Monday, February 22, 2021

22-Feb-21: On pursuing justice: A Merseyside perspective

Mr Cohen's article as it appears in the Jewish Telegraph
The following is an op ed by Johnny Cohen of Liverpool in the United Kingdom. Mr Cohen is a respected pillar - and veteran leader - of the city's Jewish community and currently serves as president of the Merseyside Jewish Representative Council.

His article is published under the title “Arnold’s anger over the release of woman who murdered daughter” in this past weekend’s Jewish Telegraph in the United Kingdom. 

Their online edition does not include this welcome piece. So with Mr Cohen’s permission, we are grateful to reprint it here.

* * *
In March 2014, the Liverpool Jewish Forum hosted a special visitor from Israel, Arnold Roth.

He and wife Frimet, parents of a profoundly disabled daughter Haya, had set up the Malki Foundation following the brutal murder in 2001 in the Sbarro Pizzeria massacre in Jerusalem of their older 15 year-old daughter Malki, one of two US nationals among 15 civilians, including 7 children and a pregnant woman, who were killed. 130 others were injured, many severely.

The Foundation, Keren Malki, enables families in Israel to provide quality care at home for children with disabilities, and later I spent a few years as a Trustee, until I found that time pressures did not allow me to do justice to that position.

Arnold’s talk concentrated on the foundation and on Malki herself, not on her murder. But he did express anger and disappointment that the woman who directed Malki’s murder, Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, was one of more than 1,000 Israeli-held security prisoners who had planned/perpetrated various terror attacks against Israeli targets, but were released from prison in exchange for Gilad Shalit in 2011.
Liverpool, March 2014:
Johnny Cohen (L) and Arnold Roth (R) listen intently
as Nicole Gordon of Malki Foundation UK describes
the foundation's work

Tamimi, the first woman ever to be admitted to the ranks of Hamas terrorists, had pleaded guilty in an Israeli court in 2003, did not express remorse for her role, and had received 16 consecutive life sentences and an additional 15 years in prison.

Legislation has existed for years empowering the US to arrest, try and convict terrorists in US courts under US law if they kill a US national anywhere. Malki was a citizen of the United States and also of Australia and Israel. Another victim of Tamimi’s Sbarro bombing, a young mother who is also an American national, remains comatose 20 years after the bombing.

In 1995, an extradition treaty was signed and ratified between the US and Jordan, accepted as valid by both countries. But in 2017, a Jordanian court ruled that Tamimi could not be extradited, because the treaty was never approved by the Jordanian parliament. Yet, back in 1995, Jordan had permitted U.S. agents to enter the country to arrest Eyad Ismail, a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing.

Jordan refuses to allow Tamimi’s extradition.

* * *
In 2013, the Obama administration issued a formal criminal complaint against Tamimi for “Conspiring to use and using a weapon of mass destruction against a US national outside the US resulting in death and aiding and abetting and causing an act to be done,” but never made this public.

Only in March 2017, did the Trump administration unseal it, saying “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.” The Justice Department formally notified Jordan of its request that she be extradited to face trial in Washington.

In 2018, the Trump administration offered a $5 million reward for the capture of the only woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Arnold and Frimet Roth have campaigned since 2012 for the United States firmly to urge compliance by Jordan to bring Tamimi to justice. As a result, in December 2019, President Trump signed into law a powerful sanction that potentially will stop U.S. foreign aid to Jordan because of its treaty breach.
Liverpool, March 2014:
Arnold Roth describes the Malki Foundation's
work to a student assembly at the King David School

Also, in April 2020, seven Congressional lawmakers wrote to Jordan’s Ambassador in Washington, noting how the sanction reflects “the deep concern of the Congress, the Administration and the American people” and affirming that “it is of the highest importance to US/Jordan relations that an outcome is found that honours Jordanian law while ensuring this unrepentant terrorist and murderer of innocent Americans is brought to US justice.”

Back in 2014, I did not imagine that Tamimi would remain free until today in Jordan, protected from justice by King Abdullah II, a ruler who Arnold now describes as “coddled by both the United States and Israel.”

Tamimi hosted a TV programme from Amman for 5 years, shown in America and elsewhere, and has given lectures and made numerous public appearances extolling the bombing. She has boasted that two of the factors leading her to pick the pizzeria as a bombing target were the crowds that gathered there during lunch hour and that she ‘knew there was a Jewish religious school nearby.’

How ironic that “tamimi” in Hebrew means innocent or unblemished, especially given that last weekend’s Torah portion Mishpatim, dealing with civil law, clearly specifies death as the penalty for murder.

* * *
We should remember that our Rabbis said that pursuit of justice is the cornerstone of Judaism, with which the Torah begins and ends. We cannot consider ourselves pious Jews without a firm commitment to making the world a more just and righteous place. When injustice stares us in the face, when Mishpat Tzedek (Justice and Righteousness) are being abused and forsaken, as Arnold argues forcefully, we must have the courage to stand up and speak out in pursuit of the ultimate tzedek to ensure that people are judged fairly.

Furthermore, our rabbis tell us that although 'you are not required to complete the task, neither are you at liberty to abstain from it.' So Arnold’s correct first step is to seek from the United States, Israel and Jordan acknowledgement of a gross injustice.

In this, he is surely exercising his rights under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which recognised human rights to be the foundation for freedom, justice and peace. Article 3 grants everyone the right to life and to live in freedom and safety, Article 8 the right to seek justice and Article 28 the right to a social and international order where the rights in the Declaration can be fully realised

* * *
What follows is based on an online talk by Arnold Roth last week “Terrorism: Seeking Justice for Its Victims” [YouTube].

Although the US insists that the extradition treaty is valid, little evident pressure has been, or is being, exerted by the US to elicit Jordanian compliance. Nothing has materialised from the 2019 legislation which created the powerful sanction to withdraw the significant aid given annually to Jordan. Referring to the billions of dollars of both financial and military aid, Roth suggests that “if the US administration insisted, there’s no way the Jordanians could refuse a request to hand over Tamimi.” He says that his repeated requests to discuss the issue with State Department officials have been “essentially ignored.”

There has been no concrete development since Henry Wooster became the Ambassador of the United States to Jordan in August 2020, despite his statement then that “all options are on the table.” The Office for Victims of Overseas Terrorism, a Justice Department agency tasked with assisting terror victims and their families, has also declined to comment.

