionate and proud to be raising our children and grandchildren in the Jewish homeland.

I’m not an American. But Malki was and so are my wife and children.

Did the US betray us? No, and this is a good moment to say that we get gratifying support from wide parts of American society. But as with Israel, the politicians – except for those who have shown a distinct sense of morality and honor – do what politicians do and hurt us in heartless ways.

From conversations with US government officials, we have the sense – never said to us in this way – that there’s more interest in seeing Ahlam Tamimi slip away and somehow disappear into the desert than in having her stand trial in Washington.

This is not a partisan political thing; we are almost, though not quite, as infuriated by how the GOP has pushed past the Jordan/Tamimi issue as we are by the Democrats. Again, this isn’t about which side of the US divide you stand on.

Much of America’s Jewish community leadership has been unhelpful and cold. Having said that, it’s an exceptionally painful subject that I don’t want to address here. At some point we will because there’s much we have learned on this that we would have preferred never to know. And people ought to know.

Here’s what I want to say about the US government. Other than at the political leadership level, the Justice Department and the FBI have always given us the sense of being with us and wanting the same result we want – Tamimi in a federal court on trial for her terrorism and the deaths she caused. We sincerely appreciate the hard work that has kept the pursuit of the Sbarro bomber going all these years.

This is relevant to something that happened some weeks ago when Frimet and I met with a significant US government figure (hereafter SUSGF). And here’s the only part of it worth raising in today’s interview. We were told ahead of time by our own sources that SUSGF was going to receive a briefing before our sit-down from well-connected officials in Washington. But in speaking with us for an hour or so, SUSGF volunteered half-way through that he/she skipped the briefing. Hence our mild hope of getting some insight into why we have been treated as pariahs for so long by the government of which our murdered child was a national was misplaced. We learned nothing. The experience was a waste of everyone’s time.

There’s no point in sharing my feelings about the governments of the past. But here’s a thought about the current administration.

Speaking in July 2021 during the first of the three official visits to the US made by King Abdullah in the past ten months, President Biden called Jordan “loyal and decent friend… We’ve been hanging out together for a long time. It’s good to have him back in the White House.”

The same day those comments were reported in the New York Times, Frimet and I wrote an open letter to President Biden. It was published prominently in the Wall Street Journal:

The president, a grieving parent himself, pledged during his inauguration speech to write “an American story of decency and dignity.” Is anything more dignified than doing justice? What’s decent about an ally shirking a treaty to appease popular bigotry?

That question is still on my mind. And again, no response has ever come from the White House.

We also wrote a private letter to Secretary of State Blinken six weeks earlier, in July 2021. He has never answered.

Naturally we hope you will read and share the whole thing.

Just ahead of the latest King Abdullah visit to Washington, we put out a media release of our own that had less impact than we hoped - but we're glad for what we did get. 

Here's how the Australian Jewish News reported it today:

Roths pressure monarch | "Ahlam Tamimi's obscene, ongoing freedom in Jordan has to be on the agenda of every meeting the Jordanian monarch is granted." | By PETER KOHN | May 20, 2022

Arnold and Frimet Roth have thrown their support behind draft legislation in the US Congress to compel Jordan to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, a terrorist involved in the bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria that claimed the life of their Australian-born daughter Malki 21 years ago.
Click to enlarge

The Roths have publicly endorsed a bill by Congressman Greg Steube, a Florida Republican, which would commit Congress to recognising Jordan has an extradition treaty with the US. Malki, 15, was a US citizen through her American-born mother.

The couple’s endorsement coincided with a visit to Washington by Jordan’s King Abdullah II last Friday to meet with US President Joe Biden over a Jordanian bid to increase the Waqf presence on the Temple Mount after recent unrest, a move rejected by Israel, which has sovereign jurisdiction there.

Tamimi was charged with terrorist crimes by the US in 2013 and is on a list of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists. The bill proposes penalising Jordan if it does not extradite Tamimi. Said Steube, “Our US tax dollars will not continue to flow to a country harbouring a Hamas terrorist with American blood on her hands.”

Jordan maintains its extradition treaty with the US was never ratified, but the Roths cite documentation contradicting this.

Tamimi, one of the bombers of the Sbarro pizzeria in 2001 which killed 15 and injured 140, served part of a sentence in Israel but was extradited in a prisoner swap to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas. She is now a Jordanian media personality and remains unrepentant about her role in the attack.

“Ahlam Tamimi’s obscene, ongoing freedom in Jordan has to be on the agenda of every meeting the Jordanian monarch is granted,” Arnold Roth said of King Abdullah II’s US visit.

