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 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 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 | | 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 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 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.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

21-Mar-19: The Sbarro Massacre mastermind worries she isn't getting enough sympathy

The Moroccan interview [Source]
Some far-off day, we may write a book about how it feels to grieve for the lost life of a beloved child murdered at the age of 15 by a violent religious fanatic - and to see other people place the mastermind of her killing on a hero's pedestal.

That's been our fate since Ahlam Tamimi, a Jordanian woman who was Hamas' first-ever female terror agent, returned in 2011 to her homeland  and began living the life of her dreams.

Jordan is where she was born and raised. It's where most of her family live. Jordan is also the kingdom whose rulers have taken what seem to us to be huge foreign relations risks by sticking a finger in the eye of their most important ally, the United States.

How they did this is something about which we have written and spoken publicly a lot. Jordan has an extradition agreement with the United States. It's been in place since Bill Clinton was president. Several Jordanians were extradited to the US and convicted and imprisoned.

But there's evidently something about a Jordanian woman who identifies as a Palestinian Arab and whose targets were not only Israelis but also mainly children that somehow changes the degree to which Jordan respects its bilateral obligations.

The bottom line: Jordan's highest court ruled in March 2017 that Tamimi cannot be extradited to Washington because (this takes genuine hutzpah, given the realities of power in Jordan) that treaty is not only unconstitutional now but has been since the day it was signed by the two governments. We won't go into details but the problem on which Jordan's Court of Cassation based its finding is a highly technical, narrow and trivial one that Jordan could have easily fixed and still can. It chooses not to.

And so instead of standing trial in Washington and facing life imprisonment, this FBI Most Wanted Terrorist who confesses to killing 15 people now appears - more and more often - in public Jordanian forums, in Jordan's mass media and in the newspapers and websites and television  programs of Arabic media outlets throughout the world. (For more about the events of the past two years since the US charges against Tamimi were unveiled, see "14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?")

If you're a regular visitor to our blog, you may know how distressed we are by the sense that the US government could do, but is not doing, more to press Jordan and bring this loathsome and very dangerous woman to justice.

You might also know that we have been campaigning for the US to take more active measures. This has entailed more and more overtures to public officials and members of Congress [see "03-Feb-16: In Washington DC, victims of terror and the search for justice"] and a lot of behind the scenes activity. There has been meaningful progress but still not enough.

Out of the blue, in the midst of yet another official King Abdullah II visit to Washington nine days ago, one of the US president's senior advisers took up the Extradite Tamimi cause publicly. He did this via Twitter ["12-Mar-19: Yes, Americans surely ought to know that Ahlam Tamimi lives free today"], tweeting
Americans ought to know that Ahlam Ahmad al-Tamini [sic], a convicted Hamas terrorist who, together with others, murdered in cold blood 15 people including 7 children, lives free today. See details here:
Two days ago, Tamimi took advantage of an interview with a Moroccan newspaper, to push back.

The interview was of course published in Arabic. What follows is a fisked English version (and it's not machine translated) in which the fugitive engages in a mixture - by now familiar to us - of outright lies, self-aggrandizing exaggerations and a small handful of intriguing revelations.
I am not a terrorist but a girl who defended her land and America does not frighten me: Interview | 2019-03-19 | Yusuf Bannasiriya in AlYawm24
Last Tuesday, the American president’s delegate to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt attacked the Jordanian journalist of Palestinian origin, the freed prisoner in the Wafaa al-Ahrar (Gilad Shalit) deal, Ahlam Tamimi. He said via a tweet on Twitter that Tamimi “killed more than 15 people and is living free today” while demanding information on her whereabouts in exchange for a financial reward.
This Ongoing War says: Actually Mr Greenblatt isn't demanding anything other than that Americans ought to know. Why they surely should. The link he includes in the tweet explains - in English but unfortunately not in Arabic - that the Rewards for Justice unit at the US State Department has for more than a year now been offering a $5M prize for information leading to her capture and conviction in the United States. (The far more important Arabic version of that State Department poster is online here.) Tamimi and her Moroccan interviewer are probably not familiar with the reward for the sad reason that no physical posters have actually been posted anywhere. That's an issue for another time.
In this context, the Al-Yawm 24 website interviewed this young Palestinian woman who is wanted by Washington, Ahlam Tamimi, and who was arrested by the Occupation after her involvement in a martyrdom operation in 2001 after which she was sentenced to 1,600 years of imprisonment, before being released in the prisoner exchange deal in 2011.
This Ongoing War says: They call her a Palestinian but the record shows she was born in Jordan, was educated there right up until the point where she decided to cross the Jordan River and pursue journalism studies at a Palestinian Arab university, and lives there today with the man she married there seven years ago ["22-Jun-12: A wedding and what came before it"]. Calling the massacre of Jewish customers (Tamimi says she went looking for Jews) "a martyrdom operation" is a cognitive warfare strategy. Tamimi is no martyr and has made clear repeatedly that her goal was murder - the murder of Israeli children. The weapon she planted at Sbarro to achieve her hideous aim was a human bomb - a young religious fanatic with an explosive-laden guitar case on his back; at the critical moment, he blew up the guitar case, himself, the Sbarro pizzeria and many unarmed, unsuspecting humans. She brought him from Ramallah, accompanying him through the Israeli security checkpoint and along the streets of central Jerusalem. Neither he nor she sought to commit suicide but to kill people. The reference to "1,600 years of imprisonment" is inaccurate: she was serving 16 concurrent terms of life imprisonment with a strong judicial recommendation that she never be paroled or otherwise released. In the event, she was in prison for barely 8 years after being sentenced.
Q. What is this all about and what is the story behind the American demand of handing you over to Washington?

