Jordan refuses to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, the butcher of the Sbarro Pizzeria Massacre.
Frimet and Arnold Roth’s 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered in the August 9, 2001 Hamas terror attack at a busy Sbarro’s Pizzeria in the center of Jerusalem.
As we noted in a recent post, the Jordanian government has refused to extradite Tamimi.
But the bereaved parents believe that they are “getting closer” to their goal of having her stand trial in a U.S. Federal court. They now feel that they “need wide public support” to “help that happen.”
Via an online form at their blog This Ongoing War and at the foundation named in their daughter’s honor (Keren Malki—The Malki Foundation), the Roths are inviting the public to sign on and share their contact information.
They’ll then generate an email list which will be used to share information about the case and “keep supporters in the picture”:
Bringing Ahlam Tamimi to Justice: Where the Case Stands Now
We’ve written extensively about the 2001 Sbarro suicide bomb attack that killed 15 people, including Malki Roth and one other American, a 31-year-old woman who was pregnant at the time. As we noted, four other U.S. nationals were among approximately 130 others injured with varying degrees of severity by the human bomb and his team of accomplices.In our prior posts, we described the attack, among the most devastating of the early years of the second intifada, its victims, the team of terrorists involved, and the possibility of prosecuting them in the U.S.
All prior posts can be accessed through the tag Sbarro Terror Attack, but see in particular:
- Never Forget: Sbarro Pizzeria Massacre, Jerusalem Aug. 9, 2001
- Read: U.S. Criminal Complaint against Ahlam Tamimi in Sbarro Pizzeria bombing
- Jordanian High Court rejects U.S. extradition request for Ahlam Tamimi
In our posts on the case, we’ve focused on Tamimi, who helped perpetrate the horrific act of savagery by purposely choosing a crowded pizzeria at lunchtime, full of families and kids enjoying a summer day out on the town, and then leading the suicide bomber to the designated target.
As we highlighted, for the last five years Tamimi has never expressed an ounce of remorse for her crimes. In numerous interviews, her only regret is that she didn’t kill more people, especially more children. While being harbored in Jordan since her release from prison in the 2011 Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange, this depraved killer has also become a TV and internet star. On social media and on her TV shows, she’s bragged repeatedly about her role in the Sbarro attack, celebrating her own monstrous achievement.
Basically for years she’s been freely admitting to her crime, confessing in taped interviews and in online written comments, neither of which she can claim were forced by the Israelis. In Jordan, she’s under no coercion from anyone (so there would be no problem with the admissibility of her confessions in court).
Now on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorist List, we’ve highlighted in prior posts the Federal criminal charges against Tamimi. An affidavit in support of her criminal complaint and a warrant for her arrest were sworn out under seal in July 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. They were made public on March 14, 2017 and a request for extradition was made of the Jordanians, who rejected it.
At this point Tamimi and her family and friends are confident that she won’t be given up, but she’s still complaining bitterly about U.S. government harassment.
Frimet and Arnold Roth are “Looking for Some Friends”
In recent weeks, the Roths have utilized their blog and social media accounts to excoriate the Jordanian king and government for their rejection of the U.S. extradition request.In several compelling blog posts (see here and here), they’ve also denounced the Jordanian court rulings on the case—including the bizarre claim made by the High Court that no extradition treaty exists. The reality, as the Roths note, is that the treaty is fully in force: there’ve been successful extraditions in the past.
We are requesting your help.
We are Frimet and Arnold Roth of Jerusalem. We produce This Ongoing War: A Blog, and we are the parents of Malki. Our daughter was one of the innocents murdered in the August 9, 2001 Hamas attack on a central Jerusalem pizzeria.
The mastermind of that atrocity is a Jordan woman, Ahlam Tamimi. Israel set her (and 1,026 other Palestinian Arab terrorists) free in the catastrophic Shalit Deal in October 2011. She has been living in her home country Jordan since then. There she is a celebrity because of her terrorism. There she enjoys patronage and protection from the king and the government.
The US government announced serious Federal criminal charges against Tamimi in March 2017. It sought her immediate arrest and her extradition to stand trial in a US Federal court. Jordan immediately rebuffed the request. An extradition treaty has existed between Jordan and the US since 1995. The US authorities say it is fully in force. Jordan, which has extradited several people to the US since the treaty came into effect, says it is invalid and unconstitutional under their law. We believe strongly that their claims are insincere and untrue.
We have campaigned to bring Tamimi to US justice since she was permitted to walk out of her Israeli prison cell. (She served just 8 years of a 16 life-terms sentence!)
We feel we are getting closer but we need wide public support. To help that happen, we have decided to create an email list through which we will keep supporters in the picture. We hope you will sign on. We will use it to share information that in some cases may help bring Tamimi to justice.
We promise never to abuse your trust and in particular never to share your contact information with anyone.
