Sunday, December 15, 2019

15-Dec-19: The Sbarro bomber trashes the ruler who protects her from the FBI

Tamimi, a wanted fugitive from US justice with a $5M reward on her head,
was interviewed in her home by Associated Press reporters two years ago
The Hamas terrorist who chose a Jerusalem pizzeria to bomb because of the many Jewish children inside whom she sought to kill - and succeeded - lives free today in Jordan. In an absolute monarchy, this can only be because Jordan's King Abdullah II wants it that way.

We suggest in this post why that shocking reality (a) is irrational from the king's standpoint, given what the bomber's values and goals are; and (b) involves much blurring and denying of facts and some disgraceful pretending.

The continuing freedom of the bomber, Ahlam Tamimi, is an almost-completely-unreported scandal. Though she’s officially regarded as an on-the-run fugitive by the US Department of Justice and is one of the FBI's 28 most wanted terrorists (there's an FBI website that lists them), she's not undercover, disguised or in hiding. She lives free-as-a-bird in the capital city of a country ruled by a close strategic ally of the United States.

Starting in January 2018, the US State Department began offering a reward of "up to $5 Million" for the capture and conviction of this Jordanian Islamist. But as we have come to understand, so long as she stays within Jordan's borders, she is safe from the US legal system.

That's not how the US officially looks at this. All its relevant agencies say she needs to be handed over to US law enforcement and taken to a Federal courthouse in Washington for trial.

So why doesn't that happen?

It's not because she's hard to find. Journalists tell us her home address in Jordan's capital is well known. Associated Press had no problem at all arranging a video interview which its people recorded in her living room a while back. Aljazeera has made her the focus of several adulatory, in-person, long-form interviews (here for instance) for its television and print media platforms. For five years starting in September 2012, she was the presenter of her own weekly made-in-Jordan television show, sponsored by Hamas and robustly advocating terrorism and the rights of imprisoned terrorists.

And it's certainly not because the authorities in Jordan are unaware of the seriousness of the charges against her. She has confessed repeatedly to killing Israelis and Jews and makes a point of explaining that she has no regrets at all. In front of the cameras, she has said she would "do it again today".

All well and good.

But the reason she doesn't have to cover her tracks or watch her back is because the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan explicitly protects her.

Tamimi found it expedient to praise Jordan's king when his courts blocked
her extradition to the US
She's a resistance hero in their lethally-dishonest lexicon. She managed to kill an extraordinary number of innocent Israelis and Jews, half of them children. Watch her make that clear in this video interview (starting about 1m30s into the clip). Among Jordanians at every level of their society, she enjoys incredible popularity.

The presenter of a popular TV show said it clearly a year ago on Jordan's most watched channel:
You, the people of the struggle, elevate the name of Jordan!” 
To be clear, "the people of the struggle" she's referring to are Ahlam Tamimi and her cousin Nizar Tamimi who is also her husband. He is aligned with Fatah; she is heart-and-soul for Hamas. Both are committed, unrepentant terrorists and convicted killers. And both walked free the same day in the catastrophic October 2011 Shalit Deal.

The life of our daughter Malki, just 15, was one of the many snuffed out by this hideous woman. That's the principal reason we are so sharply focused on her undeserved freedom and the almost entirely unreported details of how she stays free.

It's been a hugely frustrating process - but there has been significant progress. Since March 14, 2017, there have serious US criminal charges against her that if proven will likely mean she is locked away for the rest of her life.

The US has for decades had an extradition treaty with Jordan, and has called on Jordan to respect it in the Tamimi case as it has on every previous occasion when the US has invoked the treaty. Jordan refuses.