Although Arnold made visits to, and had considerable dealings with, Jordan pre-2001, he has never received any concrete responses from the Jordanian Embassy in Washington to justify why Jordan's regime has been honouring, sheltering and celebrating a self-confessed, proud murderer of Jews since 2011. Or why the Jordanian parliament will not ratify the valid extradition treaty. He has not been granted a single interview to examine the issues.

The media, especially in the US, have failed to address jihadist hatred and barbarism and the FBI’s “most wanted terrorist.” Indeed media outlets have glorified Tamimi’s hateful ideologies, rather than focus on peace efforts. The influential BBC showed its hand from the outset during the week of shivah, mourning, for Malki in 2001. BBC Radio 4’s Today programme wanted to interview Arnold, but only together with a parent of a Palestinian suicide bomber. The BBC equated Arnold’s loss of a child as a victim of terror with the death of a “martyr” knowingly targeting terror.

Although Roth was at one time Israel’s representative at the UN re terrorism, nobody from the Israeli Government has openly analysed the issues or engaged with him since the Shalit exchange.

An Interpol ‘Red Notice’ (a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition) was issued in 2016, but with no development.

* * *
Johnny Cohen
[Image Source: Jewish Chronicle]
So what can we do?

If we have any contacts/influence, direct or indirect, especially in the USA, Jordan or Israel, call for Tamimi to be brought to justice to face Federal terrorism charges in a Washington DC court,
We must not let the Roth family down.

In the words of the prophet (Isaiah 1:27): "Zion will be redeemed through Justice

Friday, February 05, 2021

05-Feb-21: The Sbarro savagery: The on-air apology BBC Arabic broadcast to its viewers [Video]

This screen cap comes from the October 8, 2020 edition of BBC Arabic's hugely popular, five-nights-a-week news and analysis show, Trending. This edition contained a segment of about 6 minutes devoted to explaining the 'predicament' of FBI Most Wanted Fugitive Ahlam Tamimi, a boastful bomber of children including ours, whose husband, it was claimed, had been forcibly deported from Jordan on October 1, 2020. Outrage against the BBC's judgement soon followed.

In October 2020, we (Frimet and Arnold Roth who write this blog) protested what we see as the inexcusably disgraceful way the BBC's BBC Arabic unit aired a fawning and - in our view - completely misleading news segment about the Jordanian woman who killed our daughter Malki.

The details are laid out in these earlier reports (listed chronologically):

How the BBC handled the Ahlam Tamimi matter is also the subject of a front-page expose (photo on the right) in the current (February 3, 2021) edition of the London-based Jewish Chronicle
It's also at the heart of an incisive column, "Terrorism, Malki Roth’s murder and questions to answer for the BBC’s Arabic service" by Chris Blackhurst, published in Reaction. We have an extract from it below.

We mentioned in our February 4, 2021 post that BBC management, responding to the public outrage over what the clever people at BBC Arabic did when they sympathetically showcased the world's most wanted female fugitive Ahlam Tamimi, arranged for one of the BBC Arabic Trending program's presenters to deliver an on-air apology. This was broadcast on October 29, 2020.

There's much criticism we want to share about the apology's content and style. (To understand how we feel about what's said - and how it's presented - we urge you to pause now and read our previous post: "04-Feb-21: The BBC is sorry they showcased a terrorist. But do they actually grasp the problem?")

One of the puzzling aspects was that the apology itself was not stored away as video-on-demand on any of the BBC's media platforms. In other words, if you didn't see it in real time, there was no way to review it or draw your own conclusions afterwards. Once delivered, the apology immediately disappeared. (A few more words about that below.)

So this week, we asked BBC management to allow us to republish their highly problematic October 29, 2020 apology here on our blog. To their great credit, they didn't hesitate to give their explicit permission. 

Here it is:

As you see, it comes with no English sub-titles. But in sharing the on-air apology video with us, the BBC also sent us their translation of the Arabic. 

Here it is below - unedited, unchanged. The speaker is BBC Arabic’s Rania ‘Attar; one of Trending’s regular presenters since it got started in 2017.

On 8 October, BBC Arabic’s Trending programme item on social media reactions to a phone call made by Ahlam Tamimi to a Jordanian radio station. Trending then broadcast a short clip recorded with Tamimi.

This item was in breach of the BBC’s editorial guidelines. Tamimi was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to multiple life sentences in Israel for an attack that killed 15 civilians including eight children, she is on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list and is a member of an organisation proscribed by the UK and  several international governments.

Therefore, any contact with her should have been approved in advance by senior editors in the BBC, as per our editorial guidelines. That approval was not sought and would certainly not have been given.

This item should not have been shown.  It was a clear breach of our editorial guidelines and we apologise for it.

As we wrote in our February 4 post, this apology has some troubling features. 

  • It’s devoid of any on-screen headline. There is no photo of Tamimi or of the massacre or of anything else that would catch a viewer's attention. In fact, there's no visual link to convey that this is important. All that the audience experiences is the rapidly spoken flat-toned speechlet of the cold-faced presenter herself saying that it’s about Tamimi. There's simply no indication that this has any special significance.
  • On the positive side, it’s delivered by the same journalist who was the program’s presenter when they showcased the Sbarro monster a few weeks earlier. That on its own is important. But her tone is monotonous and uninflected, and her brief recitation lasts just a minute. 
Arnold Roth showed the BBC’s transcript along with the video clip to an expert Arabic-to-English translator who pointed out some problems. The biggest was in the opening words. 

On screen, the Trending presenter, Rania ‘Attar, speaking Arabic says this:
“Our viewers, I read you a message from the BBC”.
The transcript that the BBC gave us does not have those words or anything like them.

The omission leaves us feeling that the non-Arabic speakers at the world’s most important broadcast enterprise, including senior BBC management, don’t realize that this (using our words and not hers) is what their audience actually heard from Trending’s presenter:
“Friends, what I’m about to say is not me speaking but something the BBC people have obliged me to say. So here goes. We’ll get this out of the way in a minute and get back to our show.”

Image source: REACTION screen cap
And one more important thing to know about this on-air apology.

As CAMERA Arabic points out [here in Arabic] all of the Trending program's segments for October 29, 2020 were stored on the BBC website for some time after they went to air. But not the apology. 

If you go now to BBC Arabic's YouTube channel, you can still see all of those October 29, 2020 Trending segments today. But (and we hope BBC senior management see these words) you will not see the apology that went to air the same night. It alone is missing

As we noted above, Chris Blackurst, who served as editor of the UK's The Independent in the recent past, published a powerful takedown today in his first column for Reaction (background here). Since his excellent comments are behind a paywall, here's a brief extract:

Even though [Malki] died 20 years ago, [Arnold Roth's] pain at her loss is obvious and still raw. It does not diminish. Imagine, then, in October last year, him turning on theBBC Arabic TV programme, Trending, to watch the mastermind of her deathbeing interviewed and treated respectfully... 