Tamimi: Mine is an old story that goes back to September 2016 when Interpol circulated the red memo all over the world in an attempt to capture me and hand me over to America due to two cases having been opened against me by the families of the dead Israelis who had dual American citizenship and who died in the Jihadi operations which I waged in Jerusalem. These were successful and from that day on, the statements kept coming, the most recent one of which is Greenblatt’s statement claiming that I am living free and that there is an American reward site which is offering 5 million dollars to whoever provides information on me.
This Ongoing War says: The FBI and the US Department of Justice sought and got an Interpol Red Notice some time before September 2016 while the US Federal criminal complaint against Tamimi was still under seal i.e. secret. Interpol doesn't have its own officers. Interpol says the Red Notice is "a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action... A Red Notice is an international wanted persons notice, but it is not an arrest warrant." The Jordanian police were obliged to act on it and did. (They have since made clear the case is closed from their standpoint, and they don't plan to bother her again.) She was taken into custody for a single night and then released in the morning. She was then, we believe, told by Jordanian government officials to maintain a low profile, as a result of which she stopped presenting the inciting-to-terror, Hamas-produced TV show ["Breezes of the Free"] she had recorded every week in Amman for nearly five years.
Q. Who issued the previous statements?

Tamimi: Among these were official statements issued by the US Attorney General who said that I was a terrorist and a criminal, and she demanded from Trump, at the beginning of his presidency, that he arrest me. She said: “Go and practise your duty as president and arrest this terrorist who is currently living freely in Jordan”, in addition to statements issued by the Jewish society which laid two cases against me in the Washington court.
This Ongoing War says: To see what three of the highest-ranking law enforcement officials in the US, including Mary B. McCord, the then Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security,  actually did say, go to the Department of Justice Media Release dated March 14, 2017 and headed "Individual Charged in Connection With 2001 Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem That Resulted in Death of Americans". Prof. McCord called Tamimi "an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims... When terrorists target Americans anywhere in the world, we will never forget – and we will continue to seek to ensure that they are held accountable."
Q. What is your response to the latest statements of the US delegate to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt?