Roth told The AJN this week that attempts to engage the Australian government through Prime Minister Scott Morrison and predecessor Malcolm Turnbull have so far yielded “frustratingly disappointing outcomes”. He added, “At this point, Frimet and I have stopped knocking on their doors.”
That last paragraph is not quite what Arnold said. It's a condensed version of how he expressed it in communicating with the reporter. Space is a heavier issue in paper-based publications than online. Here's the full (but unpublished) text of Arnold's comment to the AJN: 
It's likely that most Australians, including the Jewish community where we lived before we made aliyah and where Malki was born, will not see this as an issue on which they can play a constructive role. 

But that's not the case. The decision to be decisive is of course one that has to be made by the Americans. But we think it will help if the recalcitrant Jordanians know the world is watching as they keep the fugitive bomber safe and famous in Amman. 

Australia, for good historical reasons, has warm relations with the Hashemite kingdom. That's what brought me to write an op ed in The Australian, five years ago this week in fact, calling on the then-prime minister to in effect have a quiet word with King Abdullah. Mr Turnbull's answer was a very welcome one but the follow up by others in his government was not. The initiative ended up falling by the wayside. 
For the past two years I have made similar efforts with the current Australian leadership via the prime minister's team and DFAT [Australia's foreign ministry] - with frustratingly disappointing outcomes. At this point, Frimet and I have stopped knocking on their doors.
Our pursuit of justice goes on. We hope you decide to be with us.

Monday, May 09, 2022

09-May-22: No more excuses, Jordan [Guest Post]

Soldiers of Jordan Armed Forces and U.S. military service members
salute during playing 
of the national anthems at dedication ceremony
for expanded Jordan Armed Forces Joint Training Center
October 10, 2018 [
Image Source]

[This guest post is authored by Bennett Ruda. His background is below.] 

Back in June 2020, it seemed as if the US had finally turned the corner on the issue of extraditing an Arab terrorist to the US for the murder of a US citizen.

Ahlam Tamimi is the confessed mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro massacre that killed 15 Israelis, including Malki Roth, who was also an American citizen. 

Jordan had a 1995 extradition treaty with the USwhich had already been honored by Jordan to bring Eyad Ismoil, a Jordanian citizen who assisted in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, back to the US. 

But in the case of Tamimi, the Jordanian courts claimed the treaty had not been ratified by the parliament and refused to hand her over. This despite the fact that, in 2017, a criminal complaint was unsealed against Tamimi in the US against Tamimi for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals. 

But in 2020, it seemed that things were going to change.

During his confirmation hearing to be US ambassador to Jordan, Henry T. Wooster told Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that the US would apply pressure on Jordan to extradite Tamimi:

The United States has multiple options and different types of leverage to secure Ahlam Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi’s extradition. We will continue to engage Jordanian officials at all levels not only on this issue, but also on the extradition treaty more broadly. US generosity to Jordan in Foreign Military Financing as well as economic support and other assistance is carefully calibrated to protect and advance the range of U.S. interests in Jordan and in the region.

Wooster added:

If confirmed, I would explore all options to bring Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi to justice, secure her extradition and address the broader issues associated with the extradition treaty.

This was the day before Jordan's King Abdullah II was scheduled to speak to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee via video.

Whatever was said during that meeting with the Jordanian ruler, nothing was done afterward to follow up on the promise to pressure Jordan to hand over the terrorist.

* * *

It is not as if the US does not have leverage. According to the US State Department website, the US is Jordan's largest provider of assistance, providing more than $1.61 billion in 2021 alone.

After lengthy negotiations, the US and Jordan signed a new defense agreement in January 2021, allowing US forces free entry into Jordan, including both aircraft and vehicles.

Islamist member of Jordanian parliament Saleh al-Armuti
And once again, as in the case of Jordan's extradition treaty with the US, the agreement was signed and approved without going through the Jordanian parliament:

Islamist lawmaker Saleh al-Armuti decried the lack of parliamentary oversight and called on the government to cancel the accord, claiming it “violates the constitution and affects Jordan’s sovereignty.” But [Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman] Safadi pushed back, saying the agreement “in no way affects Jordan’s sovereignty, and everything it contains is subject to Jordanian law and is compatible with international law.” [emphasis added] [Source: Al-Arabiya, March 21, 2021]

There is no indication the Jordanian courts are going to try to claim this agreement is invalid.

* * *

Clearly, Jordan needs the US both militarily and economically.

At a time when the US is struggling in the Middle East in competition with both Russia and China, a recent poll finds that the US has the inside track when it comes to Jordan.

According to the poll by David Pollock of the Washington Institute:

A modestly larger proportion of Jordan’s public says good relations with the United States are either very (18%) or somewhat (34%) important. This is roughly on a par with China, as has been the case in other recent polls. But the United States has a clear advantage over either Russia or China, or any other foreign nation, in several key subcategories. A plurality (43%) pick the United States as “the country that can best help protect us against our foreign enemies.“ A smaller plurality also see the United States as the outside power that “can best promote human rights and democracy in our country” (37%). [emphasis added]

Jordan's trust in the US is in sharp contrast with the Arab states in the Gulf who see themselves as abandoned by the US -- and facing the Iranian threat alone, with the help of Israel.

