Opinion

A long-awaited holiday gift for victims of terror

For many families who have been suffering in quiet anguish for the last 18 years, a new U.S. law is nothing short of a miracle.

An FBI “Most Wanted Terrorist” poster for Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Ahmad Tamimi, one of the masterminds of the Aug. 9, 2001 bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem that led to the deaths of 15 civilians, two of them Americans. Source: FBI.
An FBI “Most Wanted Terrorist” poster for Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Ahmad Tamimi, one of the masterminds of the Aug. 9, 2001 bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem that led to the deaths of 15 civilians, two of them Americans. Source: FBI.
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah N. Stern is the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a think tank that specializes in the Middle East. She is the author of Saudi Arabia and the Global Terrorist Network (2011).  

Anyone who cares at all about the pursuit of justice just got an unexpected holiday gift last week. Congress just passed a huge omnibus spending bill, which was signed by the U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 20 and became the law of the land: Public Law 116-94.

Tucked into this bill by an anonymous member of Congress, without any fanfare, was HR 7055, which states: “None of these funds provided by this Act, may be used to provide assistance, (here there is a reiteration of the emergency exceptions), to the central government of a country which has notified the Department of State of its refusal to extradite to the United States any individual indicted for a criminal offense for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or for killing a law enforcement officer.”

For many families who have been suffering in quiet anguish for the last 18 years, this is nothing short of a long overdue miracle.

Let me explain. On Aug. 9, 2001, 21-year-old Ahlam Tamimi picked up Izz Al-Din Shuheil Al-Masri from the West Bank and accompanied him to the Sbarro pizzeria on the corner of Jaffa and King George streets in the heart of West Jerusalem. Ms. Tamimi had said that she particularly scouted out this restaurant because it was frequented by young Jewish families.

Mr. Masri walked into the restaurant, ordered and calmly proceeded to eat his lunch. He was carrying with him a guitar case rigged with explosives, nuts, bolts, nails and a suicide belt. Shortly after 2 p.m., an explosion could be heard that rocked Jerusalem for miles. Mr. Masri detonated the belt, killing 15 people, including seven children, and wounding 130 others.

Two among those murdered were American citizens, Malki Roth, 15, and Judith Greenbaum, 31, who was pregnant at the time. Another four Americans were seriously wounded: David Danzig, Mathew Gordon, Joanne Nachenberg and Sarah Nachenberg. To this day, Joanne Nachenberg remains in a vegetative state.

According to the Antiterrorism Act of 1991, USC 18, section 2332 (b) anytime an American is maimed or murdered overseas in an act of terrorism, the United States maintains the right and responsibility to try that suspect in American courts and have her serve out her punishment within the United States.

Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who was responsible for planning and helping to execute this heinous crime, has made it a career out of boasting about this vile act.

She has confessed numerous times on tape, swaggering about the extent of the crime and the number of Jewish casualties. It is particularly revolting to hear her speak of the delight, on tape, when she first learned that she had killed 8 Jewish children.

In 2002, an Israeli court sentenced her to 16 consecutive life sentences.

However, in 2011, the government of Israel decided to trade her along with 1,026 other Hamas terrorists with “blood on their hands” for the captured Israel Defense Forces’ soldier Gilad Shalit.

She immediately fled to Jordan, where she was treated like a conquering hero and showered with flowers. She had been given her own Hamas television show, “Breezes of the Free,” every Friday, which was broadcast far and wide, basically being used as a role model to would-be terrorists throughout the world.

She has even appeared several times on a secular television show, “Carnival” and was fawned over like as though she were a celebrity.

We at EMET have successfully pushed for many congressional letters and two congressional hearings about this issue. One hearing was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee under the direction of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in 2015, and another in the House Oversight Committee led by then chairman (now governor of Florida) Ron DeSantis in 2016.

Primarily because of the forceful line of questioning by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on March 4, 2017, the Justice Department met with Malki Roth’s parents, Arnold and Frimet Roth, and uncovered an indictment of Ms. Tamimi and put her on our “Most Wanted List,” offering a $5 million award.

The United States has made an extradition request of the government of Jordan for Tamimi.

Jordan claims, however, that they have no extradition treaty with the United States. According to the U.S. State Department however, Jordan signed an extradition treaty with it in 1995.

Three Jordanian terrorists have, in fact, been extradited from Jordan to the United States and are now serving out lengthy prison sentences in American jails—Eyad Ismoil, Mohammad  Zaka Amowi and Nader Saadeh.

Somehow, when the terrorists don’t have the rock-star status of a Tamimi, then an extradition treaty suddenly exists.

The United States gives Jordan approximately $1.7 billion each year. The government of Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, but they have done absolutely nothing to sow the societal landscape towards peace.

Perhaps this new law will incentivize them to uncover their buried “Extradition Treaty.”

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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