|Source: Yesterday's Jordan Times|
The only Congressional name that appears in any of the numerous news items we saw is that of Senator Michael Rounds, a Republican and the junior senator from South Dakota. He sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
|The Al-Husseiniya Palace in Amman|
But no one was giving their ruling closer examination. And no news report at the time cast any doubt at all on the soundness of the Jordanian judges' argument. That's a shame because to us it's clearly built on deception and inaccuracies. (We choose not to use blunter words.)
A Hamas activist on the FBI’s list of “most wanted terrorists” said she is relieved Jordan’s highest court has blocked her extradition to the U.S., where she faces charges in a suicide bombing that killed 15 people, including two Americans, at a crowded Jerusalem pizzeria.Ahlam al-Tamimi, 37, who chose the target of the 2001 attack and guided the bomber there, told The Associated Press that she “lived in fear” for her life until this week’s high court ruling, in part because she had received threats, including from U.S. citizens, on social media. She said she can’t leave her native Jordan for fear of arrest if she travels abroad.Al-Tamimi has been unapologetic about her role in one of the deadliest of scores of Hamas suicide bombings during the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule. She said Palestinians have a right to resist by any means, including with such attacks, against what she portrayed as a brutal military occupation.“We are an oppressed people defending ourselves,” al-Tamimi said in an interview this week in her home in the Jordanian capital, Amman. “We want Israel to leave our land so we can live in quiet.”Asked about her role in the killing of civilians, including children, she said: “I don’t target children, but when the bomb goes off, it goes everywhere.”The blast at the Sbarro restaurant in downtown Jerusalem went off on the afternoon of Aug. 9, 2001. The assailant detonated explosives hidden in a guitar case packed with nails. Fifteen people were killed, including seven between the ages of two and 16, and scores of people were wounded.Al-Tamimi was arrested by Israel several weeks after the bombing and sentenced to 16 life terms. She was released in a 2011 Israel-Hamas prisoner swap.Since then, she has been a familiar media presence, including at one point hosting a talk show on a Beirut-based Hamas-run TV station about Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.She has also spoken repeatedly about the attack, saying she was pleased with the high death toll.On Monday, Jordan’s high court ruled that al-Tamimi cannot be extradited from Jordan to the United States because the two countries don’t have an extradition treaty.
a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor. Mr. Wooster is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Maghreb and—or Egypt in the Bureau of Northeastern Affairs. He has previously worked as the Deputy Chief of Mission and then Charge´s d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan. Mr. Wooster has also served as Deputy Chief of Mission in the U.S. Embassy in France.
The years Mr Wooster previously served in America's Jordan embassy evidently warmed him to the charms of the kingdom. He underscored this in answering a question about the possible impact on Jordanian feelings if the US were to cut back its financial support refugees:
Well, Senator, no one knows this better than the Jordanians—no one is a better friend to Jordan than the United States is. And we can say that with integrity. And I can look you in the virtual eye and say it. And that is true by orders of magnitude. It is not simply a debating distinction. It is true if you look at the record. And the record shows, again and again and again, and with orders of magnitude, there is no friend that is better to the Hashemite Kingdom than the United States. So, we do not want these people to be beleaguered, and we do not want them left out in the dark. I mean, these are allies and strategic partners, and we are going to stand by them. We are going to make sure that they are not left with a deal that is bad for Jordan, too. [Source: The official protocol]
Diplomats as effusive as Mr Wooster aren't all that common.
But let's compare that now with what happened in the non-face-to-face part of the confirmation hearing when questions for the record are submitted ahead of time by the Senators and the candidate responds after taking some time to prepare a written answer. This doesn't always happen - but it happened in the Wooster confirmation.
In the protocol, the exchange that follows is headed "RESPONSES TO ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD SUBMITTED TO HENRY T. WOOSTER BY SENATOR TED CRUZ".
Question. Please describe the extent to which Jordan’s refusal to extradite Tamimi has affected U.S.-Jordanian relations?
Answer. We continue to ask that the Government of Jordan arrest Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi and agree to extradite her to the United States. The Government of Jordan has been unwilling to accede to our request due to the Court of Cassation’s ruling that our bilateral extradition treaty is not valid. We continue to dispute the court’s claim, as we exchanged instruments of ratification that brought the treaty into force on July 29, 1995 and the treaty has not been terminated. We continue to raise this issue at the highest levels in order to reach a satisfactory solution.
Question. What options and leverage does the United States have to secure Tamimi, including potentially withholding assistance to the Government of Jordan?
Answer. The United States has multiple options and different types of leverage to secure Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi’s extradition. We will continue to engage Jordanian officials at all levels not only on this issue, but also on the extradition treaty more broadly. U.S. generosity to Jordan in Foreign Military Financing as well as economic support and other assistance is carefully calibrated to protect and advance the range of U.S. interests in Jordan and in the region.
Question. Can you commit to using those options and leverage to secure Tamimi’s extradition?
Answer. If confirmed, I would explore all options to bring Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi to justice, secure her extradition, and address the broader issues associated with the extradition treaty.
It's the kind of forthright response a well-prepared ambassador ought to give. But we're left wondering how closely His Excellency Henry T. Wooster, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (as he has been since August 27, 2020), hews to the approach he outlined to the Senate.
* * *
As of today, Tamimi is still free and still making public appearances replete with messages encouraging terror.
As for Jordan, its senior officials (with the notable exception of Foreign Minister Safadi) have maintained a policy by which they carefully avoid making public statements about the treaty even as they hold tight to the kingdom's celebrity terrorist. The principal principle seems to be: just don't get into spats with the Americans.
The United States through three administrations (Obama, Trump, Biden) takes a reciprocal approach and is sticking to it. And justice be damned.
The exception to the game-plan is Safadi. We have published two blog posts reporting how, on two occasions a year apart, he has asserted publicly in Arabic to domestic audiences that refusing to hand over the mass-murderer as required by the treaty is actually evidence Jordan respects the law: see "13-Nov-19: Thank you, Mr Foreign Minister" and "16-Nov-20: Justice, the Tamimi extradition and what Jordan tells Arabic media but not the world".
(We haven't yet written about the numerous occasions on which Jordan's king, speaking off the record in what are often closed-door meetings in the US, offers a range of near-plausible explanations for his Tamimi strategy.)
|2001 The site of the Sbarro massacre (Peter Dejong, AP)|
- Has he or his staff in the Amman embassy explored all options to bring Tamimi to justice? Is there a plan to start exploring this at some point in the foreseeable future?
- Can he outline for us what "all options" might look like?
- Those "broader issues associated with the extradition treaty" - can we get a preview of what they are?
- Can we count on them getting public exposure even as the FBI Most Wanted fugitive terrorist is hosted by Jordan?
- In continuing to dispute the Jordanian court’s claim about the validity and applicability of the treaty, and raising the issue "at the highest levels in order to reach a satisfactory solution", is there progress? It's been years, Your Excellency. Can we get some teeny tiny indication of how the process is going?
- And where the sticking points are?
- Would the Ambassador like to know a little about our murdered daughter Malki? About her beautiful life and about the really fine non-sectarian, apolitical and tremendously constructive work done in her memory via the Malki Foundation?