On the one hand, Jordan does not perceive Iran as a threat on the level that the Gulf Arab states do. According to the poll, only 17% of Jordanians responded that good ties with Iran were "somewhat important" and they are evenly split, at 47%, as to whether "a renewed nuclear deal with Iran" is good or bad for the area.

Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi (R), Egyptian Pres Al-Sisi (L) and King
Abdullah II of Jordan (C) attend a Tripartite Summit in Baghdad, Iraq
And just last year King Abdullah II met with Egyptian president Sisi and Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi to announce an agreement for transporting Iraqi oil via pipelines from Iraq to Jordan to Eqypt, where it will be taken to Europe via the Mediterranean.

But maybe Jordan is not that sanguine about Iran. It is making a point of forging ties with Iran, just as Saudi Arabia has opened up to the idea of talks with Tehran.

Writing for the BESA Center, Dr. Edy Cohen notes:

Because Iraq is a puppet state under Iran’s control, this agreement represents King Abdullah’s “coming out of the closet” with the Islamic Republic. Exporting Iraqi oil through Jordan to Europe is simply exporting oil controlled by Iran, which rules Iraq through its network of Shiite militias and controls the country’s resources.

The day after the announcement, Jordanian state media began promoting full financial cooperation with Iran.

In addition, there is talk of allowing up to one million Iranian religious tourists to visit the village of Kerak to visit the shrine of Jaffar Ibn Abu Taleb and according to the Jordanian press, Iran has proposed building an airport in Kerak.

Nevertheless, a Jordanian TV broadcast at the time warned of the dangers of allowing Iranians into the country as tourists.

Harold Rhode, a longtime former adviser on Islamic affairs in the Defense Department, agrees:

Rhode draws attention to how Tehran became the dominant force in both Lebanon and Syria. It seems to be using the same strategy to take over Jordan. In doing so, “Iran is attempting to surround Israel and Saudi Arabia further.”

At a time when the US is clearly making a point of supporting Jordan as an ally (unlike the Gulf Arabs), King Abdullah is playing with fire. 

By contrast, Jordan is anything but friendly with Israel, despite their peace treaty. In his poll, Pollock found that

Israel remains even more unpopular than Iran among Jordanians today. A mere 10 percent or so, young and old alike, have even a “somewhat” favorable opinion about the late 2020 Abraham Accords between Israel and four other Arab states (the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan). And the same very low percentage of Jordanians agree, a quarter-century after their own formal peace with Israel, that “people who want to have business or sports contact with Israelis should be allowed to do so.” 

* * *

The FBI wants Ahlam Tamimi but Jordan says no
But this is not an issue between Jordan and Israel. It is between Jordan and the US. 

While the US government has not publicly explained its reticence to enforce the treaty, the excuse offered by some is the concern that forcing the issue is too controversial, especially among those Jordanians with Palestinian roots. 

According to this theory, due to the popular support of Tamimi in Jordan, extraditing her to the US to face justice could lead to the fall of the kingdom.

The US consistently justifies aid to Jordan by claiming that Amman is a US ally in the Middle East. If that is true, then at the very least the US should be able to publicly address the issue of Tamimi instead of avoiding and ignoring it. 

In the fight against terror, the US has the opportunity to get a win. As an ally, Jordan should be willing to prove itself.

* * *

Our thanks to guest blogger Bennett Ruda who has blogged as Daled Amos since November 2003. His posts also appear on the Elder of Ziyon site as well as The Jewish Press. Bennett has been involved for some years in helping Frimet and Arnold Roth analyze and respond to government and other authorities in the context of the efforts underway to see Sbarro massacre monster Ahlam Tamimi brought to US justice.

Monday, May 02, 2022

01-May-22: A Congressional initiative sanctioning Jordan gets some Arab lobby attention

Fugitive "alleged" bomber Ahlam Tamimi has celebrity status in Jordan
New legislation introduced to the US Congress last month and centering on the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and its outrageous sheltering of a fugitive terrorist has gotten some initial attention in the Arab world. 

The background is in our post of a few days ago: "26-Apr-22: New legislation seeks to hold Jordan accountable for failure to send the Sbarro bomber for trial in Washington".

In the April 18, 2022 edition of its Washington Policy Weekly, the Arab Center Washington DC (ACW) posts this:

Rep. Steube Pressures Jordan. On April 14, Rep. Gregory Steube (R-Florida) introduced legislation to HFAC (H.R.7527) that would limit assistance to Jordan until it applies the provisions of a US-Jordanian extradition treaty that he claims was signed by the two countries in 1995. Jordan disputes the claim and has not ratified the treaty. Steube wants the Jordanian government to extradite Ahlam Tamimi to the United States for her alleged role in an attack on a pizza parlor in Israel in 2001.

