Sunday, October 04, 2020

04-Oct-20: The Sbarro bomber's husband has been forced to leave Jordan: A snapshot of developments

Nizar Tamimi giving an interview in his Amman home
This past Thursday, reports emanating initially from Tamimi clan sources and then later via the Arabic media in Jordan said the husband of Ahlam Tamimi, the admitted bomber of the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria in 2001, has suddenly been expelled from Jordan. 

He appears - that's what reports are saying - to be taking up residence in Qatar. But note that the government of Jordan has said precisely not one word. And no reports of him actually being in Qatar have emerged yet. There's room to be cautious in interpreting what's happened.

Where things appear to stand

Middle East Eye reported Friday (October 2, 2020) that 

Jordanian authorities on Thursday declared the liberated Palestinian prisoner Nizar Al-Tamimi persona non grata and asked him to leave the country, according to sources who spoke to Arabi21 news site. Nizar al-Tamimi is the husband of Ahlam al-Tamimi, who served time in Israeli prisons. Ahlam, who holds Jordanian citizenship, is wanted in the United States. Washington had previously requested her extradition, but Amman refused due to the absence of a law allowing the extradition of Jordanian citizens abroad. Her husband only has Palestinian citizenship, and is not on any wanted list by any country. A Jordanian source told Arabi21 that Nizar al-Tamimi had been renewing his residence permit every three months, but this time Jordanian authorities refused to extend his stay, and asked him to leave the country, even though his wife is a Jordanian national. The source said that Nizar left on Thursday to Doha [Qatar] despite attempts to mediate and solve the issue without having him deported. The source confirmed that “the decision to deport Nizar al-Tamimi is linked to his wife's involvement in a suicide attack against Israelis during the Second Palestinian Intifada, which prompted the US authorities to pursue her ever since”. The source also considered that “deporting Nizar al-Tamimi would cause major problems for the family, especially since his wife's departure from Jordan might threaten her safety and expose her to arrest”. The Trump administration indicated a few months ago its intention to cut off aid to Jordan as a way to pressure the kingdom’s authorities to hand over Ahlam to Washington, Arabi21 reported. In 2013, the US Department of Justice put Ahlam al-Tamimi on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list, and charged her with "conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals outside the United States". 

Nizar Tamimi, at the time a member of the Fatah terror organization and a resident of the Palestinian Arab village of Nabi Saleh ["17-Mar-13 A Little Village in the Hills and the Monsters it Spawns"] was charged in 1993 with his involvement in the murder of an Israeli student of Jewish religion, Chaim Mizrachi ["The murder of a West Bank student highlights the plight of the Jewish religious communities confronting Palestinian rule", Sarah Helm, The Independent UK, November 7, 1993]. The young Mizrachi had made the fatal mistake of buying eggs from a Palestinian Arab farmer. It's an appalling story. 

Tamimi was subsequently convicted for his part in the cruel and gruesome homicide and sentenced to life imprisonment. Two other Tamimi cousins were convicted at the same time. 

The extremely unlovely Tamimi clan

Nizar Tamimi's uncle, the prominent agitator Bassem Tamimi who was Nizar's mother's brother was initially thought, according to reports we have seen, to have been involved. (Worth noting that there is a huge degree of consanguinity - marrying within the clan - among Nabi Saleh's many Tamimis. Almost every resident of the village was born with that name, and Tamimis routinely marry Tamimis.) 

Then after Bassem Tamimi suffered head injuries while in Israeli police custody, those homicide charges seem to have been dropped with no public explanation. They are almost never mentioned in media reports about Bassem Tamimi's quite public life. 

Bassem Tamim is also a cousin of Ahlam Tamimi, Nizar's wife. And he is the father of Ahed Tamimi, the previously very-high-profile young woman, often referred to as Shirley Temper in news reports ["24-Dec-17: Nabi Saleh, the media and a Tamimi child's journey"] for her availability to perform on demand when the press cameras were rolling. 

Nizar Tamimi walked free in the extortionate deal Israel did with the terrorists of Hamas in 2011 to secure the freedom of a young hostage, Gilad Shalit. So did his cousin Ahlam Tamimi, and so did 1,025 other convicted terrorists. The two Tamimis were married in Jordan less than a year later ["22-Jun-12: A wedding and what came before it"]. Bassem Tamimi and his family traveled to Jordan to take part in the celebrations.

This past week

The London-based Arabic Al Araby news site (October 3, 2020) - which is the source for most of what Middle East Eye published above - under the headline "Ahlam Al-Tamimi appeals to the Jordanian monarch to allow her husband to return to Amman", reports from Amman, Jordan's capital, that Ahlam Tamimi has just sent a message to Jordan's ruler, King Abdullah II. She asks him to allow her husband Nizar Al-Tamimi to return to Jordan and go on residing there.

She addresses the king as "the father of all Jordanians", lavishly praising him as one who extends "hospitality for everyone who sought asylum in this country and who took refuge in it, bearing all the economic, political and social consequences... Jordan has been a pioneer in embracing me and giving a safe haven for me and my husband after we were released from the occupation prisons". 