Listening to Roth and observing his anger and hurt, you do wonder. One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter and all that... This isn’t about IRA versus Britain or Palestine versus Israel; it is about grief and torment. Here, there was not even an attempt at balance, no account of what happened, and Tamimi’s role. That one-sidedness was then compounded by the robotic, distanced apology.

Perish the thought that the BBC’s Arabic service is pursuing a political agenda at the expense of the Corporation’s mission statement: “To act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.”

Shame on you, BBC.

[From "Terrorism, Malki Roth’s murder and questions to answer for the BBC’s Arabic service", Reaction, February 6, 2021]. 

As we keep saying, and as respected voices like Mr Blackhurts's are reiterating, there is a serious problem here. Arnold Roth expressed it this way in his interview this week with the Jewish Chronicle:

There's a toxic culture at BBC Arabic... This isn’t journalism. It’s the advocacy of pushing their own hateful views. She confessed to all the charges in court and is unabashedly proud of what she has done. Yet BBC Arabic wants to treat her like Joan of Arc. I believe in senior management’s good faith but fear they don’t fully grasp the BBC Arabic agenda. The language barrier leads, I suspect, to the Arabic producers and reporters playing BBC senior people for fools.[Jewish Chronicle. February 4, 2021]

Since you are here at our blog, you likely know that we are in the midst of a years-long battle to see justice done. We want the woman who boasts - boasts! - of killing the children inside the pizzeria brought to justice in Washington. We believe the US Department of Justice wants to see her stand trial and we are doing all we can to expose the obstacles (about which we have never been explicit) and get them removed. 

What the BBC allowed to be done in shamefully platforming Tamimi and what she stands for is a microcosm of what we personally have encountered over and over again. And still do. 

The media part of this is particularly painful. Faced with a news story involving pure unadulterated evil in a very specific political setting, a broad spectrum of editors, reporters and commentators prefer to stay silent. 

Or, as the BBC did in October, put lipstick on a pig rather than deal with the crucial matters (of terrorism, justice, malfeasance, cover-up) at hand. 

Tamimi's years of illicit freedom and the fact that Jordan breaches its own extradition treaty with its most powerful and important ally in order to keep her safe and out of the reach of law enforcement is a time bomb. Failing to deal with terrorism, with those who do it and with those who ensure it endures and thrives has real consequences. 

And so does lethal journalism.

UPDATE February 9, 2021: And another valuable contribution on holding the BBC to account comes today from Jake Wallis-Simons in The Spectator: "What’s the problem with BBC Arabic?". A brief extract:

...it should come as a cause for concern – if not necessarily surprise – that a Jewish Chronicle investigation has uncovered evidence of shameful and systematic bias at the channel. The idea for the investigation came after a conversation with an Australian-born Israeli called Arnold Roth, 69, whose teenage daughter Malki was one of 15 people killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in 2001. The female terrorist who masterminded the attack, Ahlam Tamimi, was released from jail in a prisoner exchange in 2011 and went to live in Jordan, where she became a celebrated media personality.

Last year, BBC Arabic broadcast a fawning interview with the convicted terrorist. Incensed, Roth complained and won an apology from Jamie Angus, head of the World Service. Roth suspected, however, that this was not an aberration but a symptom of a rotten culture at the heart of the licence-fee-funded Arabic channel.

The investigation appears to confirm this view.

We're waiting to see where, if at all, this attention goes and who steps up to propose actual next steps. 

Thursday, February 04, 2021

04-Feb-21: The BBC is sorry they showcased a terrorist. But do they actually grasp the problem?

The presenter of BBC Arabic's Trending tribute to Ahlam Tamimi
introduces the fugitive terrorist [Image Source: Screen Capture] 

Arnold Roth writes: 

I’m not a broadcaster, not a journalist, not a policy-shaping official. But I have things I feel ought to be heard and known about one of the world's most important media platforms, the BBC. 

I am writing now because there is an important, sober and factual expose of the problems there in today's edition of a British weekly ["Shame of BBC Arabic as systematic bias revealed | A JC investigation shows a pattern of anti-Israel bias and inaccuracies", Jewish Chronicle, February 3, 2021]. 

I am quoted briefly there but want to raise some larger aspects of the deeply disturbing affair.

On November 9, 2020 I took part in an intense meeting with senior executives at the BBC. The subject was a complaint I had published some weeks earlier [see “Why does BBC‏ ‏promote my daughter’s murderer?” Arnold Roth/Palestinian Media Watch, October 13, 2020] about a Jordanian woman, a fugitive from US justice, being given the celebrity treatment before a global audience tuned in to a BBC show that has a huge following among Arabic speakers.

The meeting, by video conference, was at my request. 

I was and continue to be impressed that the senior executive at BBC World Service responded positively to me and without hesitation. He could easily have ignored or deflected what was clearly an uncomfortable proposal. That’s pretty much what the vast majority of media organizations and their editors and management with whom I have tried to engage have done during the past four years.

Is this because I am rude? Nasty? Perhaps, but I believe it has more to do with how I bring disturbing messages with me.

* * *

But first some needed background.

My daughter, Malka Chana Roth, a beautiful high school student with a sunny disposition, was one of 15 innocent people murdered in a pizzeria attack carried out by Islamist terrorists in the center of the city where we live, Jerusalem, on August 9, 2001. A sixteenth victim remains in a coma all these years later.

That Islamist terrorist, who was 21 years old at the time and responsible for selecting the target and planting the bomb, was a part-time news-reader at a Palestinian Arab TV station and personally reported the news on camera some hours after engineering the massacre. She went on to publicly call the savagery “my operation”. She has been explicit about how she wanted her victims to be children and took pains to ensure that is what happened. In this she succeeded on a monstrous scale.

My wife and I are battling to see the woman whom the BBC so generously profiled in its October 2020 broadcast, Ahlam Tamimi, locked up for life in a maximum-security prison. Dedicated investigators, prosecutors and agents in the US Department of Justice are too.

This is a battle we have waged – in the literal sense, a fight for justice – since February 2012. There have been meaningful achievements along the way, most notably the unveiling of terror charges against Tamimi on March 14, 2017. 

But what counts is that Tamimi remains free. She’s based in Jordan’s capital, living a life of privilege, influence, public adulation.