But just how nonpartisan is this report and those who publish it? Two key terms - "he claims" and "her alleged role" - in this very brief ACW piece cry out for some adult attention. 

First, they're right when they say that Congressman Steube claims an extradition treaty was signed in 1995 between Jordan and the United States. But he's not alone. Who else claims it? 

At least two other parties do. One is the United States Department of State. It publishes an authoritative online list it calls Treaties in Force that runs to nearly 600 pages when printed. Look for the heading "Jordan" and the sub-heading "Law Enforcement" on page 243 and there it is: 

Extradition treaty.
Signed at Washington March 28, 1995.
Entered into force July 29, 1995.
TIAS

The second party is the late King Hussein, Jordan's ruler between 1952 and 1999. In a personally-signed document given to the Clinton administration as part of the making of that 1995 treaty, Hussein, the father of Jordan's present king, Abdullah II, forcefully delivered this solemn commitment on July 13, 1995:

…having reviewed the Extradition Treaty signed in Washington on March 28, 1995… [we] do hereby declare our agreement to and ratification of that Treaty in whole and in part. We further pledge to carry out its provisions and abide by its Articles and we, God willing, shall not allow its violation.

(We obtained the document last year via a successful Freedom of Information Act application.) 

King Hussein was true to his letter and did not allow the treaty's violation. In fact, it was first put into effect just one month after it came into force with the extradition to the US of a Jordanian fugitive who faced terrorism charges arising from the first bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1993.

By the time Jordanian officials started carrying out what Hussein swore would not happen - the violation of his treaty with the Americans - he was no longer alive. 

Five years ago, with his son in charge of the Hashemite kingdom, a superior Jordanian court chimed in. Less than a week after long-sealed terror charges against Jordanian celebrity jihadist Ahlam Tamimi were made public in Washington DC by the Justice Department, Jordan's Court of Cassation handed down a brief but decisive ruling that the 1995 treaty was invalid. We documented this at the time ["20-Mar-17: The Hashemite Kingdom's courts have spoken: The murdering FBI fugitive will not be handed over"].

As for ACW using the term "her alleged role" when speaking of Ahlam Tamimi, they probably know that Tamimi has never denied the charges against her. She's made an obscene fetish of boasting publicly about what she did. Those outrageous 2001 murders and her unabashed taking of full credit are why she is an icon today in Jordan. a celebrity throughout the Arab world. 

Half a year ago, from the safety of Jordan's capital, Tamimi addressed a hall filled with young Turkish women and girls at an Islamist conference in Ankara. To their obvious delight, she did what has earned her wide fame: she reveled in the glory of being the person, a woman no less, who brought a human bomb to a Jerusalem pizzeria filled with children on a school vacation afternoon. 

Our daughter Malki, 15 and US citizen, was one of the many children slaughtered there that day. We wrote about Tamimi's triumphant speech here: "27-Feb-22: The Jordanian woman who bombed Sbarro has earned another title"

There's another strange term that ACW's weekly uses. It says  

Steube wants the Jordanian government to extradite Ahlam Tamimi to the United States...

but that's disingenuous. Steube evidently does want that but there's another party that ought to get mentioned here for its hard work for years trying to get Tamimi, who brags of the children she blew apart, extradited to Washington to face trial. 

Congressman Steube isn't alone in wanting Ahlam Tamimi
extradited from Jordan
And that's the US Department of Justice along with the FBI. They announced their intentions all the way back in 2017: "Individual Charged in Connection With 2001 Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem That Resulted in Death of Americans [Department of Justice]"

If the think-tank experts at the Qatar organization's Washington offices don't know the details of the long-delayed Tamimi extradition and prosecution, we can definitely help: "14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and her extradition is requested"

We have little familiarity with the work of ACW which describes itself [here] as independent and nonpartisan. But to us, it's a little startling to see this degree of political position-taking and spin in a self-described nonprofit with Section 501(c)3 tax-exempt status under the US Internal Revenue Code.

