Sunday, February 27, 2022

27-Feb-22: The Jordanian woman who bombed Sbarro has earned another title

Ahlam Tamimi
We pay a lot of attention in this blog to an Arab woman called Tamimi. Starting a decade ago, we devote ourselves to seeing her removed against her will from the Arab country where she lives and brought in chains to the United States where a federal prosecution has awaited her since 2012. It's an ongoing effort. 

* * *

Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, born in Jordan in 1980 and living today in its capital, was named five years ago to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. That elite collection currently features the names and mug-shots of 25 fugitives. Only two are females.

She is also the killer of our daughter Malki, one of the many innocents, most of them children, murdered and maimed in the Hamas bombing of a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. Our child was 15. 

(A side note about the other woman on that FBI list. A member of the ultra-violent Black Liberation ArmyJoanne Chesimard became the first female to be put on the list. That was in 2013, evidently to recognize the fortieth anniversary of the cold-blooded 1973 murder of a New Jersey state trooper, a terrorist act for which Chesimard was convicted and then imprisoned in 1977. Two years later, she escaped and was never recaptured. Though there is a $1 Million reward for information about Chesimard, there's no expectation she will ever be back behind US bars since, according to the FBI, she was given political asylum in Cuba.)

The State Department's Rewards for Justice unit posted a multi-million dollar reward on Tamimi's head in early 2018. It's not obvious why; the law enforcement officials assigned to the Tamimi prosecution have at no stage needed anyone's help in finding her. She resides in a modern apartment in Amman, Jordan's capital, where via online videos we have watched her interviewed by the likes of Associated Press and Aljazeera. We have clips and photographs of her front door, her living room, the view from her balcony and even her coffee mugs; all can be easily found on the web. (Links on request.)

The Jordanian fugitive calls the massacre of Jewish children in a Jerusalem pizzeria "my operation", a claim that makes sense when you know the details. She has never expressed the smallest degree of regret for the lives she destroyed. Quite the opposite: she is triumphant.

In 2017, she formally became subject to US federal charges announced on March 14, 2017. But unlike most fugitives, she hasn't been in hiding for even a day. Her life is public, her influence pervasive and toxic.

As Fox News reported two years ago [link], Tamimi

is the most wanted woman in the world, with a $5 million bounty for information that leads to her arrest or conviction... Despite being on the run from American authorities, Tamimi has been hiding in plain sight for years - under the eye of one of the United States' longest and closest allies in the Middle East: Jordan.

* * *

Even before the FBI put her face on its posters, she was honored closer to home by a different kind of tribute.

This happened a year after the criminal complaint was signed off by a federal judge in a Washington court, but before anyone knew about it. That's because those charges were sealed in 2013 at the US government's request. They stayed secret until unsealed nearly four years later in March 2017. 

Quickly removed from the JMI website, this tribute
on every page of the students' portal calls the Sbarro
bomber their "success model"
In a stunning decision, the students of a prestigious Jordanian center for journalism studies, Jordan Media Institute, declared Tamimi to be their success model. Literally.  That's the exact term they used (in Arabic). Given that she's principally known for the murdered children, that should have been a show-stopper. 

They plastered it all over their website (see image on the right). It was a position statement they wanted people to know about.

What the JMI students did was never reported by any mainstream news source - not  then and not since. But we certainly publicized it

We also publicized how about a third of the JMI's foreign funders and partners (we listed them here) reacted almost immediately by terminating their funding and discontinuing their partnering. 

JMI's management flatly ignored our comments, polite requests and questions. We understand how embarrassed their actions must have made them feel. They notably include Princess Rym Ali, JMI's principal founder. As Rym Brahimi, she was for years an on-camera reporter for CNN before marrying into King Abdullah's family.

What we don't understand is those funders and commercial sponsors who chose not to disengage or cut funding to Princess Rym's school. They include the governments Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union - all of whom rejected our pressure and in some cases argued back. (We have never published those letters.) 

Lest you think public support for a fugitive bomber who confesses to mass murder could damage the standing of a university-level school like Jordan Media Institute, under royal patronage and funded by foreign governments - well, perhaps you don't get how Jordan works. 

Here's an example. Last month, according to the kingdom's government-controlled news platform Jordan Times, Jordan Media Institute proudly hosted White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki 

as part of the special guest speaker component of the ongoing Jordanian Government Spokesperson training implemented by JMI in partnership with the Office of State Minister for Media Affairs at the Prime Ministry and support from UNDP. 

This is the same Jen Psaki who this past July deflected the questions of an Associated Press reporter when Jordan's King Abdullah II got the red carpet treatment at the White House ["21-Jul-21: In welcoming Jordan's king to Washington, we wanted him to be reminded of the ongoing Tamimi extradition scandal"]. At a media briefing, the reporter asked her whether the Tamimi case came up in the Biden/Abdullah meeting. A reasonable enquiry given how seriously the State Department says it takes the whole Tamimi extradition matter as the slide below clarifies:

Source: "21-Jul-21: After Jordan's king visited the State Department yesterday"

But all the AP reporter got from Psaki was an unhelpful ear-full of we'll-get-back-to-you vagueness. Our understanding is she never did get back. 

Hard not to suspect that Psaki felt right at home visiting a school that views Tamimi as an inspiration and an icon. 

* * *

The latest Tamimi 'honor' came at the end of 2021 and has gotten surprisingly little media attention. Or perhaps not so surprising.

That's when Tamimi was included in the annual edition of The Top 20 Most Dangerous Extremists Around the World. The Counter Extremism Project which produces the list is 

"a not-for-profit, non-partisan, international policy organization formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideologies... [It] builds a more moderate and secure society by educating the public, policymakers, the private sector, and civil society actors about the threat of extremism. CEP also formulates programs to sever the financial, recruitment, and material support networks of extremist groups and their leaders."

Positions 1, 2 and 3 are occupied by the heads of Hezbollah, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Hamas. In giving her position 18, CEP accurately calls Tamimi "unrepentant for her actions" and notes she has 

exploited media platforms to promote violence against Jewish people, Israel, and its allies. In an interview, al-Tamimi even went so far as to say, “I would do it again today and in the same manner.”

CEP says 2022 will bring new and highly dangerous threats. And that political leaders need to recognize this and ensure that intelligence services are prepared, resourced, and funded to match the danger. 

* * *

If the decision makers in the countries capable of sending Tamimi to trial are paying attention to the clear and present danger she poses via her ongoing influence in Arab society, they work hard at conveying the opposite - how little interest they actually have in the case. 

How else to explain the years of toxic influence and freedom this monster has been privileged to enjoy? Why is she still free?

Then there's the matter of justice and how it's thwarted. 

If any of those officials, political figures and media professionals are reading this, we want them to know how much pain they have brought into the lives of the families of Tamimi's victims. That's actually our whole message.

To stand with us, and we hope you do, in our years-long fight to see the US respect its own legal system and press a recalcitrant ally into living up to a strategic treaty, we invite you to sign our petition. It calls on the US Secretary of State to explain to the authorities in Amman, Jordan, what neither he nor a string of previous incumbents in his office have said since those terror charges were finally made public in 2017: Tamimi needs to be extradited to Washington without further delay

The petition is here

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