Frimet and Arnold Roth
You can also listen too to Arnold Roth’s powerful interview (click here) with Tamar Yonah on Israel News Talk Radio last week.
In it, he describes Tamimi’s depravity—her joy in the deaths of children.
Particularly appalling, Roth says that immediately after the bombing Tamimi presented a news story about what happened, in her role as an announcer at the time on Palestinian TV. She had just helped to perpetrate a horrible mass murder, but within hours she was on-screen cool-as-a-cucumber, calmly recounting the horrors she committed for millions of her viewers.
Roth delivers a heart-wrenching account of the enormous devastation that Tamimi wrought in August 2001 on his own family and so many others, noting in particular the family of Joanne (Chana) Nachenberg, an American woman whose only child Sarah was two-years-old at the time. Joanne remains in a vegetative state today, having never regained consciousness (you can read her daughter Sarah’s moving words about her Mom here).
Toward the end of the 13-minute radio interview, Roth notes the efforts being made to bring Tamimi to justice in the U.S. It clearly comes across that he feels let down by the government and the five long years of having to wrestle with the U.S. bureaucracy, which is why he and his wife are now seeking the public’s help.
He sounds emotionally exhausted—exactly the way he sounded when I spoke with him several weeks ago.
My Conversation with Arnold Roth
I had the opportunity to talk with Roth on August 11, by phone from his home in Jerusalem. He filled me on new developments in the case. In his update, not all of which can be publicized at this time, he told me that even though 16 years have passed, “we face the grief of losing our child every single day”:
Years go by, but you don’t ever forget the reality of the loss.”
In parts of our conversation that I’m at liberty to disclose, Roth said that the Justice Department and FBI officials (a delegation of nine visited with him and Frimet back in March to let them know that the federal complaint against Tamimi was being unsealed) have continued to be courteous, respectful and sympathetic.
But the Roths are now certain that various government agencies are putting “obstacles in their path” and that there’s “no real intention to go after this woman [Tamimi].”
He pointed out that the unsealed warrant for Tamimi’s arrest landed her in jail for exactly one day (Interpol arrested her back in September). She’s had to stop doing her TV program. Twitter has also since shut her down twice, and her FaceBook account has been deactivated. But as Roth told me, Tamimi is
still potent, still out there—alive and quoted, and everyone knows that she’s hiding in plain sight.”
He mentioned to me that, unlike in the case of other murderers on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorist List, there’s no reference to a monetary reward on Tamimi’s head. He’s also been frustrated by the fact that officials haven’t put the FBI poster in a prominent place at the State Department.
In this regard, Roth is convinced that since Jordan has refused to extradite, the “problem in moving forward is on the State Department side.”
This remark about the State Department reminded me of something Sarah N. Stern, the Founder and President of The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), told LI in a statement for our prior post.
For some years EMET, a non-partisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank has been spearheading the effort to achieve justice for American victims of Palestinian terrorism, including the Roths. In her LI statement last August, Stern also expressed being aggravated by the U.S. Department of Justice’s apparent foot-dragging in prosecuting Palestinian terrorists. According to Stern, the central problem is that justice is being “contaminated by political [and] diplomatic factors”:
…for the Americans unlucky enough to be killed or injured by Palestinian terrorists, they are regarded as mere pawns on a political and diplomatic chessboard. This should not be. It is morally wrong. And it is not what the America I grew up believing in is all about.”
Terrorists from around the world are routinely extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for attacks on Americans abroad. But those who murder Americans in Israel seem to be one class of killers who are immune from extradition.
The Department of Justice and the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT)—largely it would seem because of interference and obstruction from the State Department, which foils and stymies their efforts—are obviously failing to do their job when it comes to prosecuting these terrorists, many of whom like Ahlam Tamimi continue to roam free across the Middle East.
None have ever been prosecuted by the United States.
Quite simply, as Arnold and Frimet Roth have so persistently and eloquently shown over the years, the pain of the grieving American families is being compounded by the inaction of their own government.
Malki Roth z’l and her parents deserve better.But as we discussed in our prior post, there’s another good reason not to let Tamimi continue to walk free enjoying fame and good fortune: doing so undermines U.S. national security and counterterror efforts because it sends the message that even allies like Jordan can get away with acting dismissively and disrespectfully toward the U.S. and the lives of American citizens.
Bottom line: The fight to bring Ahlam Tamimi to stand trial in a U.S. court of law is a worthy cause to support because as long as Ahlam Tamimi is free she remains a symbol of U.S. weakness. If she continues to escape justice, there will undoubtedly be a lot more dead Americans.
To support Frimet and Arnold Roth in their campaign to bring Ahlam Tamimi to U.S. justice, click here to include your name and contact information.
Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 60 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also frequently speaks and writes on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElmanDONATE
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