At the same time, it owns up to being an offshoot of a Qatari thinktank, the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), headquartered in Doha, Qatar. The anodyne title notwithstanding, it's headed by Dr Azmi Bishara, a one-time Knesset member who fled Israel amid reports of allegations that he had passed information to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and just ahead of Israel's police who reportedly sought his help in their investigation into suspicions relating to treason and espionage

Aspects of Qatar's standing throw light on why it might want to throw shade on efforts to bring a fugitive Hamas terrorist to US justice. This extract from an important and fresh analytical piece by a respected Israeli commentator makes good sense to us:

...Recently crowned by the U.S. as a major non-NATO ally and preparing to host later this year the prestigious soccer World Cup tournament, this tiny, affluent emirate has become the primary cheerleader for Palestinian terrorism. Not only does the ruler, Sheikh Tamim [bin Hamad al-Thani], refrain from expressing any criticism of killing sprees on the streets of Israeli cities or speak out against youth turning the al-Aqsa court into a scene of violence, but he also directs his media empire led by the al-Jazeera broadcast network to pour oil onto the flames, constantly exacerbating tensions. For years Doha has been hosting and financing Hamas leadership, including many operatives involved in initiating attacks on Israel. The country has become an important link in the supply chain of terrorism... Allowed to proceed in the current mode, the combination of Qatar, Hamas and the PA is guaranteed to cause an expansion of the cycle of brutal violence inflicting pain on both Jews and Arabs. If the U.S. truly aspires to achieve a settlement of the Middle East conflict, it cannot turn a blind eye to those seeking to obstruct further progress by igniting cycles of terror and counterterror. ["A Badly Needed New Approach to Quelling the Violence", The Washington Institute - Ehud Ya'ari, April 25, 2022]  

Naturally, we will be watching to see if Rep Steube's important bill attracts less tendentious and more respectable and balanced commentary from other parts of the Arab world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

26-Apr-22: New legislation seeks to hold Jordan accountable for failure to send the Sbarro bomber for trial in Washington

From our Twitter time-line
The US Congressman at the heart of a welcome initiative we described here some four weeks ago ["30-Mar-22: Lawmakers to Secretary of State: What measures are available so that Sbarro bomber is extradited to Washington?"] has just made an important announcement.

Important, that is, to those - like us - who want to see US justice finally catch up with America's most wanted female fugitive. That's the confessed bomber of the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria, a Hamas terrorist zealot who brags of the children whose lives she ended. One of those children was our daughter Malki, a US national, murdered in the Sbarro atrocity at age 15.

Here's the text of  the media release [archived] that Congressman Greg Steube's office issued yesterday.

Steube Introduces Legislation to Hold The Government of Jordan Accountable for Failure to Extradite Hamas Terrorist

April 25, 2022 | Press Release

WASHINGTON— U.S. Representative Greg Steube (R-Fla.) recently introduced The Recognition of the 1995 Jordan Extradition Treaty with the U.S. Act to limit U.S. assistance to Jordan until the Government of Jordan recognizes the validity of the 1995 extradition treaty between the two countries.

"Our U.S. tax dollars will not continue to flow to a country harboring a Hamas Terrorist with American blood on her hands," said Congressman Greg Steube. "The Government of Jordan is failing to comply with a 1995 treaty which requires them to extradite individuals like Ahlam al Tamimi who faces trial for terrorism under U.S. law. My legislation will ensure our foreign assistance to Jordan is abruptly halted until Jordan is in compliance with our extradition treaty."

The U.S. and Jordan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on U.S. foreign assistance to Jordan which committed the U.S. to providing $1.2 billion per year in bilateral foreign assistance over a five-year period for a total of $6.3 billion between 2018 and 2022. This MOU represents a 27% increase in the U.S. commitment to Jordan above the previous agreements.

Ahlam al Tamimi lives freely in Jordan despite orchestrating a horrific 2001 terrorist attack in Israel which killed 15 innocent people, including two American citizens, and injured 122 others. Ahlam al Tamimi is on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s Most Wanted Terrorist List. 

The text of the bill itself (here at 117th Congress, 2d Session, H. R. 7527) was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives on April 14, 2022. 

The language of the proposed law notes that the Extradition Treaty between the governments of the US and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was signed at Washington on March 28, 1995. It entered into force on July 29, 1995. The US view is that it is clearly still in effect.

As we noted a month ago [here], Jordanian fugitive terrorist Ahlam Tamimi has lived a public life - undisguised and in full view of Jordanian society and its media - throughout the years that the US has been pursuing her. She has never been in hiding, not even for even a day. And she has been regularly interviewed, has given speeches, has written opinion columns throughout that time. Despite all of this, the multi-million dollar State Department Rewards for Justice prize on her head remains in effect, never yet paid out to anyone. No part of the US news industry has ever raised any questions about this. But we have and we do.

From our own tracking of events, we know Jordan - via its various diplomats and officials - has avoided addressing the treaty and Jordan's breach of it in any direct way. It has preferred instead to allow a decision of its Court of Cassation from March 2017, less than a week after the US charges against Tamimi were unsealed in Washington, to speak for itself.

One notable exception to that policy of ostentatiously ignoring the breach of a bilateral agreement with its most significant ally is a speech in Arabic, never reported in any US media, made by Jordan's then and present foreign minister and deputy prime minister. 