She describes the nearly eight years she has lived in Jordan after being released by Israel in the Gilad Shalit Deal as "the most beautiful days of my life". 

Then referring to the events of the past week, she declares that "we were surprised by the request that my husband leave [Jordan] quickly" causing them "the pain of separation".

Offering some background, the report says the Palestinian Prisoners and Executives Affairs Authority issued a statement on Thursday October 1, 2020, saying Jordan had refused to renew the residency of Nizar Al-Tamimi, husband of Ahlam Al-Tamimi, demanding that he leave Jordan. It says the Jordanian government and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs had failed to issue any comment on the matter. It mentions how "Jordan rejected the request of the American authorities to hand over the freed captive Ahlam Al-Tamimi, and the Court of Cassation at that time, the highest judicial body in Jordan, approved a decision issued by the Amman Court of Appeal, ruling not to hand Ahlam Tamimi over to US authorities."

Note: nothing from any official Jordanian source. 

Al Araby connects the expulsion of Nizar Tamimi to the statements made by newly-installed US ambassador to Jordan, Henry Wooster, who stated in May 2020, before he had been confirmed by Congress to the long vacant position of ambassador to Amman, that the United States, in the paper's words, "might suspend foreign aid to Jordan if Ahlam al-Tamimi were not handed over". 

Then it shifts into full-blown conspiracy mode:

The Tamimi case has become one of the pressure points used by Tel Aviv [sic] and Zionist lobbies [sic] pressing in the United States towards forcing Jordan not to object to Israel's plan to annex about a third of the West Bank to it and to implement the American dictation plan to liquidate the Palestinian issue known as the "Deal of the Century"...

Nizar Tamimi (r) with his mother's brother Bassem Tamimi
in October 2011 shortly after his release from an Israeli
prison cell as part of the Shalit Deal
 
Quds Press International News Agency (October 3, 2020) [archived] publishes a "special statement" given to it by Ahlam Tamimi that day. The expulsion of her husband from the Hashemite Kingdom came "suddenly and without prior coordination" and "at a very sensitive time... in light of increasing American demands to extradite me to there... The deportation of my husband Nizar was met with much joy and pleasure in the Zionist newspapers." 

The husband's deportation is, she fears, "a prelude to handing her over to the American authorities." This is very wrong since, as she puts it, "it is my right for my husband to live with me on Jordanian lands with dignity just like all other Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians." 

Good luck with that.

Why now? 

Quds quotes her saying "it seems the Jordanian side is betting I will join my husband in Qatar but this is not at all possible since there is an Interpol request distributed at airports around the world for my extradition to Washington." 

The world's most sought female fugitive ["31-Jan-20: Fox News break ranks with the mainstream media on Tamimi and Jordan"] now thinks staying in Jordan is the safest option for her since "the highest Jordanian court (the Court of Appeal) made the decision not to extradite me to Washington - a strong and destined position and therefore my exit would be like someone who places himself in the lion’s mouth, exposing myself to the American danger, and therefore I will not leave Jordan ever... 

Getting her husband back, according to Tamimi "is a right guaranteed by the constitution". 

Quds quotes the husband saying that last week "the [Jordanian] security authorities asked me to leave Jordan immediately and that their decision is final and irrevocable and would not be withdrawn under any circumstances."

Nizar and Ahlam Tamimi in their Amman apartment
Shehab News Agency
(October 3, 2020) [archived] writes under the headline "MP Al-Shanti: Ahlam Al-Tamimi is an icon of the Palestinian woman revolting against the occupation", that a Gazan Palestinian Arab "parliamentarian" has denounced "the arbitrary measures" directed against the female "fighter against the Zionist occupation", calling them illegal "by all laws".

Jamila Al-Shanti, a key figure in Hamas and (according to this Wikipedia source - but there may have been another woman who had that role) the widow of arch-terrorist Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, the political head of Hamas until eliminated in 2004 by Israeli fire, says "Zionist American terrorism targets the released prisoners through assassination, re-arrest or deportation. Ahlam spent ten years in detention before her release in 2011 under the Wafaa Al-Ahrar prisoner exchange deal", a reference to the Shalit Deal.

She calls Ahlam Tamimi "a candle for the world’s women who aspire to freedom, an icon in the heart of every Palestinian and Arab woman fighter defending her right - Ahlam knows the path of resistance and will continue."

Next moves

But rhetoric doesn't have much impact on fast-moving developments and the reality is that Ahlam Tamimi's options have suddenly gotten a good deal narrower. 

It's obviously an ongoing and complicated story which, given our interest in seeing her sent to Washington to face trial there for spearheading the Sbarro pizzeria massacre, we will be following closely. And to those trying to learn something from all the moving parts and surprise twists: we follow the Arabic media fairly closely and have not yet seen a single article there which mentions the people Ahlam Tamimi killed. This is actually stunning, not in a good way. 

It's the real story here.

[UPDATE Sunday October 11, 2020: There have been many developments worth reporting in the past 72 hours. We've been flat out dealing with them behind the scenes. However we do hope to update readers of this blog in the coming 24 hours.]

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