Wednesday, May 17, 2017

17-May-17: We're asking Australia to help get our daughter's fugitive murderer into a US court

This op ed by Arnold Roth, addressing Australia's political leadership on the matter of extraditing Ahlam Tamimi to face justice in the United States, appeared (slightly modified) in The Australian today.

Help bring Malki’s murderer to justice, Mr Turnbull
ARNOLD ROTH

Canberra, November 24, 2016 [Image Source: Getty]
When people talk about my daughter Malki, they usually mention her smile. It radiated the sunniness of her outlook. Then, at 15, she was murdered.

We moved to Jerusalem, Israel, when Malki, Melbourne-born like her older brothers and me, was three. Ahlam Tamimi, a Jordanian student, was Hamas’s first female terrorist. On August 9, 2001, having spent days scouting the city for a site that attracted crowds of Jewish children, she transported a powerful bomb into Jerusalem.

That bomb was a human being — a young Palestinian Arab zealot with a guitar case. Tamimi, the attack’s mastermind, accompanied him into Jerusalem. Both were aware the case, prepared by others, was filled with explosives and a mass of nails to intensify the flesh-ripping effect.

Malki and her best friend Michal Raziel, standing at the Sbarro pizzeria counter, were engrossed in text­ing.

Tamimi’s bomb stood beside them. At 2pm, he exploded. 

Fifteen were killed in the blast. Dozens were maimed and hideously injured. A young mother, not among the 15, remains in a coma. One of the murdered, her parents’ only child, was pregnant with her first baby. Malki and Michal, inseparable in life, are buried side-by-side.

Boastful, unbowed and smiling coldly at her trial, Tamimi confessed to all charges. She relishes publicly recounting the details of the bloodbath. The court transcript captures how the three judges, stunned by her open enthusiasm for the carnage, warned that no Israeli official should ever consider commuting the sentence: 16 consecutive life terms.

But in October 2011, Israel announced an agonising deal with Hamas for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier they were holding hostage in Gaza.

Along with 1,026 other convicted terrorists, Tamimi walked free. Her sentence, and everyone else’s in the deal, was drastically commuted subject to strict conditions. They included never again engaging in terror.

She returned to her homeland and at Amman airport received a raucous welcome befitting a national hero. The next day, more privately, there was another jubilant reception inside Jordan’s national law courts. I found photographs online. (They have since been removed.)

Tamimi, its chief planner, has no doubts about the morality of the Sbarro massacre. Did she feel remorse, one TV interviewer inquired: “No, why should I?On another occasion: “I’m not sorry for what I did.” Asked in another interview, “Would you do it again if you had the chance?” she did not hesitate: “Yes.”

From Jordan, Tamimi began presenting an incitement-filled TV show of her own in February 2012. Called Breezes of the Free, it focuses on Arab terrorists imprisoned in Israel.

Its toxic hate is beamed weekly by satellite and hundreds of videostreaming websites to Arabic-speaking audi­ences globally, including Australia.

Tamimi lives the life of a celebrity. Her wedding to a cousin, convicted, like her, of murder and set free, got live coverage comparable to a royal visit. Her frequent public appearances in Jordan and other Arab countries attract crowds of devotees. She urges followers, particularly young women, to emulate her and undertake terror actions directed at civilians, particularly children.
This opinion piece first appeared in The Australian
on Wednesday 
[Source]

In March 2012, I sought and got meetings in Washington with the US Department of Justice and the FBI. These led to a hearing a year later before a federal judge and to criminal charges against Tamimi for offences against US citizens. (Because her mother is American, Malki held US citizenship.)

The file remained sealed and secret, even from us, until some weeks ago.

Last March, US federal prosecutors and investigators came to Jerusalem to update us. They said Jordan, which had been asked repeatedly to arrest and extradite Tamimi to stand trial in the US, refused. Three hours after that meeting, Tamimi officially became a fugitive from US justice. FBI Most Wanted posters warn in English and Arabic that she is armed and dangerous. A week later, a Jordanian court ruled that the 1995 Jordan-US extradition treaty was unenforceable. Arab media coverage suggested why: the treaty was never ratified; the Jordanian constitution blocked it; Jordanian citizens could never be extradited by Jordan.

Legal experts we have consulted express scepticism about these claims. It seems that for Jordan this is less about laws than about politics. Tamimi has a wide Jor­danian support base. The king, whose powers are broader than Britain’s monarch but in a country with significant instability, is said to prefer avoiding such complex issues.

The challenges for us are clear but not simple: to persuade the king of Jordan that Jordan’s friends and allies, including the US and Australia, are appalled by the efforts to shelter a confessed mass-murderer. If Tamimi, who boasts publicly and often of the carnage her bomb caused, keeps being shielded from justice, Jor­danian pronouncements about its dedication to fighting terror will have lost all meaning.

Australians can play a meaningful role. In his visit to Canberra last November, King Abdullah II expressed concern about “extremist forces in the region”. Signing a Joint Declaration on Enhanced Co-operation, Malcolm Turnbull said Jordan and Australia “stand together in rejecting those who seek to impose their perverse world views on others through division and violence”.

To Prime Minister Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, I say: Few measures could more powerfully express rejection of division and violence than Jordan, encouraged by its Australian friends, respecting its extradition obligations and bringing Malki’s bigoted, vicious and utterly unrepentant murderer to justice.

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