We wrote about it a day later in an open letter to US-educated Ayman Safadi, a key Jordanian insider. The following brief extract is from "13-Nov-19: Thank you, Mr Foreign Minister":

...You and virtually the entire political leadership of Jordan have been careful to avoid all public mentions of the embarrassing and self-humiliating way Jordan harbors the confessed Sbarro bomber and FBI Most Wanted fugitive terrorist Ahlam Tamimi.

More than most people, and related to what we lost in the Sbarro atrocity, we know how willing you are to discuss Jordan's disavowal of its treaty obligations to the US in private meetings about which we have gotten reports. And how unwilling you are to talk about this important issue in public.

It is quite a balancing act.

You might recall how we tried to draw out your response in an article we published more than two years ago, addressed like this current post, to you personally: "26-Jul-17: We listened carefully to Jordan's foreign minister and we have 10 questions".

And as you may remember, you ignored us totally. (So did and do your staff.) 

Special mention of Jordan's ambassador to Washington who right up until today blocks us on Twitter. We assume this is what feeling really embarrassed about an issue will cause even a polite and cultured person like Ambassador Dina Kawar to do...

Congressman Steube initiated a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 23, 2022. Concerning the Tamimi case, it asks meaningful questions and was co-signed by ten additional Members of Congress. All of them are from the GOP side of the Congress. Do we have concerns about this? You bet we do. ["19-Apr-22: To our friends in the Democratic Party"]

So far as we are aware, no response to Mr Steube's letter has yet been received by his office.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

19-Apr-22: To our friends in the Democratic Party

Twitter is where much of our messaging appears these days. It has lots of advantages - you can say things briefly, it gets immediate attention, the audience is large. But once your tweet appears, it's often a matter of a few days at most and sometimes just hours before the attention and the audience move on.

Last week, we posted a thread of tweets that addressed supporters of the Democratic Party. The introduction said this:

We're not involved in US political life. We don't favor GOP over Dems or vice versa. And as parents of a murdered American child, we know our fight for justice is non-partisan. But if you stand with @TheDemocrats, please take 2 mins to read the heartfelt appeal in this thread:

The thread got gratifying attention. 

But it's an important message, one which so far has not attracted any response at all from the people we especially want to reach: the decision-makers among US Democrats. So here it is as a blog post.

____________

To our friends in the @TheDemocrats:

The extradition of @Sbarro monster, @FBIMostWanted fugitive #AhlamTamimi, has been blocked for years by Jordan. It obscenely opposes US efforts to prosecute her and says the 1995 extradition treaty obliging them to hand her over is invalid.

/2

The Sbarro pizzeria is where our daughter Malka Chana Roth was murdered along with many other innocents, most of them children, in a 2001 Hamas outrage spearheaded by Jordanian fugitive Ahlam Tamimi. Click for background.
____________
But it is valid. #Tamimi doesn't deny her key role in the murder of our daughter Malki, 15. Since 2012, my wife and I have pressed the relevant parties to end this charade and get the fugitive into @FBI custody. That we haven't succeeded isn't for lack of trying. 

/3

Malki's fresh grave, the day after her murder. Beside it, the grave of
her closest friend Michal [Image Source: Getty Images]

____________

To our dismay, the @StateDept keeps wanting what we want - #Tamimi in US court facing US justice as US law requires - but says it via what we view as pointless mantras... while routinely praising and rewarding Jordan at every opportunity. Clearly something's wrong.

/4

____________

In the past four months, helped by devoted allies, we asked Members of Congress to sign a letter asking fair and respectful questions about this. It's published here: https://thisongoingwar.blogspot.com/2022/03/30-mar-22-lawmakers-to-secretary-of.html

It's one of the few ways we can draw US gov't officials' attention to the injustice.

/5

____________

There's nothing about the murder of our child and the other American victims in the @Sbarro massacre that ought to divide Americans. This can't be a partisan issue - not if justice means anything. And yet not a single Democrat lawmaker consented to sign. This stuns us.

/6

____________

We also reached out to prominent Democrat figures who aren't in Congress. We have no wish to embarrass them but they could hardly have been less helpful. We're now afraid @TheJusticeDept effort to bring #AhlamTamimi to US justice is becoming a US domestic football. 

/7

____________

We must not let that happen. Doing justice is a sacred mission. But if half the US political spectrum is acting as if it's opposed but never saying so, that's alarming. We ask you to stand up and support this important cause. And we're asking your voters to sign our petition:

/8

____________

To express support and to stand with us as we keep urging the government of the US to explain to Jordan what the 1995 treaty requires it to do, please sign here: change.org/ExtraditeTamimi

Together we will make this happen.