Jordan is a monarchy with friendly ties throughout the Western world. It happens also to be a tightly controlled state with famously unfree media. Despite the restrictive policies and willingness to silence the regime's critics, it has extended a rare degree of generosity to Tamimi. Most notably this has extended to the privilege of allowing her to host her own television program devoted to promoting terror and terrorists. 

That show, distributed and watched globally via Hamas satellite TV from a studio in Amman every week for five years, allowed Tamimi’s unique incitement to terror to reach Arabic-speaking audiences in virtually every country on earth.

The Jordanian woman not only spearheaded the atrocity and has never stopped boasting about it. She boasts on camera of slipping into Jerusalem multiple times by means of her media credentials, of selecting the target with great care; of personally planting the bomb. And in due course she celebrated the many deaths and injuries with manifest glee. On any reasonable view, this is a monster.

That along with her years of exposure via frequent public appearances – live and via television – in large parts of the Arab world have made her a global celebrity.

I can barely type those words. 

It’s a crushing reality made much worse by foolish political decisions and the moral cowardice of a long line of public and media figures. In practice, the outrage tends to be somewhat muted largely because, unless you are fluent in Arabic, you probably have had no idea till now.

* * *

This is not how we thought things would turn out.


Malki was just 15 years old - a lovely almost-young-woman brimful of musical talent, sweetness, empathy - when she stood with her lifelong friend Michal Raziel at the counter of the Sbarro pizzeria in the center of Israel’s capital on a hot school holiday afternoon in the summer of 2001.
Sbarro immediately after the attack [Image Credit:
Avi Ohayon and Israel Government Press Office]

The human bomb (a term I urge people to think about and use), a religious zealot in his twenties from a family of well-off Palestinian Arab restaurateurs, was brought right up to the shop’s entrance by Tamimi. She fled the scene before he walked in.

Had anyone stopped the young ordinary-looking man at the door to check the contents of the guitar case slung over his shoulder (but guards were not posted in those more innocent days), they would not have found a musical instrument.

Instead, it was filled with kilograms of tightly packed explosives, grotesquely augmented with a large quantity of human-flesh-ripping nails.

The explosion that ensued was thunderous. The outcome was utter carnage. An Israeli court convicted Tamimi on terror charges after she admitted to all of them.

But eight years later she walked out, thanks to a deal made by Israel with Hamas for the freedom of an Israeli hostage, Gilad Shalit, held by the terrorists for more than five years.

Tamimi returned to Jordan and her family and was received there as a conquering heroine and role model. Her wedding less than a year later was a live TV event.

For us, things then went downhill quickly. From bad to worse to literally unbearable.

In March 2017, the US unsealed terrorism charges against Tamimi. They had been issued in 2013, but at the request of the prosecutors they were kept confidential and secret by order of the court.

The charges were based on a Federal law that applies to acts of terror committed outside the territory of the US that cause the death of American nationals like my Malki.

The Jordanian was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list the same day and is still there – the second female ever to be on the list - along with a multi-million-dollar reward for her capture and conviction.

The Hashemite Kingdom response came, to our astonishment, just six days later.

Jordan’s highest court handed down a ruling that the extradition treaty signed by the late King Hussein -- the widely admired father of the current king -- with the Clinton Administration in 1995 was invalid. It was therefore unenforceable, the judges declared, and had been since the day it was signed.

Jordan, as a result, not only would not, but could not, hand Tamimi over for trial. So said the highest tribunal in the land.

For their part, King Abdullah II and his diplomats and ministers found it unnecessary to say a single public word. With two small exceptions, they have remained silent ever since. A handful of news stories blandly reported the legal decision. But no questions were ever asked by any reporters – questions like: how could Jordan protect an admitted mass murderer and, in the process, thumb its nose at its American benefactor? And what about the string of fugitive terrorists whom Jordan had in fact extradited to the US when so requested?

And that was that.

The woman who confesses happily (the videos show how literally true this is) to blowing up children in a fast-food place morphed into arguably the most protected fugitive alive.

* * *

With all its exhausting frustrations, the situation is not static.

Tamimi learned this past September that Jordan intended to deport her husband, Nizar Tamimi. He is a convicted murderer who was released in that same deal as Ahlam Tamimi despite having been sentenced to a life term.

On October 1, 2020 he appears - though the matter is not clear - to have left Jordan to take up residence in Qatar.
The US State Department posted a $5M reward, still in effect,
in January 2018 [Image Source]

It appears he went alone. His wife, the FBI’s Most Wanted. fugitive -- has said noisily and repeatedly that she calls Jordan home and will not leave. Let’s note that Qatar has no extradition treaty with the US or, as far as I can tell, with any other country. The Tamimis have both visited Qatar several times in the past few years and have said to the media that each of them was given residential rights there.

Ahlam Tamimi quickly embarked on a campaign demanding the restoration of her right to live in Jordan with her husband. The female fugitive who has boasted for years of spearheading a slaughter of children says her entitlement to have him back is enshrined in Jordanian law. That it’s a matter of elementary human rights.

With a perfectly straight face, she presents herself as the victim of an incomprehensible injustice.

It’s a message she delivered personally by calling-in to various Arab media outlets, including a high-profile talk-radio station in Jordan’s capital, Amman, called Melody FM.

On October 6, she phoned the presenters of a popular program there and managed to start explaining that she wanted to address Jordan’s king over the airwaves so he would know about the abridgement of her rights and would restore them.

The presenters, claiming there was an audio problem, abruptly cut her off.

The barely-disguised silencing of one of Jordan’s best-known voices instantly became a major issue. On social media, an Arabic hashtag meaning “Your voice is loud and clear, Ahlam Tamimi” got tremendous traction.

* * *

Which brings us to the United Kingdom.

Some 48 hours later, the daily edition of a prime-time current affairs TV show called Trending produced in London went to air on BBC Arabic, amplified by global distribution via YouTube.

The Trending program included a six-minute segment overviewing some of what I have just written. The core message was Tamimi’s demand for her infringed rights to be restored, delivered by the $5 Million woman herself speaking straight into the camera.

In a disturbing example of ill-conceived advocacy, what was conveyed is that here was a Jordanian woman, deprived of something fundamental, deserving support, sympathy, intervention.

A brief video clip overviewing the back-story then drove home to viewers the notion of Tamimi as a victim of cruel injustice, a detainee (that’s a key word) eventually released from imprisonment… and now, being victimized all over again by her own royal majesty!

