Monday, December 16, 2019

16-Dec-19: Like talking to the wall

Congressman Adam Smith in Amman (Source: Jordan Times)

Back on November 7, 2019, we noticed a Jordanian news report that described an official visit to the sumptuous Al Husseiniya Palace of Jordan's ruler, King Abdullah II, by a senior US Congressman, Rep. Adam Smith and an accompanying delegation.

What follows is about our interaction with him and his staff. Read on and you might agree this does the law-maker little credit. 

The same can be said of other members of the US Congress we name below.

Smith, a Democrat, represents Washington state's 9th Congressional district. Before that, he served in the Washington State Senate. He has been a member of the House Armed Services Committee since 1997. A figure of some influence, he currently serves as its chairman.

The details of his formal visit to the royal palace appeared on the website of Jordan's embassy in Washington DC (archived here in case it gets removed). They also appeared on the website of Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court. And a little later in the government-controlled Jordan Times. If it got any US media coverage at all, we haven't seen it. Very likely, there was none.

We noted and commented on the visit here.

(And if you're looking for the names of the US law-makers who have ignored our pleas to raise the Tamimi scandal or to tell us why they avoided mentioning it in their meetings with King Abdullah II in his palace, we have listed eleven of them at the bottom of this piece.)

Smith's was one of three Congressional Delegation visits to the royal place in Amman that we know of between the first week of October and the first week of November. There may have been others we didn't spot. We're new to the business of tracking the activities of US Congress people when they're outside the US. The US media seem to pay them little to no attention.

So why is this an issue for us?

Arabic and English reward posters issued in 2018
by the US State Department
If you know anything about this blog, you may be aware of how Jordan refuses to extradite the Islamist savage who bombed the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem

And that this flies in the face of years of Jordan complying with the bilateral extradition treaty with the US that has been in effect since 1995 during the Clinton/Hussein era.

Also: we're not objective and have never claimed to be. Our 15 year old daughter Malki, an American citizen, was one of the many children inside that pizzeria who were blown to pieces.

Ahlam Tamimi, whom we consider a monster, has taken credit for years: on television, in the print media, on multiple social media platforms, and in live appearances before appreciative audiences. She says she selected the site and that the large number of Jewish children inside at that hour was the key factor. She takes credit for personally bringing the bomb (a human, enwrapped in explosives and ugly little human-flesh-ripping nails) to the door of the pizzeria just before fleeing from the site to save her own skin. She calls this "my operation". 

She has never denied the charges and has publicly and repeatedly confessed.

Our disappointment at the repeated failure to act of a long and bipartisan string of US politicians and officials to whom we have turned is exacerbated by our fury at the brazenness of the Jordanians whose bad faith in this matter is, as we see it, beyond all doubt.

It's highly unlikely that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will ever voluntarily extradite this woman. If the mainstream media paid attention - but they do not - more people would understand how much of a national hero she is for Jordanians. On the other hand, no one seriously doubts, given the history and the realpolitik, that the US can ensure Jordan hands her over to face trial in Washington.

But it does not.

Meanwhile we're pained by how US/Jordan relations roll right along with most of the players blithely choosing to ignore the grotesque elephant in the room. That Jordan's king is a frequent honored visitor inside the US Congress (including some of its most important committees) and the White House, and that his palace in Amman is a remarkably popular destination for a stream of elected US officials are all matters that deeply embitter us.

So here's what's triggering this post.

On Friday November 8, 2019, Arnold Roth emailed this letter to Representative Adam Smith's staff:
Caitlyn Cole
Office Manager
District Office of Rep Adam Smith
101 Evergreen Building
15 S. Grady Way
Renton, WA 98057

