Why Jordan Should Extradite Palestinian Mass Murderer Ahlam Al-Tamimi to the U.S.

By Hugh Fitzgerald

Ahlam Al-Tamimi is the Palestinian terrorist who was the mastermind of the suicide bombing at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001, where 15 people were killed and 130 wounded. Two of the dead were American citizens. Jordan’s highest court ruled in 2017 that al-Tamimi cannot be extradited to the United States because a 1995 extradition treaty signed between the two countries was not ratified by Jordan’s Parliament, making it unconstitutional for Jordanian courts to approve US requests. Nonetheless, in 1995, shortly after the extradition was signed but not yet ratified by Jordan’s Parliament, Jordan extradited Eyad Ismail Najim, a Jordanian citizen implicated in the 1993 New York City bombing. It seems that Jordan is selective in those it chooses to hand over, and those whom it protects.

It should be noted that while an extradition treaty makes extradition a duty for the treaty’s signatories, no state is prohibited from extraditing someone in the absence of such a treaty. That must be the American position here: we want to put Ahlam Al-Tamimi on trial for the terrorist murder of two American citizens; you Jordanians have the right, even absent a treaty, and the responsibility as well, to extradite her. If you do not, there will be economic consequences; we will significantly decrease the amount of aid we provide you with. More on Ahlam Tamimi, and the American failure to force her extradition to the U.S., is discussed here.

In media appearances since her release, Tamimi has gloated about her role in the bombing and her continued escape from justice.

“Being in Jordan has given me strength,” she told Al-Jazeera in 2019. “Why are we considered to be terrorists? Why am I, Ahlam, considered to be a terrorist when I am part of a movement for freedom and national liberation?”

Roth and his wife Frimet continue to fight to bring his daughter’s killer to justice through their blog, “This Ongoing War”, and to honor her legacy through the Malki Foundation, but say that for years they have received short shrift from elected US officials and the State Department.

“No one wants to talk to us. We’re the unwanted guests of the wedding. And no one has any good answers for us in Washington,” Roth said.

Roth said that after the arrest warrant for Tamimi was unveiled at a Department of Justice briefing in Washington, DC, on March 14, 2017, his attempts to check on progress in the Tamimi case were too often met with a wall of silence.

Years later, the situation remains largely the same.

Ahlam Al-Tamimi is lionized in Jordan; young girls take their inspiration from this unrepentant mass murderer. And the Americans appear, over the past six years, to have done nothing but provide Amman with lots of carrots — $1.65 billion dollars in 2022 — but nary a stick in sight.

It’s time to take away those carrots, and bring out the sticks. The State Department continues to claim that it the Al-Tamimi case “is a matter of great concern” and that it is doing all it can, but this claim now has fewer and fewer takers.

A State Department spokesperson told The Algemeiner that they are “committed to seeing the terrorist Ahlam Al Tamimi face justice in the United States,” and that they take her case “seriously” given her role in an attack that killed 15 people, including two Americans.

Publicly, Biden Administration officials have also said that the Tamimi case remains a matter of concern, and some congressional Republicans have pushed legislatively for her extradition and in letters to the Jordanian government. Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) in April 2022 introduced legislation that would limit aid to Jordan until it honors the extradition treaty. The act did not proceed to a vote in the House.

Perhaps now that the Republicans control the House, Steube’s bill can be reintroduced, slightly rewritten. For clearly no appeals to morality or simple decency will persuade the Jordanian government to extradite the proud murderer of Jews, Ahlam al-Tamimi. Only a threat by Washington to cut aid will elicit the right response from Amman. But the bill as written by Rep. Steube demands that Jordan “honor the extradition treaty.” Why not, instead, leave off all mention of that treaty, as yet unratified by Jordan’s parliament, and instead demand that Jordan simply extradite (no treaty need be mentioned, for none is necessary) Ahlam Al-Tamimi to the U.S., to be tried for murdering American citizens?