Tamimi: Firstly, this person is the consultant to the American president Donald Trump, so he is not a nobody. In addition, as I indicated before, he is the US peace delegate to the Middle East. His mission therefore is as someone who is supposedly working towards peace and who is speaking from this starting point, while his statements conflict with the expected mannerisms of this role. How can we speak about peace and complete calm while he leaves the terrorists of ISIS and the terrorist citizens within America to shoot at schools and kill civilians, and then he comes to speak against a Palestinian having Jordanian citizenship and whose role it was only to defend her homeland in a resistance against the longest invasion in the world, as the Palestinian people have done.
This Ongoing War says: Tamimi, a highly-ideological savage who grins right into the camera when asked about the children she bombed to pieces, assumes the mantel of striver for peace. A defender of her homeland. A resistance fighter. She assumes (and she may be right) that she's addressing an audience for whom war crimes, the cold-blooded, calculated murder of innocents and the deliberate hunting down of children all come with no moral stain. That what she did is perfectly understandable. The question for the rest of is do we want to live in a world like that; or allow her to live free in our world and promote those ugly ideas.
I say to Greenblatt after his very racist statements that I am not a terrorist. I am a girl who defended her land and country and who based on this was falsely sentenced by the Zionist entity. I spent 10 and a half years in prison and then left according to an internationally recognized deal.
This Ongoing War says: We're all racists in Tamimi's view of the world. She's feted, celebrated, given public podiums to make her hate-filled, ultra-violent speeches but we need to understand, she says, that she's a girl (actually 39 now, and 21 when she masterminded the massacre) and that having confessed to the Israeli court that sent her to sixteen life terms, she was "falsely sentenced". She implies that an "internationally recognized deal", presumably the release of 1,027 terrorists in a Hamas-directed extortion of Israel in the 2011 Shalit Deal, means she's off the hook. But of course she's not. We have a copy of the legal papers she was given prior to being released that say she and the others are having their sentences conditionally commuted subject to them not re-offending. Tamimi herself, in every public appearance she makes, reminds us how central the idea of murdering Israelis is to her existence and values. She incites to terror as easily as most of us breathe. The terms of her commutation mean she became immediately subject to re-imprisonment in Israel as soon as she landed in Jordan. Separate and independently from that, she faces serious terrorism charges in Washington.
I consider these statements to be very racist and unjust Nazi-like statements. They are illogical and indicate that this person, Jason Greenblatt, is working in favour of Zionism as he is using the same rhetoric as the Zionists, at a time when he supposed to speaking about peace as he is the peace delegate.
This Ongoing War says: As a communicator, Tamimi is no idiot. She knows her audiences. Slinging accusations that the guy giving you a hard time is a Nazi and/or a racist evidently works in her circle. She doesn't need to explain; hurling the insults is a goal in itself. And of course peace is very dear to her ice-cold heart.
So your accusations against me are false, and I shall continue to defend my rights until my last breath. Neither Greenblatt nor others scare me. I am going on with my life. I live as a free citizen in Jordan, I am completing my studies, and I have not done anything against Americans as they are claiming.
This Ongoing War says: She's not defending her rights. She's not deflecting any accusations. She's not denying any actual charges. None of this is surprising; she has admitted them for years. She doesn't have to defend, deflect or deny because the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is already shielding her, doing an effective job of keeping the Feds away. As for "I have not done anything against Americans", she had a different version two years ago ["24-Mar-17: Our daughter's smiling killer: "Shocked" that US "decided to go after her for no obvious reason""].
Q. How do you consider the timing of these latest statements? What is the motive behind them?

Tamimi: I consider the timing to have been calculated and intentional because it coincides with the visit of the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Washington, and with the meeting held between King Abdullah and Greenblatt, the US foreign secretary and the White House consultant. So what happened? And what was said behind the scenes in this meeting for Greenblatt to come out with these statements? This is the question that I pose. I have Jordanian citizenship, and these statements coincide with King Abdullah’s meeting with them, and with the nature of the discussions held by these three people. They spoke of the deal of the century and consolidating Jordanian American bilateral relations in combating terrorism – two lines under the word terrorism – and then these statements were made. I shall leave the readers to do their own analyses, and for the analysts to analyse the timing of these two events.
This Ongoing War says: This is revealing. Tamimi is solidly aligned with Hamas. At the same time, she claims to be grateful to King Abdullah II and his "steadfast" law courts for keeping her safe from the DOJ. But there's been considerable friction between the Islamists and the Hashemites, sometimes more, sometimes less, since he became king. Saying "I shall leave the readers to do their own analyses", Tamimi is inviting criticism of the king that, if it came out of her own mouth, would cause her problems with Jordan's government - the members of which the king appoints and removes at will. Important note: Tamimi would probably hate for people to start commenting on how ungrateful she actually seems to be to the king.
Q. How is your daily life going in light of this situation?

