Thursday, May 14, 2020

14-May-20: In Jordan, they stand with confessed bomber Tamimi. And they're worried...

Fugitive Ahlam Tamimi married her cousin, also a Tamimi,
also a convicted and unrepentant killer of Israelis, in 2012.
They now live in Amman at an address known to everyone
who matters. It's never been a secret. And right, she's a fugitive.
How does that work?
This post is longer than those we usually publish.

That's because what we're covering here has appeared practically nowhere else in the English-speaking world. And if we don't show people what wall-to-wall adulation of terror, of the murder of innocent children, looks like in a country widely regarded as civilized, it's just not going to be known. And it needs to be.

We're focused here principally on the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It's a place where the media are not free and where extreme views - if the authorities see them as extreme - can and are shut down by the government. In its most recent assessment, the influential Freedom House gave Jordan a freedom rating of 37 out of 100, calling it "partly free".

We can offer many instances of how this partly-free system works. This could be a good place to start: "20-Jan-18: Shutting down media critics in Jordan isn't quite the challenge it might seem to be".

So if hateful and violent views get widely published there, we're entitled to draw inferences about the views of the government and of the individual who controls it.

Earlier this month, we posted ["05-May-20: From Congress, concern about how Jordanians deal with the fugitive terrorist in their midst"] about a letter sent by a number of Members of the US House of Representatives on April 30, 2020 to Dina Kawar, Jordan's ambassdor to Washington. The effort was driven by the fine people at Endowment for Middle East Peace, EMET. Their media release about it is here.

Go the bottom of this post to see the full text of that letter.

In their letter, the members of Congress address what we would call Jordan's appalling decision to risk its strategic relationship with the United States and massive US foreign aid all in order to keep a beloved, blood-drenched terrorist safe from the clutches of the US justice system. It's an extraordinary affair that gets a paradoxically tiny amount of media attention.

But right now, this week, the Arabic-speaking world - and Jordan in particular - is giving it plenty of attention - both in its media and via public statements by Arab political figures.