Dear Ms Cole,
I am writing on a matter of justice in the personal and literal sense. 
In 2017, the Department of Justice unveiled terrorism charges against a Jordanian woman, Ahlam Tamimi. She is the confessed murderer of my daughter Malki. My child was 15 and a US citizen when her life ended in a Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria.
Jordan immediately rebuffed the US request to extradite her even though there has been a valid and active extradition treaty between the two countries since it was signed during the Clinton Administration's days. 
Jordan's highest court ruled, just days after the US charges were announced against Tamimi, that the treaty is invalid and unconstitutional. Not only that, but it has always been invalid and unconstitutional siince the day it was signed. 
An announcement made less than a week ago by the State Department [described at] makes plain that the US rejects Jordan's interpretation. 
In the meantime, Tamimi lives free in Jordan's capital, not in hiding, a celebrity whose constant acts of incitement to further Islamist terror atrocities are amplified by her frequent and essentially unfettered access to Jordan's media.
Mr Smith's visit to Jordan, reported today in the Jordanian media (see, comes on the heels of one by Speaker Pelosi in October and one by Rep Jason Crow a few weeks before that.
It prompts me to ask these questions:
  • Was Mr Smith briefed by the State Department or the US embassy in Amman prior to meeting the king and Jordan's foreign minister?
  • Did the briefing/s touch on US efforts to extradite Tamimi to Washington DC?
  • Did Mr Smith urge his hosts to ensure compliance by Jordan with its treaty obligations to the US?
  • Is Mr Smith willing to speak with me about this after he returns?
My questions are for the record, and I do plan to publicize them and whatever response your office shares with me.
Arnold Roth
Separately but at about the same time, we reached out to a contact in the US State Department to find out about briefings given to members of Congress who come calling on Jordan's king in his palace. In effect, what we asked was whether Representative Adam Smith was told ahead of sitting down with the king about Jordan's breach of its extradition treaty obligations with the US. And did he know of the years of US efforts to extradite Ahlam Tamimi to Washington?

The answer we got was cloudy and unhelpful. (We will publish it at the appropriate time. It was not confidential.)

Just after sending the letter, Arnold posted this tweet:
A mildly encouraging reply arrived by email later that day from Representative Smith's staff:
Fri, Nov 8, 8:35 PM
Hi Arnold,

Thank you for reaching out! I’m looping in Monica Matoush and Caleb Randall-Bodman from the HASC communications team who can help answer your questions. I’m also adding Chairman Smith’s Communications Director Justin Weiss for his awareness.

If there’s anything else I can assist with, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Caitlyn Cole
District Scheduler/Office Manager
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09)
Thanks, Caitlyn. And then another from Caleb Randall-Bodman from the same Smith team:
Nov 8, 2019, 9:12 PM
to Frimet, Arnold, Monica, Caitlyn, Justin
Thanks Caitlyn,
Arnold - thanks for your questions. The Chairman is actually still in transit back from the trip. We’ll make a point to touch base with him about your questions when he is back home, and we will be in touch in the coming days. 
We waited four days for a proper response. Then Arnold emailed this:
November 12, 2019
Dear Mr Randall-Bodman,
I appreciate your acknowledging my email to Rep Smith. 
As you may realize, my wife and I are campaigning to see delayed justice done in the case of our murdered daughter. The questions in my letter are framed as yes/no to encourage a timely response. 
We would appreciate knowing if an answer is on the way.
Arnold Roth

Arnold waited two more days and then sent this:
Nov 14, 2019, 11:16 AM
to Caleb, Frimet, Monica, Caitlyn, Justin
Ladies and gentlemen,
If there is a reasonable justification for us to keep waiting for an answer to our straightforward questions, please let us know what it is. 
But if we don't hear it from you today, we plan to press forward on the assumption that we are once again being ignored.
The only reason we are dealing with Members of Congress is because our child's murderer, an FBI Most Wanted fugitive terrorist, is living a dream life instead of being extradited to Washington.
We can deal with excuses and political differences. Being ignored is unacceptable. 
Arnold Roth
Later the same day, this arrived from Monica Matoush on behalf of Representative Smith:
Nov 14, 2019, 5:03 PM
to Caleb, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor, Arnold, Frimet
Good Morning Mr. Roth,

I apologize for the delay.  Chairman Smith returned to DC just yesterday and was immersed in meetings, hampering my ability to engage with him on this sensitive subject.

In speaking with staff who accompanied him on the trip they were not in room, so they are unable to advise if the subject of Ms. Tamimi’s extradition was part of the discussion.

We will make a point today to discuss with Chairman Smith whether he had any prior knowledge to the specifics you’ve mentioned below, what information, if any, our State Dept provided him and what will be his follow on actions, now that he is tracking the issue.

I will get back to you as I have something more.