Tamimi: I am banned from travelling to any country in the world because my name has been registered at all the airports since 2016. I am banned from making Umrah. I used to work in Lebanon after I was freed from prison but unfortunately my travel ban has caused my source of income there to come to a halt. In addition, my freedom of movement within Jordan itself is limited. My life as a freed prisoner is now restricted. It has placed limitations on my life and it is frustrating. In other words, I have not benefited anything from this freedom with these American demands hovering over me. As for my life becoming unstable, there are many continuous threats that make you live cautiously with your eyes open. There is no comfort and quiet.
This Ongoing War says: Life's a bitch. She's a mass murderer and wanted by Interpol but really, all she wants is comfort and quiet, to visit Saudi Arabia, to go about her jihad-focused business. And they just won't let her. She's a victim of American demands. What did she ever do to deserve all these restrictions?
After the financial reward was offered this week, I have had to beware of any person I see in the street whom I do not know. He could be a bounty hunter or someone who was hired to take me. At any moment, I could be forced into a car and taken to America, due to the American embassy being located in Jordan. These are some of many dangers which unfortunately have been revived in my life.
This Ongoing War says: The State Department reward was announced more than a year ago ["31-Jan-18: There's now a $5 million reward for bringing the terrorist Ahlam Tamimi to justice"]    and not, as Tamimi says, "this week". She blew eight children to pieces but asks for sympathy because of "dangers which unfortunately have been revived" in her pampered life of fame and influence. You could choke from reading this kind of thing. We could. We do.
Q. In March 2017, Jordan, through the Court of Cassation, rejected the American administration’s decision that you be handed over to Washington. What do you expect now from the Kingdom of Jordan?

Tamimi: My story has become a political one, and it therefore needs to come to an end through the strong American-Jordanian alliance in a one minute joint session, through understandings taken between King Abdullah and President Donald Trump, so that this issue can be laid to rest and so that the two cases are withdrawn from the Washington court.

Jordan has naturally taken a very important first step when it provided me with a judicial decision and submitted it to America. They told them that they cannot and will not hand over Ahlam Al-Tamimi to you. But in the wake of the financial reward being offered, this subject needs to be brought to an end from its political roots, by the King and the Jordanian government.

I therefore direct a message to them that it is necessary to bring this case to an end so that I can live freely and calmly, and so that I can go travel to perform Hajj and Umrah, and also so that I can find job opportunities.

It is important to me that I not remain restricted because humanitarianism dictates that I should not live in this manner.
This Ongoing War says: We literally stay awake at night worrying that the self-serving, immoral trash-talk that this barbarian articulates here is going to move people outside the Arab world to reach deep inside themselves and stand up for Tamimi's "rights". Jordan's King Abdullah has never spoken publicly about Tamimi, at least not for the record. But people in his entourage have been in touch with Tamimi's handlers and as a result she's confident enough to say to a newspaper interviewer that the king "needs to bring" the American pursuit of her "to an end" because she's entitled to "live freely and calmly". The tragedy is that she lives in a region where people actually do think like that. 
Q. The anniversary of the killing of American Rachel Corrie, who was mowed down by a military bulldozer belonging to the Israeli army in March 2003, was observed two days ago. How do you interpret the American administration’s overlooking of her murder?

Tamimi: Rachel Corrie is not the only American who was killed the Zionist occupation without the American administration lifting a finger to hold the Zionist entity accountable for what it had done. There are other activists who had American nationality who come to Palestine for the sake of peace, who join the popular resistance and who believe that it is the right of Palestinians to live. A large number of them have been shot in the legs and have been sometimes arrested due to their support of the Palestinian people.

What we notice in the case of Rachel Corrie is that her case has passed without any accountability for those who killed her, or even condemnation of the crime. If this proves anything, it proves that the Zionist entity is in control of the American system. We all know that biggest lobby in the American congress is the Zionist lobby which controls all the decisions. We also know that the Deep State within America is the Zionists who are the capitalists. No decision is made and no president elected without their prior approval. 

If we were to comment as well, then let us comment on all the events that have taken place in America, such as when Americans shoot up schools, university students and when such people are condemned, they are labelled as mentally unstable. This is terrorism which kills citizens in your country, Oh America. As for me, I am defending my country and my land. You want to hold me accountable while you do not hold the Zionist occupation accountable for murdering Rachel Corrie, nor for their shooting at American activists. You do not hold those who intentionally kill innocent people in your country accountable.
This Ongoing War says: Tamimi, a TV reporter and far from stupid, has a solid grasp of what Hitler and Goebbels meant by the Big Lie and how to use it. She's drunk deeply at the well of classic antisemitic tropes and "knows" that in America, it's the Zionists who are in charge and as a consequence Americans don't know how to deal with terrorists who set out to murder large numbers of innocents. If America ever wants to take advice from an Islamist zealot who brings a deep familiarity with murder and lethal bigotry, Mrs Tamimi will be a leading candidate.
Q. How do you evaluate the Moroccan position, be it the official or popular position towards the Palestinian resistance?