What possessed the BBC reporters and producers to put this abomination to air? [1]

Screen cap from the Palestinian Media Watch
English translation of the Ahlam Tamimi appeal
promoted 
in the BBC Arabic program
From senior levels of the world’s largest broadcasting organization [2]the BBC has expressed its apologies. The media, including Britain’s major Jewish news platforms, have duly reported this. The Jewish News, another British-Jewish weekly gave this front-page coverage in October: "22-Oct-20: Whose business is it if BBC engages in advocacy journalism?"

It’s my opinion that the apologies mis-state what’s happened here. They are not directed at the actual problem and fail to adequately deal with how the problematic sequence of events presages a problematic future. The one carried in the UK Jewish News weekly put it this way:

“Following an editorial review, we found that this segment was in breach of our editorial guidelines and we removed the clip from our digital platforms last week. We accept that the segment should not have been shown and apologise for the offence caused.”
By my count, to this point the BBC has issued at least five Tamimi/Trending apologies. All of them are framed as a breach of the BBC’s editorial guidelines, as a failure to meet the BBC’s own standards, as a mistake.

All are inadequate because, failing to identify the problem they therefore do not address it.

Not one of them details Tamimi’s crime. Or her explicit and repeated admissions of guilt. Beyond that, they fail to ask what the British public needs to know: Given the BBC’s history, scale, standing and massive resources, how could this have happened?

BBC Arabic is a very serious media business with a weekly audience, according to the BBC’s own dataof some 43 million. Its Twitter account alone has 7.7 million followers. It broadcasts programs and hourly news bulletins 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on radio and via cable, satellite, streaming video and BBC News Arabic television. It has an impactful web-based presence on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Far from being some minor add-on to a mainstream media operation, BBC Arabic is a full-blown world-class competitor to the likes of Aljazeera, SKY News Arabic, Al Arabiya, Iran’s Alalam, and Arabic channels from France and Russia. Friends familiar with the Arab world have told me it’s considered the most credible and least problematic of the pack.

Then there’s the matter of public resources that have been placed at its disposal. In October 2017 (according to a BBC media release: “BBC Arabic launches Trending), the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – the UK’s foreign ministry – handed £291 million, equivalent to US $387M at today’s rate, to BBC management as part of the biggest expansion of BBC World Service since the 1940’s when all it did was radio.

BBC Arabic is the largest beneficiary of that funding. And the Trending program is singled out for special focus in the media advisory.

With more than 250 staff (some estimates say 400) in London and bureaus in (at least) Cairo, Baghdad, Ramallah and Washington DC, it’s seen as having a serious role in British foreign policy and projecting British influence into strategically important demographics.

Now zoom down to the BBC’s October apologies and you are left wondering how one of the world’s most important Arabic-language media platforms, controlled and funded by Her Majesty’s Government, could have thought it right to give the world’s most wanted female fugitive a sympathetic platform so as to portray her as a victim.

* * *

Some aspects that bear on that question:

  • The BBC Arabic Trending show’s presenter introduced Tamimi, the confessed bomber and fugitive murdering terrorist, by calling her “the Jordanian prisoner of Palestinian origin [who] has returned to the headlines.” That’s it – the entire description.
  • A subtle but related point: the Arabic word usually translated as prisoner is more accurately rendered as detainee – meaning a person captured or held for one reason or another. And maybe for no reason at all.
  • They made no mention of the death toll. Deaths don’t even get a mention in this report. The production people could have framed this as being about fifteen innocent people, Israelis and tourists, adults, children and infants, murdered by the Jordanian. And that more than 130 others were injured, some horribly. That the dead included a mother and a father and three of their children under the age of ten – five members of a family, leaving young, orphaned children at home. Instead, they breezily air-brushed all these realities out.
  • They did not say Tamimi specifically chose a pizzeria filled with children. Or that, based on previously checking out the area to plant a different bomb the previous month, she decided this was the most child-rich target to be found that day (school holidays) at that hour (lunch time) in Israel’s bustling capital.
  • They concealed how, for Tamimi, this attack, from the outset of its planning, was all about murdering Jewish children and mutilating (think of those nails) as many as possible.
  • That she has no regrets: “You know how many casualties there were? This was made possible by Allah. Do you want me to denounce what I did? That's out of the question. I would do it again today and in the same manner.” [Source: An earlier published interview]
  • With absurd delicacy, Trending whitewashes Tamimi as someone “accused of participating in the bombing”. Accused? Tamimi confessed to the Israeli court that tried her for terrorism, admitting all the charges against her and denying none of them. She was then convicted and sentenced. In a different context, calling her accused might be disingenuous. Here, it’s simply an attempt to deceive.
  • Tamimi has gone on to publicly admit, to boast about, to regale in the celebrity that comes with being the cause of so many horrific deaths.
  • This, along with her current freedom – a finger in the eye of the Zionists -  is what has made her the figure of adulation that she has become,  without any doubt.   
  • BBC Arabic did not say that Tamimi, speaking to a documentary film maker, framed the massacre as part of a religious struggle between Islam and the Jews.
  • They did not say Tamimi is currently the most wanted female fugitive in the world with a State Department reward of $5M for her capture and conviction.
  • They did not say that an Extradition Treaty was signed by the present king’s father and the Clinton State Department in 1995. That the US says it is perfectly valid today - despite a Jordanian court ruling that cites a dubious technical defect (and suggests no other basis) for its finding.
  • That no court in Jordan goes so far as to claim Tamimi is innocent or “accused” or suspected – only that, whatever she is, Jordan is not obliged to do anything. No legal source outside Jordan has supported the logic of the Jordanian judges.
  • The Trending people did not spend even a moment telling viewers about the unremitting misery that the destruction of so many lives – mostly of children and infants – inflicted on ordinary Israeli, American, Australian, French, Brazilian and Dutch families. Or that Tamimi smiled happily into the camera when informed by an interviewer how many children (eight) perished at her hands.  
  • They did not name Malki or Michal or any of the other luminous lives this beast snuffed out. For those packaging and marketing it, they don’t advance the tale of Tamimi’s victimhood. So, who cares?

It’s simply stunning that, in the considered judgement of BBC’s leadership, what happened here amounts to a mere breach of guidelines, some kind of technical error. As if they were saying, “Perhaps a rule or two may have been infringed. But now leave it to us to see it doesn’t happen again,” et cetera.

* * *

Totally missing in the BBC’s public statements on this scandal is any sign of introspection.

What, you might want to ask, is wrong with the BBC staffers who put this to air? Were they brought up to think this way? Is this what they learned in journalism school? Is this how the BBC trained them?