Since this reality is almost entirely unknown and unreported in the English-speaking world, we have pulled together a selection of examples. Every one of them appeared in the Arab media in the past three days. Things are moving. But what they reveal is deeply troubling.
  • Members of the American Congress threaten to punish Jordan if he does not surrender Ahlam al-Tamimi [RT Arabic, Russia] - May 10, 2020 | Seven Republican members of Congress warned Jordan that the United States might move to impose sanctions on Amman, unless it offered to extradite the Jordanian-Palestinian citizen Ahlam Al-Tamimi to Washington. The newspaper "Haaretz" said that the seven members sent a warning message to Jordan's ambassador to Washington on April 30, and it was published by the pro-Israel political pressure group EMET. The newspaper pointed out that the importance of this message lies in the fact that its author is Republican Congressman Greg Steube for the state of Florida, and signed by members of Congress who are famous for their close ties to the Trump administration...
  • Because of Ahlam Tamimi, America threatens Jordan and demands her deportation (sic) [Masdar News, Palestinian Authority]  - May 10, 2020 | Israeli newspaper (Ha'aretz) said that seven Republican members of the American Congress warned Jordan that the United States is currently going to impose sanctions on Amman, unless it decides to deport the freed prisoner Ahlam Al-Tamimi... Al-Tamimi was released in a fulfillment deal in 2011 when the Israeli occupation accused her of masterminding a bombing of a pizzeria in Jerusalem... Ahlam Al-Tamimi is a Palestinian journalist, the first woman to join the military wing of Hamas, born in 1980 in Zarqa, Jordan, which she left with her parents when she finished high school. Ahlam returned to Palestine and at Birzeit University in the West Bank she started undergraduate studies at the Faculty of Information. Ahlam tried to fight the occupation in her own way, so she focused on the program she presents on a local TV broadcast from Ramallah called "Independence", to monitor the occupation's practices...
  • Parliamentary Reform Bloc denounced a request by Members of Congress to hand over the Jordanian captive Ahlam Al-Tamimi [Jordan24, Jordan] - May 11, 2020 | The Jordanian Parliamentary Reform Bloc affirmed that the members of the American Congress send a letter to the Jordanian embassy in Washington requesting Jordan to hand over the freed Jordanian prisoner Ahlam Al-Tamimi, and that it violates Jordanian national sovereignty. The bloc stressed in a press statement, Monday, that Jordan is not subject to blackmail or coercion policies, and the dignity of its children is not subject to bargaining... Ahlam Al-Tamimi, a freed Jordanian prisoner, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Zionist entity 16 times, after participating in a guerrilla operation in Jerusalem in 2001...
  • "Urgent details of the American threat to Jordan: Al-Tamimi for money" [Nabd Pulse, Arabic] - May 11, 2020 | ...The EMET group said that Al-Tamimi was the mastermind of the bombing in Jerusalem in 2001, killing 15 people including two US citizens in addition to the injury of a third American among the 121 people injured in the bombing... [EMET] revealed that the US had requested Jordan to extradite three persons before Al-Tamimi... [and got them]
  • Will Washington impose sanctions on Amman if it does not deliver Ahlam Al-Tamimi? [Quds Press, Palestinian Authority]  - May 11, 2020 | ...International law expert Anis Qasim confirmed... that "Al-Tamimi is considered to hold Jordanian citizenship and according to Jordan's constitution, it is not permitted to extradite a Jordanian citizen to foreign authorities" [Our comment: Nonsense]... Representative Tariq Khoury said "America threatens the kingdom with woe and rebellion in the event that freed Palestinian prisoner Ahlam Al-Tamimi is not delivered up... Jordan continues to stand firm on its position on Palestine and the deal of the century... Is it not time to reassess our political alliances... and reconsider the agreements signed with the Zionist enemy? ...The value of US aid to Jordan is estimated at $ 1.7 billion annually.
  • Al-Tamimi and the seriousness of the American threat [Al Ghad, Jordan] - May 11, 2020 | Muhammad Suwaidan | I was not surprised that 7 members of the American Congress resorted to threatening to cut US aid to Jordan in the event that Amman did not respond to the American request... This method (the threat) is not strange for successive American administrations, nor for its deputies and elders. This method is always used to pressure in favor of the Zionist entity and to pass its dangerous and purposeful policies to liquidate the Palestinian issue... In light of this reality and to exploit the difficult Jordanian economic circumstance in light of the Corona pandemic, these seven deputies resorted to the method of threatening to cut US aid, as if the issue of extraditing or not extraditing Al-Tamimi is a major issue that requires such a dangerous measure, confining Jordanian-American relations in this narrow angle... I do not think that the government will be affected by such pressures as it is the judiciary that prevented the extradition of Al-Tamimi... I also believe that the American administration will not accept to cut its aid to Jordan for such a reason... The Tamimi case does not call for major decisions such as cutting aid to Jordan.