I always look to the popular position in any country. When speaking about Morocco, it is a valuable position and we truly appreciate it...
The article goes on but from this point Tamimi devotes herself, speaking to a Moroccan news site, to praising Morocco. She appreciates their support of the "resistance" in Gaza (this means Hamas) and of Khaled Mashal (who used to run Hamas). But for all her high regard for them, she doesn't support Morocco's relatively constructive ties with "the Zionist entity".

The real take-away here is her toxic influence. This dedicated murderer, now living free as a bird, not in hiding, not on the run, in the capital of an Arab kingdom reckoned to be a US ally, has standing, celebrity and access to the media. What Tamimi says in her explosive region of the world has the potent and quickly-out-of-control flammable impact of a lit match in a field of tinder-dry brush.

And even though much of what she has to say is plainly distorted, dishonest and provocative, we have not yet seen even a single instance where her appearance in the Arabic-language media includes criticism or even any serious analysis of the woman, her narrative or her views.

We wish this would disturb other people as much as it disturbs us.

21-Mar-19: The Secretary of State is in Jerusalem

Malki z"l
Frimet Roth writes:

Even on Purim, our most joyous holiday, our murdered daughter Malki is in our thoughts and our hearts ache with longing for her.

Perhaps this photo of her dressed up as a farmer girl for Purim when she was about ten, her gentleness and innocence radiating forth, will reach U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is only several kilometers away from us as I type this in Jerusalem.

While he is not scheduled to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah on this Middle East tour (as far as we know), he has officially done so already several times, most recently just ten days ago in Washington. 

But never once has Pompeo raised the fact that the king refuses to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, the FBI Most Wanted Terrorist who has on her hands the blood of fifteen innocent Jews, including Malki. 

Never once has he demanded that King Abdullah cease affording refuge (as he has since 2011) and adulation to that self-confessed Hamas mass murderer.

Never once has he publicly mentioned the US Federal criminal indictment of Tamimi and the demand for her extradition by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2017. 

And never once has he made continued U.S. support for the King's precarious regime contingent on Jordan's compliance with its signed 1995 extradition treaty with the U.S.

We implore Secretary Pompeo to secure justice for the three American victims of Tamimi's evil. We have waited far too long for that meager comfort.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?

Two years ago today, on March 14, 2017, the United States Department of Justice made an official announcement about the legal status of the woman who for years has boasted of bombing Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria and everyone in it.

Fifteen people were killed there that hot summer afternoon in 2001. One was our daughter, Malki. A sixteenth victim has been alive but unconscious all these years. Many more people were left maimed with injuries of a hideous nature. Tragedy layered upon tragedy and more tragedy.

We - Frimet and Arnold Roth who write this blog - campaigned for years for terrorism and murder charges to be brought against Ahlam Tamimi after her freedom was extorted by Hamas in the catastrophic Shalit Deal. We wrote, spoke, cajoled, lobbied, and with help from some very fine people even took it to the US Congress ["08-Feb-16: Terror is now a legitimate career option in Pal Arab society but its enablers barely notice" - text and video]

And then, with almost no advance notice, serious terrorism charges against her were suddenly unveiled two years ago to the day. The official text of that March 14, 2017 announcement is online here.

Tamimi, a woman of 21 at the time she admits she carried out the massacre, is Hamas’ first female terror operative. Today she is 39, married to another convicted and unrepentant murderer, a mother, a Jordanian celebrity, a prominent propagandist for Islamism and jihadist ultra-violence, and a disgracefully well-paid beneficiary of the Palestinian Authority's notorious Pay-to-Slay program.

In Jordan, she does not live in hiding. As far as we know, she never has.

Her address there is well enough known that she is frequently interviewed by the media; and not only by the Jordanian media or the Arabic media but by respected global news agencies like Associated Press that have sent reporters to her home to interview her on video. Anyone who seriously intended to take her into custody would have no difficulty locating her.

She has boasted publicly, repeatedly and for the record that she took the central role as the planner and executor - we would say the mastermind - of the Sbarro pizzeria massacre. She has claimed obscene credit - while smiling broadly - for the fact that so many of those killed were children. She has made clear that this was her intention in choosing the target site and the attack time. As monsters go, it's hard to imagine one as calculating and unapologetic as Ahlam Tamimi.