Malki, of blessed memory

I don’t know where the foreign ministry of the United Kingdom stands on any of this, though I wish I did. While they are the channel through which large slabs of tax-payer money are poured into BBC Arabic, giving it a voice of unmatched authority and tremendous reach, they have deferred to the providers of “Sorry, we’ll do better next time” to handle the flack.

The BBC incomprehensibly handing one of the world’s most powerful megaphones to a terrorist isn’t a procedural issue. It’s not a marginal disciplinary matter. And it is surely not some trivial search to find the most efficient words.

Reasonable observers making an honest assessment would see, I believe, that the Trending show and its well-funded staff have just served up an unblinking validation of Tamimi’s demand to be heard and supported. This blood-drenched celebrity jihadist, on the run from Interpol and the FBI, is promoted as an icon of resistance. The unimpeachable BBC brand is there to seal the credibility of the framing.

* * *

But there’s more.

While rejecting the steps my wife and I urged them to take in our meeting, BBC management in mid-November sent me a video clip along with an Arabic-to-English translation of what it says. It’s one more apology – but this time, one they told us went to air on the Trending program itself at the end of October.

As reported in today's 
Jewish Chronicle UK cover story
(Though they were good enough to email me the actual video of the on-camera Arabic-language apology, I am unable to find it found online now and I believe it's not there - not anywhere. There is also no mention of it on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere in BBC’s social media world. I certainly believe the BBC when they say it went to air. I’m just not sure how impactful it could have been and wondering how much impact they wanted it to have if they made it disappear the instant after it was delivered on-air. In any event, I have it because they gave it to me, and I plan to ask for permission to publish it.)

This apology has some odd features. 

It’s devoid of any on-screen headline. It has no photo of Tamimi or of the massacre or of anything else that would catch an audience’s attention. There's no visual link to convey that this is important. No sign other than the rapidly spoken flat-toned words of the cold-faced presenter herself that it’s about Tamimi. Or about anything else of significance.

On the positive side, it’s delivered by the same journalist who was the program’s presenter when they showcased the Sbarro monster a few weeks earlier. That on its own is important. But her tone is monotonous and uninflected, and her brief recitation lasts just a minute.

I showed the BBC’s transcript along with the video clip to an expert Arabic-to-English translator who pointed out some problems. The biggest was in the opening words. On screen, the TV presenter speaking Arabic says this:

Our viewers, I read you a message from the BBC”.

The transcript that the BBC gave me does not have those words or anything like them.

The omission leaves me feeling that the non-Arabic speakers at the world’s most important broadcast enterprise, including its top management, don’t realize that this (now expressed in my words, not hers) is what their audience heard from Trending’s presenter:

Friends, what I’m about to say is not me speaking but something the BBC people have obliged me to say. So here goes and we’ll get this out of the way in a minute and get back to our show.”

In the wake of a searing experience, watching incredulously as the killer of my child (roll those words around in your own minds) is presented to millions of viewers as if she were the overworked head of some worthy charity in need, the pro forma apology underscores how, sorry to say, I fear BBC management has lost the plot.

The professionals who formulate and deliver BBC Arabic content don’t need more rules, guidelines or direction. Whatever may be called for, it’s surely not another apology.

What’s just happened and what it says about a precious British resource is far too serious for that. Getting the world’s most important broadcaster to understand this ought to be at the top of some senior UK government official’s list of things that - once and for all - need to be gotten right at the BBC.

UPDATE February 6, 2021: If you have read this far, we want you to know of an update post ["05-Feb-21: The Sbarro savagery: The on-air apology BBC Arabic broadcast to its viewers [Video]"] with additional revelations that expose unacknowledged dysfunctionality at the BBC..

Footnotes

[1] I amplified my criticisms of what the BBC did in several other published pieces during October 2020. See  “‘BBC lost its moral compass’ by giving mass murderer a platform” [Jewish News UK, October 21, 2020]. And “Father of murdered daughter condemns BBC for giving platform to Ahlam Tamimi” [Jewish News Syndicate, October 14, 2020]. And via a televised interview with SKY News Australia [“Father of murdered child ‘nauseated’ BBC gave terrorist killer a platform”, October 18, 2020]

[2] 22,000 staff of whom 16,000 plus are in public sector broadcasting). Add in part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff and it’s 35,402 [Wikipedia]

Thursday, December 17, 2020

17-Dec-20: Message from Australia: The killer of the innocents is not forgotten, not forgiven

Questions asked in Australia's Senate [Image Source]
Malki, our daughter, was born in Australia. She was the youngest of our children, not quite three years old, when we came to Jerusalem. 
The result in terms of her identity was that while she acquired Israeli citizenship in accordance with the law, she arrived here as a dual US/Australian national.

That, and the fact that her father was born in Melbourne, meant that there was and continues to be more than the average degree of interest in Australia about the circumstances in which she died at the age of fifteen - murdered in a terror attack on a pizzeria filled with children - and about what subsequently happened to the confessed killer.

We've written numerous times about how deeply embittering it has been for us to see political and communal leaders avert their gaze when we come to speak with them about helping us bring the bomber to justice. (She lives in Jordan and she's not behind bars. She also had her own television program there, beamed throughout the world, for five years. It promoted terrorism.) But the way the news industry has buried the unusual circumstances of the killer's ongoing freedom is, years after we lost Malki, right at the top of things that trouble us deeply.

That's just one of the reasons why it's so welcome to see a prominent Jewish community leader in Melbourne publish an op ed today in the newspaper of record in Australia's national capital about how and why justice needs to be done in the wake of the Sbarro massacre.

The core question in Jeremy Leibler's cogent article ["Australia has a role to play in seeking justice for murdered teen", Canberra Times, December 17, 2020 and archived] is what can the Australian government do to obtain justice for the murder of Malki Roth, our greatly missed oldest daughter. (Mr Leibler is the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia.)
From the Canberra Times

But it's also a road map for how we wish people genuinely motivated by justice, no matter where they are, would look at the vexed issue at the center of our lives since 2011.

For an Australian readership, Leibler carefully lays out the background: the massacre at the pizzeria which he correctly says was "orchestrated by Jordanian terrorist Ahlam Tamimi"; the murder of Australian-born Malki and the many other innocents; Tamimi's subsequent release as part of a prisoner exchange that saw hundreds of terrorists released in exchange for a young Israeli soldier abducted and held hostage by the terrorists of Hamas. 

