|Jordan's foreign minister speaks: We quote him in this post|
Unidentified Jordanian journalist:
“Regarding the freed detainee Ahlam Tamimi, there are American pressures on Jordan...”
Ayman H. Safadi, Foreign Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:
Once more, sir, we are a country which respects the law. Jordanian law does not allow handing over a Jordanian citizen to a third country unless there are agreements. There is no agreement between Jordan and the US to hand over Ahlam Tamimi. Consequently there is no legal basis for handing her over as we adhere to the law in this case. There were requests from several parties in America to hand her over since there is a pending lawsuit against her. We say, because we act according to law, the law does not permit us to hand her over and consequently we shall not hand her over.”
|The journalist who posed the question|
In 2019, Jordan did not extradite Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, who has been charged in the United States with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the United States resulting in death. The charge is related to her participation in the August 9, 2001, suicide bomb attack at a pizzeria in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two U.S. nationals. Four other U.S. nationals were among the approximately 122 others injured in the attack. Following publication of the 2018 Country Reports on Terrorism, Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi confirmed that U.S. authorities asked Jordan to extradite Tamimi, and he expressed the view that Jordan’s constitution does not allow the extradition of a Jordanian citizen to a third country. The United States regards the extradition treaty with Jordan as valid and in force.
In addressing the State Department, we were conscious of how the Jordanian jurists could have said but did not that (a) there were additional grounds for invalidating the treaty. In fact, they referred to just one. And (b) that additional legal claims - such as the doctrine of double jeopardy - applied and would operate to prevent Jordan from handing over Tamimi. They referred to none.
- The treaty could have been ratified that very day. Or the day after. Or any other day in the quarter of a century since it was signed and put into effect.
- The US believes every i was dotted and every t crossed - that all the technical requirements were complied with and satisfied. But even if there had been some parliamentary lapse, the ratification could have been dealt with after the fact. Where there's a will etc.
- Jordan's relationship with the US is super important for Jordan. It's arguably far more important than say Jordan's ties with Ukraine. The Jordan/Ukraine extradition treaty is treated by both sides as a valid legal obligation. In fact, we asked Jordan's ambassador in Washington about it by email last year. She ignored the points we made. She ignored us. She ignored a letter [the JTA's syndicated report, and our blog post] from seven US law-makers who raised similar issues. (To us, something is seriously wrong when the official representative of a purportedly-close ally on the payroll of US taxpayers treats respectful and important questions with disdain.) The judges did not turn their minds to this aspect. But we should. And so should friends of Jordan.
- The US is by far Jordan's largest supplier of funding. Jordan is the third-largest recipient of US aid in the world. A reasonable person might imagine that in such circumstances, Jordan would make really serious efforts to honor its obligations to the US. It appears a reasonable person would be wrong. And the judges made no mention of the issue. One might argue it’s not their job. But the same certainly cannot be said about Jordan’s parliament, not to mention its king.
- Jordan has numerous extradition treaties with countries other than the US. Were those treaties all ratified before they were put into effect? From our research, the answer is definitively no. The judges didn't ask but it is a matter that would surely trouble anyone concerned with the "rule of law" aspect of long-thwarted Tamimi extradition.
Now this important observation: Just because the Jordanian court was told that no ratification was done, it still might not be true. As we describe below, the truth appears to be that there was indeed an act of ratification. Or more precisely, that Jordan may have been able to give the US what are called "instruments of ratification" - and no one cares to talk about it.
The October 2020 media event at the Jordanian Foreign Ministry
- In fact, we were told by a US Department of Justice source that the US was neither asked to advise on this; nor was it raised in the very brief Jordanian court hearing. It appears no representative of the United States was present in court when the Court of Cassation handed down a ruling on the validity of a vital agreement between the two countries. We of course weren't there, know nothing about Jordanian rules of procedure and are left to rely on what US administration officials with knowledge of the matter say. And that's what we heard from them. Call us surprised.
- No one is going to argue that Jordan is one of the world's paragons of democratic practice. Its media, in particular its newspapers, are famously unfree. The king appoints the prime minister and may dismiss him or accept his resignation. He has the sole power to appoint senior military leaders, justices of the constitutional court, all 75 members of the senate, cabinet ministers, dissolve both houses of parliament. The king must approve laws before they take effect and can issue royal decrees which are not subject to parliamentary scrutiny. He commands the armed forces, declares war and ratifies treaties [Source: Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations, Congressional Research Service, Updated to June 18, 2020]. To state the obvious, in Jordan, what the Hashemite king says, goes. In any tension between constitution and realpolitik, no one should be in doubt about how the Jordanian outcome is determined.
In the specific case of Ahlam Tamimi, we continue to advocate that the Government of Jordan arrest her and agree to extradite her to the United States. To date, the Government of Jordan has been unwilling to accede to our requests because they have claimed the bilateral extradition treaty we signed in 1995 is null. We continue to dispute the Jordanian government’s claim, as we exchanged instruments of ratification, bringing the treaty into force on July 29, 1995, and the treaty has not been terminated. I hope the information I provided above answers your question. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.We asked whether this statement could be quoted publicly. Yes was the answer.
|Front page of New York Times, August 4, 1995|
The New York Times in an August 4, 1995 article on Jordan tracks the pursuit of one of the plotters of the first lethal attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the one carried out in 1993.
Is there a realistic chance of the sanction being applied, given the transition now underway in Washington? It was not applied last year; it has not been applied so far this year either. The prospects for next year are unknown but probably low.
Malki at the heart of a family celebration some weeks before
the end of her life. She never reached her 16th birthday.