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, 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.

To set the stage, that March 14, 2017 DOJ announcement starts with a statement of the basic facts:
A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, also known as “Khalti” and “Halati,” a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S., resulting in death. The charge is related to the defendant’s participation in an Aug. 9, 2001, suicide bomb attack at a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two U.S. nationals. Four other U.S. nationals were among the approximately 122 others injured in the attack. Also unsealed today was a warrant for Al-Tamimi’s arrest and an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. The criminal charge had been under seal since July 15, 2013... Two Americans were killed and four injured.
It goes on to describe Tamimi bluntly but perfectly accurately as
an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims.
Then follow these stirring sentiments:
“The charges unsealed today serve as a reminder that when terrorists target Americans anywhere in the world, we will never forget – and we will continue to seek to ensure that they are held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “I want to thank the many dedicated agents and prosecutors who have worked on this investigation…” “We have never forgotten the American and non-American victims of this awful terrorist attack,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “We will continue to remain vigilant until Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi is brought to justice. “Al-Tamimi is a terrorist who participated in an attack that killed United States citizens,” said Assistant Director in Charge Vale. “The bombing that she planned and assisted in carrying out on innocent people, including children, furthered the mission of a designated terrorist organization. The FBI continues to work with our international partners to combat terrorists like Al-Tamimi and hold them accountable.”
Two full years, as we said, have passed since the unsealing of the charges against Tamimi. Today is the anniversary. Despite the charges and despite the strong words of US justice officials, she remains at large and a potent voice for more Islamist terror.

Paraphrasing, our letter lists some of what has happened in these past two years. (Some important points in our letter are not included here - we may disclose them at some future time.):
  1. First, what has not happened: Tamimi is not in custody, not restricted in her movements, not subject to police attention or legal impediment, not pushed to the margins of Jordanian society. She is not on the run. She lives out in the open, free as a bird, living a high profile life from her base in Jordan’s capital city. Her profile continues to become more prominent in Jordanian society. We absolutely agree with those who say she has evolved into a pan-Arab media celebrity and a respected mainstream figure in Jordanian society.
  2. Tamimi has never expressed regret. Nor has she in any way denied her key role as the mastermind of the Sbarro pizzeria bombing.
  3. We have not found a single instance – not in Jordan, not in any other part of the Arabic-speaking world – where she has been publicly rebuked for her boastfulness over the massacre of innocent Israelis, or even criticized in the mildest way. We have never seen or heard of a single case where Tamimi was criticized or challenged to justify her appalling deeds by an interviewer. She is never contradicted despite her obviously self-aggrandizing exaggerations and her many outright fabrications. She is a hero.
  4. Mere days after the March 14, 2017 DOJ announcement, Jordan’s Court of Cassation - the highest court in the kingdom - declared the 22 year old extradition treaty between the US and Jordan invalid under Jordanian law. It found on narrow, highly technical grounds that it was unconstitutional and had been so since the day it was signed during the Clinton Administration. It directed that Tamimi could not be extradited by Jordan.
  5. The Jordanian government itself made no public statement of any sort in the wake of the court’s ruling. No intention to prosecute her under Jordanian law or to remedy the alleged procedural defect in the treaty with the US has ever been publicly expressed by any official Jordanian source.
  6. It's clear that, unless pressed robustly by its allies, King Abdullah II’s government will simply continue to view the Tamimi chapter as now closed.
  7. Is Jordan's view about the validity of the treaty right? Having sought advice from experts in these matters, we say no. Among numerous factors: (a) The flaw in the extradition treaty, if it exists, was one that Jordan’s government could have cured in a simple and straightforward way at any point in the past two decades. But did not and has not; (b) The court had not made a finding of invalidity in other cases of extradition to the US before Tamimi’s case; (c) And as a result, Jordanian fugitives have been extradited to the US several times, most recently in 2015. (We know the details.)
  8. The official view of the United States, not surprisingly, is that the Jordan/US extradition treaty is and has since 1995 been in full force and effect. The treaty is listed in the authoritative “Treaties in Force” document published by the US State Department and posted online here. The treaty with Jordan appears on page 252 of that listing.
  9. Multiple extraditions from Jordan to the US have been requested, and carried out, since the treaty entered into force. Something about a Jordanian calling herself Palestinian bombing a restaurant filled with Jewish children somehow puts the Tamimi case into a different category for the Jordanians.
  10. Tamimi serves as a prolific advocate for Arab-on-Israeli terror. Starting in late 2011, immediately after she returned to Jordan from her Israeli prison cell, she traveled widely among the Arab states, addressing enthusiastic audiences with a message blending incitement and vile bigotry. We have tracked her appearances closely. She demonstrates a special interest in focusing on high school and university students. 
  11. For nearly five years beginning in March 2012, she was the presenter of her own produced-in-Jordan, terrorism-focused weekly TV show beamed globally from Amman to the world. Made under Hamas auspices and beamed to the world via a Hamas satellite TV channel, the toxic program suffered no evident interference from Jordan’s government. It was heavily promoted and its reach was amplified by hundreds of Internet streaming video sites. 
  12. Tamimi discontinued her frequent traveling outside Jordan’s borders – and ended her central role in that TV show - after being very briefly (for one night) taken into Jordanian police custody on the basis of an Interpol Red Notice request in 2016. At about the same time, she was warned by the Jordanian authorities to lower her profile; it appears she complied, a least for a while. These developments received no publicity at the time they happened.
  13. But starting in March 2017, following the court decision that lifted the threat of extradition, Tamimi once again elevated her public profile significantly, once again speaking in public forums, appearing with senior Jordanian politicians including a former Jordanian prime minister. She has made numerous well-publicized speeches, most recently at Jordan’s central Trade Union compound, a venue where meetings of the government itself take place. 
  14. In October 2018, she and her husband received a “This is Your Life”-like tribute on a widely-watched program called “Caravan’, broadcast on Jordan’s highest-rating TV station ["24-Nov-18: How Jordan's mainstream media showcase a couple of role-model jihadist murderers"] After recounting Tamimi’s years in an Israeli prison and subsequent release (but not the murders), the presenter of that prime time Jordanian TV show exclaimed to Tamimi and to the audience: "This is admirable! You, the people of the struggle, elevate the name of Jordan!" It is a tribute that seems consistent with all the other indications we got from the Jordanian media.
  15. At the time of the March 2017 DOJ announcements, we learned for the first time that Jordan had already for some years been resisting DOJ efforts to get them to extradite Tamimi to Washington. 
  16. Within days of the March 2017 announcements and from numerous interactions, it became clear to us that figures within the State Department sought, and continue to seek, to deflect US pressure on Jordan in the Tamimi matter. This has a personal dimension; we see ourselves as being subjected to unacceptable treatment that no one in our position should have to overlook or suffer. It's a deeply unsatisfactory situation and one that exacerbates our ongoing stress and pain as bereaved parents wanting to see the triumphant, admitted murderer of our dearly loved child brought to justice. 
There are multiple disturbing ways in which Jordan's opposition to the Tamimi extradition is being represented partially and not entirely accurately to the American public and to law-makers.