  • Al-Tamimi Editor to "Quds Press": I am surprised at the silence of the Jordanian government regarding Washington's threats to arrest me [Quds Press, Palestinian Authority] [Archived] - May 11, 2020 | Habib Abu Mahfouz | The freed Jordanian captive, Ahlam Al-Tamimi, valued the "justice of the Jordanian law which refused to extradite her to the United States of America"... Expressing her “fear that the law will be legalized and altered so that it does not serve Jordanian political interest later, and I was amazed at the silence of the Jordanian political side and its failure to respond to the message of the seven members of the American Congress"...
  • Members of Congress press Jordan to deliver Ahlam al-Tamimi [Arabic 21, UK] - May 11, 2020 | [The Haaretz article] pointed out that the importance of this message lies in the fact that its author is Republican Congressman Greg Steube of Florida, and it is signed by members of Congress famous for their close ties to the Trump administration... 
  • America threatens Jordan for this reason! [Gaza News, Gaza] - May 11, 2020 | ...The message reached Jordan's ambassador on April 30 and was published by the EMET group which is known to be supportive of "Israel" and has been working to press for the message to be sent for years... 
  • An American Threat to Jordan: Al-Tamimi for Money [Khaberni, Jordan] - May 11, 2020 | The Israel-backed EMET group revealed the details of a letter sent by seven members of the American Congress to Jordanian Ambassador in Washington Dina Kawar threatening Jordan in the event it refuses to hand over freed Jordanian prisoner Ahlam Al-Tamimi to the American authorities. [She] was sentenced to 16 years [sic] in prison in Israel after participating in a bomb attack in Jerusalem in 2001... Jordan is considered the third largest recipient of American foreign aid, according to the message. The group explained that Jordan's view is based on the lack of an extradition agreement with the US while the latter claims there is an extradition agreement... 
  • Jordanian MP: We will not hand over Al-Tamimi | The threats of Congress came because of our position on the deal of the century | [Sputnik News Arabic, Russia] - May 12, 2020 | "Jordan and the United States of America enjoy historical ties, but there are pressures on Jordanian politics because of the so-called American Century deal," said Nidal Al-Taani, member of the Jordanian House of Representatives... He stressed that "the pressure from some members of the American Congress and the American administration on Jordan in light of the economic and political conditions imposed by the Corona virus on the whole region now came in the form of an indirect request to hand over the Jordanian citizenship, Ahlam Al-Tamimi"...
  • Jordan: We will not surrender Ahlam Tamimi to America | [Ramallah News, PA] - May 12, 2020 | A deputy in the Jordanian Parliament confirmed today, Tuesday, their categorical rejection of the extradition of the freed Jordanian captive Ahlam Al-Tamimi to the United States, despite a US warning to Jordan about imposing sanctions on Amman... Jordanian MP Nidal Al-Taani... stressed that the Jordanian Court of Cassation's decision came not to extradite Al-Tamimi and take the final degree ruling in the three main courts, noting that the House of Representatives did not approve the extradition agreement between Jordan and the US...
  • Al-Assaf: The US Congress has crossed the line | Ahdath Al-Youm, Jordan] - May 12, 2020 | [The letter from the US lawmakers] exceeds the limits and violates Jordanian national sovereignty and does not respect the dignity of Jordanians... Jordan is not subject to blackmail or coercion policies and the dignity of its children is not subject to bargaining... [The kingdom's government] should issue a clear, frank and decisive response to this magtter and confirm the position of the Jordanian judiciary.
  • Representative Khoury: America threatens Jordan with woe if it does not deliver Ahlam Al-Tamimi [Al-Binaa, Lebanon] - May 12, 2020 | Said [Jordanian] MP Tarek Khoury yesterday, the US is trying to swap economic aid to Jordan and the issue of Palestine to pass the deal of the century. He noted in a press statement that America threatens the kingdom with doom and gloom if it [the US] does not receive the libeeated Palestinian captive Ahlam Tamimi. 
  • Jordanian MP Slams US Threat to Cut Aid Over Extradition Denial [The Media Line, Israel - in English] - May 12, 2020 | Dima Abumaria | The United States is bullying Jordan to serve Israeli interests, a Jordanian lawmaker charged after seven US representatives threatened to withhold aid if Jordan did not extradite to the US a woman accused of masterminding a Jerusalem restaurant bombing that killed two Americans in 2001.  “The Jordanian kingdom is under pressure, mainly economic, from more than one side, because we defend our political positions,” Yahya al-Saud, chairman of the Jordanian Parliament’s Palestine Committee, told The Media Line after the legislative body rejected the US request... Saud said that the United States was targeting stable developing countries in order to destabilize them to help Israel. “The US should be biased toward international legitimacy, especially in matters that upset the feelings of Arabs and Muslims.” These are “unilateral American decisions that serve Israeli citizens,” Saud said... Brian O’Toole, an American analyst and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program, told The Media Line that the threat was not significant because it would apply only to assistance to the kingdom’s central government and could be waived by the US secretary of state. The measure would not apply to all aid. “So, it may only be a fraction of the overall pot. I suspect the provision that allows this was more of a messaging bill added to the appropriations omnibus bill than a serious threat,” O’Toole said... Mahmoud al-Kharabsheh, a Jordanian legal expert and former member of Parliament, told The Media Line that “citizens who are wanted are subject to international standards; Jordan doesn’t just hand over Jordanian citizens unless there’s an approval, certain agreements.” The US administration was thus violating diplomatic and international norms, he charged. Furthermore, Jordan had worked to free Tamimi, he said. “Ahlam was imprisoned in Israel years ago, and Amman made huge efforts to get her released.” Pressuring Jordan to turn over Tamimi is against the interest of American taxpayers because the move “is creating hatred against them, given its diplomatic and legal violations.” If the United States has a case against Tamimi, it should take the appropriate legal steps instead of asking Amman to give her up, he said. Jordan “would never just hand over citizens like that.” ...When reached by The Media Line, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office refused to comment on the matter. 
  • Members of Congress threaten Amman for its failure to surrender Ahlam Tamimi to America [Al Hadath, Palestinian Authority] - May 12, 2020 | ...The letter stated that the seriousness of these US sanctions reflects the concerns of the Congress, the American administration and the American people, and the newspaper reminded that Jordan receives US assistance amounting to 1.7 billion dollars...
  • Why will Amman not extradite Ahlam Al-Tamimi to Washington? | [Al Akhbar, Lebanon] - May 13, 2020 | The demands to extradite al-Tamimi are not new, but this time the United States raises the whip for sanctions. Is the Kingdom being punished for a sovereign decision? Jordan's Washington ambassador Dina Kawar, received a signed letter from seven American representatives, four of whom served in the army... Their letter dated April 30, 2020 is a complaint about the “normal life” that Tamimi lives in the kingdom with freedom of movement, public appearances, her work in the media... desppite her involvement in the guerrilla operation known as "Pizza Sbarro"... Fadi Farah of the National Committee for Jordanian Prisoners and Missing Persons in Zionist Detention told Al-Akhbar that “Al-Tamimi came out in an exchange and cannot be handed over, and what she did is a legitimate resistance act, and there is a refusal to extradite her, supported by a Jordanian judicial decision”... [Quoting a legal expert] the White House is not bound by Congress in foreign policy [and\] no Jordanian citizen may be extradited to a foreign entity unless a definitive judicial judgment has been issued against him and a treaty exists to extradite the wanted persons between them. ». Therefore, the claim of seven American lawmakers to Amman to act unconstitutionally in the Al-Tamimi case appears to be a form of futility. How can a lawmaker demand that his laws be violated? ...It is clear the Tamimi case is a political matter par excellence.
  • An American threat to punish Jordan if it does not surrender Ahlam Al-Tamimi [Al Manar Palestinian Authority] - May 13, 2020 | ...The United States has pressed for al-Tamimi to be deported [sic] for years but the law that allows the US State Department to use US support to pressure deportation requests was not enforced until late last year...
  • Ahlam Al-Tamimi, Jordan's steadfastness icon [Assabeel Newspaper, Jordan] - May 13, 2020 | Habib Abu Mahfouz | In principle, international law "permits resistance in all its forms as a legitimate right for the people under occupation" and given the story of the freed Jordanian captive Ahlam Al-Tamimi, she exercised that right guaranteed to her according to international legitimacy as a Jordanian girl of Palestinian origin who worked to expel the occupation from her country. Ahlam Al-Tamimi, who was released from the Zionist prisons in the year 2011 through an exchange deal between Hamas and the Zionist side, had contributed to the implementation of a martyrdom operation of the martyr Izz al-Din al-Masry in the Sbarro restaurant in occupied Jerusalem in 2001, in which two Americans were killed, in addition to thirteen Zionists... According to experts of international law, Jordan is not obligated at all to deal with the calls of the American side to deliver Ahlam Al-Tamimi, especially since those calls were not made by the American administration but rather came from members of the American Congress whose number does not exceed the fingers of the hands... The issue of Al-Tamimi editor prompted us all to ask: Are we obligated to place Jordanian eggs in the American basket? Is the American basket today as it was yesterday? It is clear that the Corona virus will change the international balance, and America will not return in the near future the only player in this universe...
For anyone wondering - oh, sure we looked hard to find a handful, even one, critical piece about an entire kingdom united in its passion to honor and protect the confessed bomber of a fast-food place filled with children, many of whom were mutiliated or, like our beautiful fifteen year-old daughter Malki, murdered. Something that would show how in Jordan, there are normal individuals living side by side with the bloodthirsty, bigotry-driven crazies. 