Then this:
In the years since her release, Tamimi has been living freely in Jordan and has become quite the celebrity, the host of a popular television program that she uses as a platform for continuing to boast about how many Jewish children she has murdered. Tamimi appears on the FBI's list of "most wanted terrorists" and the US Department of State has issued a $US5 million reward for information leading to her arrest. 
But Jordan has so far refused to co-operate, despite having an extradition treaty with the US and despite having just this year deported Tamimi's husband, Nizar al-Tamimi, in an apparent and so far unsuccessful effort to encourage Ahlam to leave of her own volition.
The only explanation Jordan has offered for its non-cooperation is to question the validity of the extradition treaty. In reality, the obstruction is assumed to be based less on technicalities of international law and more on the political maneuvering of the nation's all-powerful King Abdullah II.
In a country where more than half the population is Palestinian, there is little doubt that a decision to hand over a Palestinian-Jordanian killer of Jews to the US would prove unpopular...
Jordan's King Abdullah II talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott 
Morrison on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Sep 2019
He points out that, unlike the United States, Australia has no bilateral extradition treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom. But this does not mean Australia is without options:
...We can and should support the US in its efforts. We can and should take every opportunity to advise the Jordanian government that we have neither forgotten nor forgiven the murderer of an Australian child.
And let's be clear that Australia's intervention would make a difference. It would make it easier for Jordan to comply with America's request to extradite Tamimi, citing increased international pressure. It would also encourage the incoming Biden administration to maintain pressure from their end.
He goes on to refer to questions asked in Australia's Senate about whether Australia's foreign ministry - the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - has conveyed to the Jordanian government
...our concern that Ahlam Tamimi is feted for her role in killing 15 people in Jerusalem, including an Australian national, and if not, why not and will it do so in the future?
We encourage you to click on the source and read the brief Canberra Times article in full. 

To his great credit, Jeremy Leibler has framed in common sense terms an approach that any public official or community organization anywhere can and ought to emulate. 

They can help those who make decisions in the Kingdom of Jordan see that there are pressing and serious questions about the troubling immorality of Jordan's harboring, sheltering, megaphoning and empowering of the savage who killed the children in the pizzeria. 

And they ought to be answered.

Friday, December 04, 2020

04-Dec-20: An editorial and Jordanian deception

There's an editorial in today's Jerusalem Post under the heading "Jordan is Israel's essential, and often neglected, partner | Israel and Jordan are on the same side on these issues, but clearly, Israel has not invested enough in the relationship".

No one's name is attached to it so it appears to be, as in fact it describes itself, as "By JPOST EDITORIAL". 

A brief extract

Jordan has a historic relationship with Israel and signed a peace treaty in 1994 but the peace has grown cold. Part of this may be personal, and speaks to the relationship between King Abdullah and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who seemingly do not get along. While Jordan-Israel ties are said to be good when it comes to regional security issues, publicly there is almost no manifestation of the peace deal between the countries. This is unfortunate, because...

During the visit to Jerusalem two weeks ago of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, we ran a large display advertisement on the newspaper's front page [described here: "19-Nov-20: Putting justice back on the agenda"] Not only did we get no response of any sort from Pompeo, but no one in his substantial entourage or in the press pool accompanying him commented publicly on our fairly prominent message. That most of them (at least) saw it is highly likely. 

Call us disappointed - though by no means surprised given the history of obtuseness and silence by officials and (to a surprisingly large extent) media in three countries - the US, Jordan and Israel - since the US Federal charges against Jordanian fugitive Ahlam Tamimi were unsealed nearly four years ago ["14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and her extradition is requested"].

We were disappointed again when the Jerusalem Post published an exclusive interview with Pompeo the next day. Tamimi and extradition were not mentioned.

That's relevant background to why we posted this message on the Jerusalem Post's website this morning after seeing the editorial we just mentioned. Here's what we wrote;

An unobjectionable editorial line. There are obviously multiple sides to this not-so-simple issue. 

But it's hard for me as the father of an Israeli child (a handful of us here in Israel can make the very same statement) murdered by a woman who today enjoys massive acclaim and support among Jordanians, to overlook how the vexed matter of Jordan illicitly refusing to extradite Ahlam Tamimi to Washington is missing from the analysis.  

Tamimi, a fugitive from US justice who has never been in hiding for a day in Jordan where she lives, is wanted in the US to answer to US terrorism charges. And the extradition treaty between the US and Jordan is utterly clear: the US wants her and Jordan has to hand her over. 

But Jordan has put out a smokescreen of deception that has enabled it to escape the burden of handing her over. 

Editorials like this one that carefully step around the Ahlam Tamimi issue - actually that conceal it - are a not-insignificant part of how the Jordanians keep getting away with it. 

The issues that pain me in this are not legal or political or even journalistic. They're moral.

Arnold Roth
thisongoingwar.blogspot.com

If we get any sharable response, we will publish it here. 

UPDATE January 12, 2021: No response. The editors at the Jerusalem Post stay silent.

Monday, November 30, 2020

30-Nov-20: A long-obstructed step towards justice: Norway is extraditing a Jordanian fugitive to Paris

Undated photo of the Goldenberg restaurant in Paris' Marais Quarter
This is about a murderous attack nearly four decades ago on people seated in a Parisian restaurant. Why are we writing about it now?

The answer comes in a report that Norway's government said Friday it is going to extradite to France a man suspected of taking part in the carnage. 

For people like us who are fighting to see the confessed bomber of a pizzeria filled with children - who happily boasts that this was her personal doing - and who has astoundingly lived the life of a princess in total freedom for the past nine years, this is an important development. 

It's also inspirational. And it ought to be a big deal for everyone concerned with justice.  

First the background: Around noon on August 9, 1982, a gang of Islamist terrorists threw a grenade into the dining room of Chez Jo Goldenberg, a Paris restaurant packed with about fifty lunch-hour patrons. They then directed their machine gun fire point blank at the innocent patrons guilty of being seated at the tables of an eatery known for its Jewish cuisine. They murdered six people - four French nationals and two American tourists - and injured 22 others. 

The atrocity was completed in some three minutes. At the time, it was called "the heaviest toll suffered by Jews in France since World War II". The killers were not found, according to the police. In fact years went by before there was a break in the case.