* * *

If you know people who are decision makers in the Democratic Party, people who have a passion for making justice happen, we would very much appreciate you passing our message along to them. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

30-Mar-22: Lawmakers to Secretary of State: What measures are available so that Sbarro bomber is extradited to Washington?

There is a $5M US government reward
for "information" on Tamimi [Source]

A letter from members of the US House of Representatives and delivered to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week addresses the way Jordan, which is bound by a treaty obligation to the US, continues to fail to extradite the Sbarro bomber.

Congressman Greg Steube led the effort. He has served as the U.S. representative for Florida's 17th congressional district since 2019. 

On March 24, 2022, he posted the letter below to his Facebook page along with this brief explanation:

Ahlam Ahmad Al-Tamimi orchestrated a horrific 2001 massacre in Israel which resulted in the deaths and injuries of several American citizens. To this day, she remains free in Jordan. I sent a letter to Secretary Blinken to request what steps the State Department is taking to extradite this Hamas terrorist and bring her to justice for the lives she took.

Here's the text -

March 23, 2022

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20520

Secretary Blinken,

On August 9, 2001, a Jordanian citizen Ahlam Ahmad Al-Tamimi, the first female operative in the ranks of the federally designated terrorist organization Hamas, orchestrated a horrific massacre at a pizzeria in Israel’s capital. Among the 15 murdered in the bombing were two U.S. citizens, Malka Chana Roth, 15, and Judith Shoshana Hayman Greenbaum, 31 and pregnant with her first child. A third US citizen, Joanne Chana Nachenberg, remains to this day in a persistent vegetative state. Among the approximately 122 maimed were four U.S. citizens.

Al-Tamimi was apprehended by the Israeli authorities and tried on terror charges. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 16 consecutive life terms but was released along with 1,026 other convicted terrorists in an extortionate deal Israel was compelled to make in 2011 with Hamas to secure the release of a hostage, Corporal Gilad Shalit. She returned to Jordan where she was born and educated.

At no time has Al-Tamimi, who has referred to the attack as “my operation,” evinced remorse or regret for the barbarism she perpetrated. When asked by a Jordanian reporter in an October 2011 interview whether, if given the chance, she would do the same thing again, she replied: “Of course, I do not regret what happened. Absolutely not! This is the path… 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.” Asked in another interview if she was aware of how many children had been killed in the bombing, Al-Tamimi replied, “three?” The interviewer said it was eight; the horrifying look of delight and satisfaction on her face are captured in a widely shared video clip.

Al-Tamimi’s return to Jordan was that of a triumphant, home-grown heroine. Feted as a celebrity-icon, she soon became the presenter of a weekly, made-in-Amman television program called “Breezes of the Free.” Starting in March 2012 and for the following five years, this attracted a global Arabic-speaking audience whom she treated to a mix of advocacy for Palestinian Arab terror and adulation for its perpetrators.

Al-Tamimi remains free in Jordan up until the present day. Frequently appearing in both conventional and social media in the kingdom and throughout the Arab world, she is a figure of malign influence that by American standards of decency, justice, or morality, would be inconceivable. This extraordinary freedom haunts the bereaved families of the victims of Al- Tamimi’s savagery, including the Americans among them.

On March 14, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a criminal complaint and arrest warrant for Al-Tamimi. She faces trial under a U.S. federal law enacted to fight international terrorism and to hold terrorists and co-conspirators accountable for their heinous actions: 18 U.S.C. § 2332(a). The Federal Bureau of Investigation then added her to its Most Wanted Terrorists List and the U.S. Department of State (State Dept.) Rewards for Justice program announced a $5M reward for information about the fugitive.

Two years later, a letter from our colleagues to your predecessor, Secretary Pompeo, raised concerns about thwarted U.S. efforts to see Al-Tamimi extradited from Jordan under the 1995 treaty binding the two countries. In April 2020, an additional letter by our colleagues asked the Ambassador of Jordan Dina Kawar regarding the ongoing miscarriage of justice and the need for redress by extraditing Al-Tamimi to stand trial in the U.S. To the best of our knowledge, there was no reply from the Embassy of Jordan, only acknowledgment that they saw the letter.

Despite U.S. efforts in the Al-Tamimi case, Jordan has refused to implement the 1995 U.S.- Jordan Extradition Treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate on July 29, 1995. That refusal comes despite the clear and solemn commitment of King Hussein, the father of the present king, in a formal communication made in the name of his kingdom on July 13, 1995 and delivered to the State Dept. stating that:

having reviewed the Extradition Treaty signed in Washington on March 28, 1995… [we] do hereby declare our agreement to and ratification of that Treaty in whole and in part. We further pledge to carry out its provisions and abide by its Articles and we, God willing, shall not allow its violation.