Here's an example. US law, since 2004, has required the Secretary of State to provide Congress by April 30 of each year with “a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation”. This annual report is entitled Country Reports on Terrorism. As in previous years, the 2018 edition says: “Jordan remained a committed partner on counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism in 2017…”

Then, for the first time ever, it goes on to very briefly address the Tamimi extradition:
A U.S. criminal complaint was unsealed in March charging Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the United States resulting in death. The charge is related to her participation in an August 9, 2001, suicide bomb attack at a restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two U.S. nationals. Four other U.S. nationals were among the approximately 122 others injured in the attack. Also unsealed was a warrant for Al-Tamimi’s arrest and an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. Jordan’s courts have ruled that their constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals.
That last sentence is astounding; it's also quite revealing. Why does this important State Department report to Congress not go on to explain, which is certainly the case, that while Jordan says it's invalid, the United States of America says the exact opposite and clearly means it. The US says the 1995 Jordan/US Extradition Treaty is fully in effect and always has been since it was signed into effect. Isn't that worth noting in a report to Congress? Shouldn't the diplomats and officials of the US State Department at least say the US does not agree with Jordan? And that the US believes Jordan is wrong?

It's an exceedingly strange matter on which to remain silent.

Tamimi has become an iconic figure, a person of huge influence in a region where terrorism is a daily and manifest threat to public stability. She lives a life to which no one with a violent history of savagery like hers should ever be entitled.

While we believe in the importance of a peace-oriented strategic relationship with Jordan and its ruler, we also believe in the central and pre-eminent role of justice. We continue to hope we will still see it in the case of our child’s killer.