Monica Matoush
HASC Comm Director
Arnold waited four days. Then emailed this:
Nov 14, 2019, 5:50 PM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor
Thank you. Please refer to my four questions. Just four. 
Then five days later, this:
Nov 19, 2019, 12:30 AM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor 
Eleven days after my first message to his office, it seems safe to assume at this point that no response is going to come from Rep Smith. 
Arnold Roth
Then after nearly three more weeks of no response, Arnold emailed this
Dec 9, 2019, 8:54 AM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor
Ladies and gentlemen,
A polite reminder to you that, as the parents of a US citizen who was a beautiful and caring 15 year old when she was killed in the bigotry-driven bombing of a pizzeria filled with children, we have tried to extract responses from a string of US political figures who have paid official visits to Jordan's king during the past six weeks. 
There are surprisingly many such Congressional representatives. What's harder for us to understand is that not a single one of them has responded when we have reached out to their offices to ask if they know about King Abdullah II's brazen disregard for his kingdom's treaty obligations to the United States. 
One of those, as you know, is the office and staff of Chairman Smith.
Our only leverage is the little we can achieve as ordinary parents, unaided by political alignment (of which we have none), reaching out to the media. But this does not mean we are powerless. If you take a look at our blog, you will see that we have managed to get the system to issue Federal charges and a $5M State Department reward offer and to have her added to the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list. 
We will keep doing all we can until we see Ahlam Tamimi extradited from Jordan to a Washington court-room, nothwithstanding the totally bilateral cold shoulder we keep encountering. And despite the nauseating protection the bomber gets from Jordan's royal leader.
I am baffled by your indifference to all this.
Arnold Roth
Nothing other than the sounds of being ignored.

The following day, Arnold emailed this final note:
Arnold Roth
Tue, Dec 10, 8:26 PM (6 days ago)
to Monica, Caleb, Connor, Justin, Caitlyn 
None of you has responded.
As of now, we regard ourselves as free to publicize what has passed between us and your office.
Arnold Roth
A week has passed and there has been zero from Representative Adam Smith's busy team.

This is far from the only instance of our reaching out to elected officials or government appointees asking for basic clarifications connected to the dream life being lived in the Arab world by our daughter's killer. 

And being rebuffed.

The list of cat-got-your-tongue US lawmakers who have turned up with shiny faces at the doors of King Abdullah II's palace includes some significant names. During October and November 2019, in addition to Rep Adam Smith, it included these:
  • Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
  • Chairman Eliot Engel, House Foreign Affairs Committee [Source]
  • Chairman Bennie Thompson, Homeland Security Committee [Source]
  • Chairman Adam Schiff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence [Source]
  • Congressman Ron Kind, House Ways and Means Committee [Source]
  • Congresswoman Susan Davis, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
  • Congressman Stephen Lynch, Chairman, House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security [Source]
  • Congresswoman Elaine Luria, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi [Source]
  • Congressman Jason Crow [Source]
We documented some of how this works earlier this years - see "14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?"

And also here: "19-Oct-19: House Speaker Pelosi led an official visit today to the chief protector of our child's killer".

With few exceptions, mainstream editors and reporters in the news industry fail to engage with or report on the battle for justice we are waging as bereaved parents to see our child's killer stand trial in Washington on the US Federal charges she has faced for years.

Are we discouraged? Of course we are but we will keep pressing on. We frankly don't understand how these media figures and the politicians and their staffers view this. But for us, it's a matter of justice.

UPDATE January 12, 2020: They're back from the Congressional winter vacation and there has been not a single additional word from Rep Smith or his staff to us since the correspondence we published here. Nor from any of the other Congressional champions listed above.

UPDATE January 21, 2020: Turns out Congressman Smith is one of the signatories to letters of support given to the troubling hostile-to-Israel organization described in this extract:
More than 120 members of Congress privately issued letters of support to a controversial Islamic-American advocacy group known for its involvement in one of America's most prominent terrorism financing cases, according to a copy of these official communications obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group with deep ties to the anti-Israel movement in America, touted its support among congressional leaders during its 2019 gala conference in November in Washington, D.C. Prominent opponents of the pro-Israel community, including anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), headlined the conference. A copy of CAIR's conference agenda, obtained by the Free Beacon and published here for the first time, includes well over 100 letters from Democratic and Republican members of Congress, all of whom expressed their support for the controversial organization. Democrats issued the majority of the letters, with only two coming from Republican members of Congress... ["More Than 120 Members of Congress Issue Letters of Support to Leading Anti-Israel Group", Washington Free Beacon, January 16, 2020]
Perhaps we are a step closer to understanding why he declines to respond to our questions about his Jordan visit. But we're still dumbfounded by the hands-in-pocket-ness of the other lawmakers mentioned above.

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