This has some puzzling aspects worth pondering:
  1. The United States which wants her arrested and extradited to Washington where she faces trial is blocked from getting what it wants. Yet the US is by far Jordan's largest provider of security and aid funds.
  2. Jordan's economy is "among the smallest in the Middle East, with insufficient supplies of water, oil, and other natural resources, underlying the government's heavy reliance on foreign assistance" [CIA]. A 2018 survey says of Jordan that its "Debt is 95 per cent of GDP. Unemployment was 18.7 per cent during the last quarter; youth unemployment has reached 35 per cent" [Irish Times]. And not surprisingly, "Public dissatisfaction with the economy is a pressing concern for the monarchy." [Congressional Research Service, December 4, 2019]
  3. Since it provides the safety net that keeps the kingdom going, the US could easily exert pressure of the kind that would bring Jordan to comply with the 1995 Clinton-era Extradition Treaty. But it doesn’t
  4. And Jordan, massively dependent on American largess, could be expected to overcome its enthusiasm for killers of Jewish children and hand this one over. But it doesn’t.
  5. Jordan's highest court declared the 1995 treaty unconstitutional and unenforceable ["20-Mar-17: The Hashemite Kingdom's courts have spoken: The murdering FBI fugitive will not be handed over"] nearlly three years ago. That sudden and somewhat surprising ruling came less than a week after the US Federal terrorism charges against Tamimi were unveiled by the Department of Justice in Washington. The court held that the treaty ought to have been ratified by the Jordanian parliament as required by the kingdom's constitution but wasn't. 
  6. We argued in an opinion piece ["30-May-19: Paris, Amman, Washington: Extradition and what it can reveal about governments and terror"] that Jordan's approach to another of its extradition treaties - with France - shows how unlikely that Tamimi case decision is. There's much that's quite absurd aboout Jordan's legal argument including the reality that its parliament (meaning its king) could have arranged the ratification at any time since 1995 and could do it today too. But of course they won't. And of course no journalist is going to point this out.
  7. The United States after initially avoiding any direct comment on Jordan's obstinacy finally said last month - openly, leaving little room for doubt - that its treaty with Jordan is valid and that it rejects Jordan's claims to the contrary: see "03-Nov-19: In Washington, a step towards bringing the Sbarro bomber to justice". Nonetheless the US continues to tolerate Jordan's open breach. For all practical purposes, the US is doing nothing to press for Tamimi's extradition.
  8. Jordan, while avoiding any official comment on the matter, has acted as if there is no obligation for it to extradite and still does. The treaty was invalid from the day it was signed in mid-1995 said a panel of its most senior judges. But its diplomats (special mention to Ambassador Dina Kawar and her colleagues in the kingdom's Washington embassy) and politicians, all evidently aware of the rules of this sordid game, avoided all comment. The media co-operated, and still do, by keeping the egregiious and damaging breach out of the news. With one significant exception - an excellent news report written by Amir Tibon, Haaretz's Washington correspondent just a month ago ["U.S. Rejects Jordan's Refusal to Extradite Hamas Terrorist Wanted for Trial"]. We quoted it at length in this post of ours: "12-Nov-19: On Jordan, the US and the children killed in a pizzeria". 
  9. Perhaps because of the Haaretz piece, Jordan's official silence on how it safeguards Tamimi ended just a few days later. We described how in an open letter addressed to one of Jordan's longest-serving cabinet ministers, Ayman Safadi: "13-Nov-19: Thank you, Mr Foreign Minister". In it, we focus on an Arabic news report published on November 12, 2019 in a prominent Jordanian paper, under the headline "Safadi: We have received US requests to extradite Ahlam al-Tamimi. We confirm our commitment to the law that prevents it". The title says it all, leaving not much room for doubt about where Jordan stands.
The fugitive bomber, Ahlam Tamimi, has been cheerily public about her gratitude, along with her family, to Jordan's court and especially to King Abdullah II himself, for saving her from trial in Washington. His Majesty, after all, appoints all the judges, replaces prime ministers at will, controls the army, and decides whether to extradite or refuse. It's a kingdom with a very distinct center of power.

But something's just changed.