Because there are both parallels to and lessons for our efforts to see Jordan arrest and extradite our child's killer - the unspeakable Sbarro Massacre Monster, it's a case in which we are vitally interested We have written about the hunt for the perpetrators before. See

Here's what Reuters reported on Friday ["Norway to extradite suspect in 1982 attack on Paris Jewish restaurant"] in a news story datelined Oslo:

Norway will extradite a man to France who is suspected of taking part in an attack that killed six people in a Jewish restaurant in Paris 38 years ago, the government said on Friday. At least 20 others were wounded in the bombing and shooting assault on the Jo Goldenberg restaurant in the Marais quarter in August 1982. In 2015, arrest warrants were issued against three former members of the Abu Nidal Organization, a splinter group of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a source told Reuters at the time. The suspects were identified long after the attacks because of statements from other former members of the Abu Nidal group under a French judicial process that maintained their anonymity, the source said. One of the men, named as Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed, lives in Norway, where he moved in the 1990s. Norwegian authorities rejected an original 2015 extradition request for him on grounds that, in most cases, it would not extradite its own citizens. Norway recently adopted new pan-European regulations on arrests, leading French prosecutors to seek extradition of the suspect for a second time, and he was arrested in September. The Ministry of Justice cleared Abu Zayed for extradition to France on Nov. 12 but the decision was later appealed to the full Norwegian cabinet. “The appeal was unsuccessful and today the decision was final,” a spokeswoman for the justice ministry said in an email to Reuters. Now in his early 60s, Abu Zayed has denied any involvement in the case. In 2015, he told the Norwegian daily VG he had never been to Paris. The Jo Goldenberg bloodshed, at the time, marked the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in France since World War Two and came amid a wave of violence involving Palestinian militants.

So with this development, people now know this Abu Zayed has lived a quiet and comfortable post-massacre life in Scandinavia for two decades. But what became of the other terrorists? 

We know what's happened to at least one of them. He's sheltered by a friendly Arab government that brazenly refuses to hand him over and, of course, has zero interest in bringing him to any kind of local justice in its own courts. Given our focus here on how our child's murderer has lived a charmed life for the past nine years, this sounds like Jordan, right? 

Right.

Goldenberg's right after the 1982 atrocity
In 2015, a year after those anonymous Abu Nidal terror group informants tipped off the police in France (and we're guessing that one or more of them were members of the same gang), Marc Trévidic, an examining magistrate at the Tribunal de grande instance de Paris, specializing in fighting terrorism. issued arrest warrants for several suspects. 

One was Nizar Tawfiq Mussa Hamada, a Jordanian. 

The other, reputedly the mastermind behind the attack and also a Jordanian, was Souhair Mouhamed Hassan Khalid al-Abassi, known in crime circles as Amjad Atta.

Ben Cohen writing for Algemeiner last year ["Jordanian Refusal to Extradite Paris Kosher Restaurant Killer to France Renews Concern Over Amman’s Terrorism Policy"] takes up the narrative, explaining that France turned to the Jordanian authorities asking for them to honor the France/Jordan extradition treaty that, by no coincidence, had been signed in the middle of 2015. 

The Jordanians rebuffed them. Ben goes on to refer to how 
France is not the only country to have been turned down by Jordan after submitting an extradition request in connection with terrorism. In March 2017, the US Department of Justice issued a criminal complaint against Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, who ferried a Palestinian suicide bomber to the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem on August 9, 2001, in her car. In the subsequent bombing attack, 15 people lost their lives, including two US nationals. US Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord described al-Tamimi as “an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims.” A $5 million reward has been offered by the Justice Department for information leading to the arrest of Al-Tamimi, whose name can also be found on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. So far, however, Jordan has refused to extradite al-Tamimi, who has lived openly in Amman since she was released in a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas on October 28, 2011, to the US.
Jordanian Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed at his court hearing in Oslo 
The article goes on to quote some comments that put Jordan's shameful evasions into context:
“The thwarted Jo Goldenberg extradition shows that you can either have healthy bilateral relations based on justice, openness, and honesty,  or you can pander to the pro-terror forces inside Jordan,” [Arnold] Roth said in an email. “You cannot hope to have both.”

Roth, who has been advocating with his wife Frimet for al-Tamimi’s extradition to the US, said that the Jordanians were being given a pass by Western allies eager not to jolt the kingdom’s political stability.

“There seems to be a sense that Jordan’s dear friends in the West need to cut the country some slack, not press too hard and do what needs to be done, so that its widely admired anti-terrorist monarch, King Abdullah II, can get on with the job of building a stable, prosperous Western-facing state,” Roth remarked.

At the same time, Roth said, al-Tamimi had been turned “into a pan-Arab hero from her safe perch in Amman, Jordan’s capital.”

Through her TV and internet appearances, Roth said, al-Tamimi had “become an inspiration to the powerful and very large forces inside the kingdom (and far beyond it) who want more bloodshed and conflict, more killing of Israelis and Jews.”

We stand firmly by what we said. If anything, what we have learned in the past year reinforces our views even more strongly.

Jordan continues to be given an absurdly generous pass by its Western allies. This is self-defeating and encourages the very strong forces at work in the kingdom that want more bloodshed, more conflict, more killing of Israelis and Jews. The groundswell of support for Ahlam Tamimi ("Ahlam we hear your voice") since October 1, 2020 when her husband was expelled by Jordan's authorities ["04-Oct-20: The Sbarro bomber's husband has been forced to leave Jordan: A snapshot of developments"] is one clear and public expression of how that works.

As for the fugitive mastermind, al-Abassi/Amjad Atta, an Agence France Pess report some years ago said an Interpol Red Notice had been issued against him directed at Jordan's police. Said to be 62 years old at the time and an "elderly man who works as a construction worker", he was born in Zarqa, a Jordanian city located 30 km east of Amman and home to "one of the largest camps for Palestinian refugees in Jordan". AFP notes it's also "known to be the hometown of Jordanian Abu Musab Al-Zarqaoui, the late leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq".

They fail to mention that Zarqa is also where Ahlam Tamimi, the Sbarro bombing monster who murdered a larger number of innocent Jews than Amjad Atta did, was born in 1980. 

A year after his arrest, according to an AFP report at the time, Jordan's judicial system ruled that Amjad Atta could not be handed over to the French for trial because 
"at the time of his arrest an extradition deal between Jordan and France had not entered into force, the source says. The deal was signed in 2011 but became effective only in July last year, after Abassi, also known as Amjad Atta, was released on bail. Jordan has also refused to hand over a second suspect, Nizar Tawfiq Hamada, 54, because the statute of limitations concerning the criminal allegations against him expired, the source says."

Jordan's contemptuous disdain for the war against terror and terrorists, for its relations with allies and for the law of extradition all get far too little international attention. People ought to know.