|Congressman Adam Smith in Amman (Source: Jordan Times)|
A Democrat, Smith represents Washington state's 9th Congressional district. Before that he served in the Washington State Senate. He has been a member of the House Armed Services Committee since 1997 and is its current chairman.
The details of his formal visit to the royal palace appeared on the website of Jordan's embassy in Washington DC. They also appeared on the website of Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court and a little later in the government-controlled Jordan Times. If it goot US media coverage, we haven't seen it.
We noted and commented on the visit here.
Smith's was one of three Congressional Delegation visits to the royal place in Amman that we know of between the first week of October and the first week of November. There may have been others that we didn't spot. We're new to the business of tracking the activities of US Congress people when they're outside the US. The US media seem to pay them little to no attention.
So why is this an issue for us?
|Arabic and English reward posters issued in 2018 by the US State Department|
Our 15 year old daughter Malki was one of the many children inside that pizzeria who were blown to pieces.
Ahlam Tamimi, whom we consider a monster, has taken credit for years - on television, in the print media, on multiple social media platforms - for selecting the site (the large number of Jewish children inside at that hour was the key factor) and for personally bringing the bomb (a human, enrwapped in explosives and ugly little nails) to the door of the pizzeria just before fleeing to save herself.
She calls it "my operation" and has never denied the charges. She has publicly and repeatedly confessed.
Our disappointment at the repeated failure to act of a long and bipartisan string of US politicians and officials to whom we have turned is exacerbated by our fury at the brazenness of the Jordanians whose bad faith in this matter is, as we see it, beyond all doubt.
It's highly unlikely that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will ever voluntarily extradite this woman. If the mainstream media paid attention - but they do not - more people would understand how much of a national hero she is for Jordanians. On the other hand, no one seriously doubts, given the history and the realpolitik, that the US can ensure Jordan hands her over to face trial in Washington. But it does not.
Meanwhile we're pained by how US/Jordan relations roll right along with most of the players choosing to ignore the grotesque elephant in the room. That Jordan's king is a frequent honored visitor in the US Congress and the White House, and that his palace in Amman is a remarkably popular destination for a stream of elected US officials are matters that embitter us.
District Office of Rep Adam Smith
101 Evergreen Building
15 S. Grady Way
Renton, WA 98057
Dear Ms Cole,
I am writing on a matter of justice in the personal and literal sense.
In 2017, the Department of Justice unveiled terrorism charges against a Jordanian woman, Ahlam Tamimi. She is the confessed murderer of my daughter Malki. My child was 15 and a US citizen when her life ended in a Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria.
Jordan immediately rebuffed the US request to extradite her even though there has been a valid and active extradition treaty between the two countries since it was signed during the Clinton Administration's days.
Jordan's highest court ruled, just days after the US charges were announced against Tamimi, that the treaty is invalid and unconstitutional. Not only that, but it has always been invalid and unconstitutional siince the day it was signed.
An announcement made less than a week ago by the State Department [described at https://thisongoingwar.blogspot.com/2019/11/03-nov-19-in-washington-step-towards.html] makes plain that the US rejects Jordan's interpretation.
In the meantime, Tamimi lives free in Jordan's capital, not in hiding, a celebrity whose constant acts of incitement to further Islamist terror atrocities are amplified by her frequent and essentially unfettered access to Jordan's media.
Mr Smith's visit to Jordan, reported today in the Jordanian media (see http://jordantimes.com/news/local/king-receives-us-house-representatives-delegation), comes on the heels of one by Speaker Pelosi in October and one by Rep Jason Crow a few weeks before that.
It prompts me to ask these questions:
- Was Mr Smith briefed by the State Department or the US embassy in Amman prior to meeting the king and Jordan's foreign minister?
- Did the briefing/s touch on US efforts to extradite Tamimi to Washington DC?
- Did Mr Smith urge his hosts to ensure compliance by Jordan with its treaty obligations to the US?
My questions are for the record, and I do plan to publicize them and whatever response your office shares with me.
- Is Mr Smith willing to speak with me about this after he returns?
Sincerely,Separately but at about the same time, we reached out to a contact in the US State Department to find out about briefings given to Congress persons who come calling on Jordan's king in his palace. What, in effect, we asked was whether Representative Smith was told ahead of sitting down with the king about Jordan's breach of its extradition treaty obligations with the US and/or of years of US efforts to extradite Ahlam Tamimi to Washington.
The answer we got was cloudy and unhelpful.
Just after sending the letter, Arnold posted this tweet:
A mildly encouraging reply arrived by email later that day from Representative Smith's staff:Mr @RepAdamSmith (D-WA09):— Arnold Roth (@arnoldroth) November 8, 2019
Jordan's news media say you are in Amman after meeting @KingAbdullahII and Jordan's foreign minister. I have just emailed some questions to your district office. I would appreciate the courtesy of a reply.
B/ground https://t.co/zdAuTB6nrr pic.twitter.com/p68nKdNS8e
Fri, Nov 8, 8:35 PMAnd then another from Caleb Randall-Bodman from the same Smith team:
Thank you for reaching out! I’m looping in Monica Matoush and Caleb Randall-Bodman from the HASC communications team who can help answer your questions. I’m also adding Chairman Smith’s Communications Director Justin Weiss for his awareness.