In the past week, Jordan's boastful Islamist has gone public in the Arabic-language media with  comments sharply critical of her king and protector. In an op ed on Arabi21, an online, pan-Arab news platform, and without naming him, she compares King Abdullah II unfavorably with his late father, King Hussein. The claim of her December 3, 2019 piece is that Jordan's government is not doing enough to secure the release of twenty-some Jordanians held in Israeli prisons. Jordan's official media mouth-piece calls them "detainees". (We're preparing some background notes now about the monsters among them and how it happens that they are imprisoned. Arab calls to free Arab prisoners from their Israeli cells, as Tamimi herself was, invariably skip the part about what they did to earn their lengthy prison terms.)

Writing under the provocative title "If Hussein were alive, the captives would be free", Tamimi says Jordan ought to force Israel to do a deal, trading an Israeli who is currently on trial in Amman for the captive Jordanians in Israel:
What Jordanians cannot understand is why Jordan hasn’t considered swapping the Zionist infiltrator [Konstantin Kotov] in its custody for 21 Jordanian prisoners in the custody of the Zionist entity... The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan must bear in mind the words of His Majesty the late King Hussein Bin Talal, "Man is the most precious thing we have" to take an historic stance for its citizens locked in the prisons of the Zionist occupation... [Machine-translated from Arabic]
A Tamimi tweet (translated below) from an account that Twitter has
so far refused to shut down
In simpler terms, she's saying Jordan's current king isn't pressing for Jordanian prisoners to be released but if he were alive today, his father would have. In a country with an exceptionally unfree media, this is startling.

And it's gotten traction. Among the Arabic publications that have re-published Tamimi's op ed: Abu Dhabi NewsAl Hayat News (Jordan), Palestine Online (PA), Akhbar Al Balad News (Jordan), Sabq News (Saudi Arabia), Al BidaaShehab News (Palestine), Rawafed News.

She has been critical of Abdullah in her personal Twitter account as well. (As an aside, each time we have referred Twitter management to Tamimi's Twitter accounts, they have shut them down - in 2017, for instance. As of this writing, they are refusing to shut down this latest one.)

Some of the Arabic tweets posted by Tamimi ten days ago (all machine-translated):
  • How frustrated Jordanian prisoners feel for their government's indifference to their fate [Tweet
  • The Jordanian government seems to believe the Zionist narrative that our prisoners live in five-star hotels [Tweet]
  • Had it not been for the government of Jordan, the Zionist Prison Service would not have secured our prisoners [Tweet] [Archived]
  • When the Jordanian government intensified its tricks, it organized a visit to a part of the Jordanian prisoners in 2008 while the rest were ignored [Tweet] [Archived]
  • The lives of Jordanian prisoners in the occupation prisons is a suspended death [Tweet][Archived]
  • The permanent question is what did the Jordanian prisoners benefit from the Wadi Araba agreement? [referring to the still-current 1994 Jordan/Israel peace treaty] [Tweet[Archived]
The State Department's Rewards for Justice unit
currently offers a $5M bounty for Tamimi's capture and conviction
How confident of her position Tamimi must be if she can launch a public attack on the monarch who, more than anyone else, is the reason she is free today and living under his protective rule. She evidently knows things about public opinion in Jordan that don't get well reported in the West.

Then again, she might not fully realize that if King Hussein, who made the 1995 treaty with Clinton, were alive today (he died in 1999), Tamimi would today be in chains somewhere inside the US penal system? Thanks to his son and the law courts that serve him, she's outrageously free enough to publish op eds, to appear on pan-Arab TV networks and to be the poster child for Islamist bigotry, terrorism and the redemptive power of murdering Jewish children.

A larger puzzle is why do Jordan's king and his many backers and apologists in US politics [see "09-Nov-19: Another delegation from US Congress at Jordan's royal court. Did extradition come up?"] continue to make this possible? Why is Tamimi still free, still toxic, still living her dream?

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