A month later, Jordan-U.S. relations went through a significant escalation with the extradition to the U.S. of a Jordanian fugitive, Eyad Ismael Najim, wanted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The Naim case was subsequently followed by the extradition of additional Jordanian nationals sought by the U.S. on terror charges.

The State Dept. continues to list the 1995 treaty in its authoritative Treaties in Force compendium. Notwithstanding the salutary warning given by the late King Hussein 22 years earlier and despite years of honoring U.S. requests under the treaty, Jordan’s Court of Cassation ruled just a week after the 2017 unsealing of terror charges against Tamimi that the strategic treaty with the U.S. was invalid owing to a failure to ratify. The State Dept. has explicitly disagreed with the judicial ruling which, we note, was silent about the clear statement of ratification issued over the signature of King Hussein.

With these background factors in mind, we respectfully request your response to the following questions:

  1. Is it the State Dept.’s view that the request for Tamimi’s extradition satisfies U.S. law and the requirements of the 1995 treaty?
  2. What measures does the State Dept. consider to be available should Jordan persist in failing to comply with the extradition request?
  3. Has the State Dept. considered, or will it consider imposing sanctions on Jordan if the lawful U.S. request to extradite Tamimi continues to be disregarded?
  4. Has Jordan given the U.S. reasons different from or additional to the reasons stated by its Court of Cassation for the disputed assertion that the 1995 treaty is invalid?
We request your attention to these important matters and look forward to receiving your timely and considered reply within 30 days.

Sincerely,

The letter is signed by the following lawmakers:



* * *

Ahlam Tamimi (often called Al-Tamimi) was born and educated in Jordan and lives there today. Her father spent his working life as a soldier serving in the Jordanian army. 

After being freed (a conditional commutation of her sixteen life-terms prison sentence) from an Israeli prison in October 2001, she returned to Jordan and a lengthy series of parades, speeches, public appearances and wall-to-wall adulation that has gone on for years. Starting in October 2011 and continuing until late-2016, she traveled widely and often to address audiences throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Her wedding in the summer of 2012 to another Palestinian Arab terrorist (her cousin) called Tamimi who was himself freed in the same Shalit deal, received lavish media coverage: "22-Jun-12: A wedding and what came before it".

Between February 2012 and September 2016, her weekly television program "Breezes of the Free", produced in Amman, Jordan and beamed from there via the Hamas satellite network, attracted a global audience to her unique brand of incitement to more Arab-on-Israeli terror and adulation for those who do it.

In an earlier initiative two years ago, one in which the Washington-based Endowment for Middle East Truth took a collaborative role, Congressman Steube wrote to Jordan's then and current ambassador to Washington, Her Excellency Dina Kawar, addressing the imperative of Jordan complying with its obligation to extradite the alleged bomber:
...We believe it is of the highest importance to US/Jordan relations that an outcome is found that honors Jordanian law while ensuring this unrepentant terrorist and murderer of innocent Americans is brought to US justice. Extraditing Tamimi within the framework of a long-standing, effective treaty is a powerful statement that Jordan will not tolerate terrorism nor its promotion. We reaffirm our appreciation for His Majesty King Abdullah II and his inspirational leadership and look forward to the further flourishing of our mutually important alliance. We respectfully await your response. [Full text of the 2020 letter here]
No response, as far as we know, was ever received by Congressman Steube's office from Jordan's Washington embassy.
October 2021: From the safety of her Jordanian base,
Ahlam Tamimi takes part in an Istanbul conference for women and
girls, delivering a tribute to her own career as a religion-inspired
killer of Jews. It's still viewable on YouTube.
 

Half a year ago, Tamimi appeared in public as part of a video conference accessible via YouTube, exhorting others - notably teenage girls - in remarkably candid terms to engage in the kind of terrorism for which she has become notorious and about which she admitted in clear terms ["23-Feb-22: Weaponizing Turkish teenage girls: What the Sbarro bomber did next"].

In late 2021, she was named to the Counter Extremism Project's list known as "The Top 20 Most Dangerous Extremists Around the World".  The details and background are here: "27-Feb-22: The Jordanian woman who bombed Sbarro has earned another title". 

Since March 2017, she has been one of two females on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list. Twenty five individuals in total are currently on that list. 

And since early 2018, the US State Department's Rewards for Justice program (tag line: "Secure a safer world and a brighter future") has offered 
"up to $5 million for information on Ahlam Ahmad al-Tamimi, also known as “Khalti” and “Halati,” as part of its 1993 Violence in Opposition to the Middle East Peace Negotiations reward offer".
Though Tamimi has lived a public life - undisguised and in full view of Jordanian society and its media throughout the period that the US has pursued her, never in hiding for even a day and regularly interviewed or giving speeches or writing opinion columns - the multi-million dollar offer remains in effect and presumably has never been paid out to anyone

No part of the US news industry has ever raised any questions about this. But we have and do.