We're still looking. If you know where they're hiding, let us know, send us a link and we'll publish them here. 

As we said above, we now publish the text of the April 30, 2020 letter from those US lawmakers
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515  
April 30, 2020 
Her Excellency Dina Kawar
Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
3504 International Drive NW
Washington DC 20008 
Dear Ambassador Kawar: 
We write concerning Ahlam Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Jordanian woman who for the past three years has faced Federal terrorism charges in the United States. Despite this, she lives a free and unrestricted life in Jordan, residing at an address that for years has been known to the Jordanian and US authorities and to the media [Footnote 1: See for instance this Aljazeera video news report]. 
She has never at any stage lived in hiding. Tamimi has repeatedly boasted of masterminding the Sbarro pizzeria bombing on August 9, 2001, an act of unusual barbarism done in the name of the Hamas terrorist organization. This resulted in the deaths of 15 innocents, among them two American citizens. 
From her safe haven in Jordan and with evident pride, she has called the massacre “my operation” and says she chose the target because of the young Jewish families and children who frequently thronged it. Tamimi accompanied the bomber, Izz-al din Shuheil al Masri, helping him smuggle the guitar case rigged with explosives from Ramallah past Israeli security manning a crossing on Jerusalem’s northern edge. Minutes before the huge blast, Tamimi fled the scene to save herself, returning to Ramallah where she read the evening news – starting with the report of her own lethal handiwork – for an Arab television station. 
She was soon arrested, confessed to all the charges before an Israeli court, and was sentenced to 16 life terms. But she was released under duress as part of the October 2011 Shalit Deal between Israel and Hamas and, like the other 1,026 Palestinian convicts in the deal, was granted a conditional commutation of sentence to secure the freedom of an Israeli hostage held illegally by Hamas. 
On release, Tamimi returned to Jordan, the place she was born and educated and where she had lived with her parents until finishing high-school in 1998. In October 2011, immediately after her triumphant return to Amman, she embarked on a career as an advocate for murderous extremism of the kind the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a key strategic ally of the US, is formally committed to ending. 
She returned to television in February 2012, presenting a weekly Hamas-produced show advocating Palestinian terror, produced in Amman and transmitted from there throughout the world. This went to air weekly until September 2016. At no stage, as far as is known, did Jordan’s authorities interfere with it. 
Today, appallingly, Tamimi is a media celebrity, the subject of wide popular admiration. She has appeared publicly side-by-side with prominent political figures and received extraordinary recognition in Jordan’s mainstream press and television media as a respected commentator and as an object of Jordanian national pride. She has been showered with acclaim by the students of the Arab world’s most important graduate school of journalism, the Amman-based Jordan Media Institute, who declared her to be their “success model”. For five years she traveled widely and often to deliver public speeches throughout Jordan and in numerous Arab countries beyond Jordan’s borders. Her theme has always centered on promoting terror and terrorists. 
US Federal charges were first brought against Tamimi in mid-2013. The US then delivered a formal extradition request under the treaty between our two countries that had been signed in Washington on March 28, 1995 and that entered into force July 29, 1995. The Hashemite Kingdom refused. It continues to refuse until today. This is a matter of grave and growing concern to the Congress and to all Americans. The American view concerning the treaty is that it is certainly valid. It continues to be listed in the US government’s authoritative Treaties in Force document [Footnote 2 - at page 244] 
On March 14, 2017, Justice Department officials in Washington DC officially announced US Federal terrorism charges against Tamimi and added her the same day to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. There is a $5 Million State Department reward for her capture and conviction. 
We are aware that just days after the Department of Justice’s March 2017 Tamimi announcement, Jordan’s highest court ruled that a technical flaw existed under Jordanian constitutional law. However we are also aware that up until the Tamimi case and its Israeli victims, Jordan had extradited terrorists to the United States multiple times. We appreciate that it is Jordanian law that defines how questions like this are resolved. But we also understand that the flaw to which Jordan’s senior judges referred can be repaired. Indeed it could have been repaired at any time in the past quarter century since it came into effect. 
As you know, in November 2019, the State Department, clarifying the American position, said [Footnote 3 - at page 135] of the 1995 treaty: “The United States regards the extradition treaty as valid.” 
We note as well that Jordan has or is currently finalizing extradition treaties with Australia, Ukraine, France, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan among others. The kingdom has long had extradition arrangements with numerous Arab states. 
As lawmakers ourselves, seeing Jordan provide a confessed bomber with legal impunity while rebuffing an arrest warrant and extradition request from its most significant ally and friend, the United States, amounts to a deeply troubling scenario. 
The US Congress, as you know, legislated sanctions in December 2019 which, subject to certain conditions, will apply to “a country which has notified the Department of State of its refusal to extradite to the United States any individual indicted for a criminal offense” [certain details follow] and is “a country with which the United States maintains diplomatic relations and with which the United States has an extradition treaty” and “that country is in violation of the terms and conditions of the treaty”. 
The potential seriousness of these sanctions provisions reflect the deep concern of the Congress, the Administration and the American people. We believe it is of the highest importance to US/Jordan relations that an outcome is found that honors Jordanian law while ensuring this unrepentant terrorist and murderer of innocent Americans is brought to US justice. Extraditing Tamimi within the framework of a long-standing, effective treaty is a powerful statement that Jordan will not tolerate terrorism nor its promotion. 
We reaffirm our appreciation for His Majesty King Abdullah II and his inspirational leadership and look forward to the further flourishing of our mutually important alliance.
We respectfully await your response. 
It's signed by US Representative Greg Steube (Republican, Florida) along with Representatives Paul Gosar (Republican, Arizona), Ted Yoho, (Republican, Florida), Doug Lamborn, (Republican, Colorado), Brian Mast, (Republican, Florida), Scott Perry, (Republican, Pennsylvania), and Louie Gohmert, (Republican, Texas). Our great appreciation goes out to each of them.

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