If there’s anything else I can assist with, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
District Scheduler/Office Manager
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09)
Nov 8, 2019, 9:12 PM
to Frimet, Arnold, Monica, Caitlyn, Justin
Arnold - thanks for your questions. The Chairman is actually still in transit back from the trip. We’ll make a point to touch base with him about your questions when he is back home, and we will be in touch in the coming days.
Thanks,We waited four days for a proper response. Then Arnold emailed this:
November 12, 2019
Dear Mr Randall-Bodman,
I appreciate your acknowledging my email to Rep Smith.
As you may realize, my wife and I are campaigning to see delayed justice done in the case of our murdered daughter. The questions in my letter are framed as yes/no to encourage a timely response.
We would appreciate knowing if an answer is on the way.
Arnold waited two more days and then sent this:
Nov 14, 2019, 11:16 AM
to Caleb, Frimet, Monica, Caitlyn, Justin
Ladies and gentlemen,
If there is a reasonable justification for us to keep waiting for an answer to our straightforward questions, please let us know what it is.
But if we don't hear it from you today, we plan to press forward on the assumption that we are once again being ignored.
The only reason we are dealing with Members of Congress is because our child's murderer, an FBI Most Wanted fugitive terrorist, is living a dream life instead of being extradited to Washington.
We can deal with excuses and political differences. Being ignored is unacceptable.Later the same day, this arrived from Monica Matoush on behalf of Representative Smith:
Nov 14, 2019, 5:03 PMArnold waited four days. Then emailed this:
to Caleb, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor, Arnold, Frimet
Good Morning Mr. Roth,
I apologize for the delay. Chairman Smith returned to DC just yesterday and was immersed in meetings, hampering my ability to engage with him on this sensitive subject.
In speaking with staff who accompanied him on the trip they were not in room, so they are unable to advise if the subject of Ms. Tamimi’s extradition was part of the discussion.
We will make a point today to discuss with Chairman Smith whether he had any prior knowledge to the specifics you’ve mentioned below, what information, if any, our State Dept provided him and what will be his follow on actions, now that he is tracking the issue.
I will get back to you as I have something more.
HASC Comm Director
Nov 14, 2019, 5:50 PM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor
Thank you. Please refer to my four questions. Just four.Then five days later, this:
Nov 19, 2019, 12:30 AM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor
Eleven days after my first message to his office, it seems safe to assume at this point that no response is going to come from Rep Smith.
Arnold RothThen after nearly three more weeks of no response, Arnold emailed this
Dec 9, 2019, 8:54 AM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor
Ladies and gentlemen,
A polite reminder to you that, as the parents of a US citizen who was a beautiful and caring 15 year old when she was killed in the bigotry-driven bombing of a pizzeria filled with children, we have tried to extract responses from a string of US political figures who have paid official visits to Jordan's king during the past six weeks.
There are surprisingly many such Congressional representatives. What's harder for us to understand is that not a single one of them has responded when we have reached out to their offices to ask if they know about King Abdullah II's brazen disregard for his kingdom's treaty obligations to the United States.
One of those, as you know, is the office and staff of Chairman Smith.
Our only leverage is the little we can achieve as ordinary parents, unaided by political alignment (of which we have none), reaching out to the media. But this does not mean we are powerless. If you take a look at our blog, you will see that we have managed to get the system to issue Federal charges and a $5M State Department reward offer and to have her added to the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list.
We will keep doing all we can until we see Ahlam Tamimi extradited from Jordan to a Washington court-room, nothwithstanding the totally bilateral cold shoulder we keep encountering. And despite the nauseating protection the bomber gets from Jordan's royal leader.
I am baffled by your indifference to all this.
The following day, Arnold emailed this final note:
Tue, Dec 10, 8:26 PM (6 days ago)
to Monica, Caleb, Connor, Justin, Caitlyn
None of you has responded.
As of now, we regard ourselves as free to publicize what has passed between us and your office.
The list includes some significant names. During October and November 2019, in addition to Rep Adam Smith, it included:
- Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
- Chairman Eliot Engel, House Foreign Affairs Committee [Source]
- Chairman Bennie Thompson, Homeland Security Committee [Source]
- Chairman Adam Schiff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence [Source]
- Congressman Ron Kind, House Ways and Means Committee [Source]
- Congresswoman Susan Davis, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
- Congressman Stephen Lynch, Chairman, House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security [Source]
- Congresswoman Elaine Luria, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi [Source]
- Congressman Jason Crow [Source]
And also here: "19-Oct-19: House Speaker Pelosi led an official visit today to the chief protector of our child's killer".
With few exceptions, mainstream editors and reporters in the news industry won't touch this battle we are waging as bereaved parents to see our child's killer stand trial in Washington on the US Federal charges she faces.
But we certainly plan to keep pressing on. We frankly don't understand how they view this. But for us, it's purely a matter of justice.
UPDATE January 12, 2020: They're back from the Congressional winter vacation and there has been not a single additional word from Rep Smith or his staff to us since the correspondence we published here. Nor from any of the other Congressional champions listed above.