On Aug. 9, 2001, 15-year-old Israeli-American Malki Roth was among the 15 Israelis and tourists slaughtered in a suicide bombing at the Sbarro Restaurant in Jerusalem.
The mastermind behind the horrific terrorist attack, which left another 130 innocent people wounded—including a U.S. citizen who to this day remains in a vegetative state—was Jordanian national Ahlam Ahmad al-Tamimi. Tamimi admitted that she had selected the popular pizza place as a target because it was a known favorite for families. She also expressed her “delight” that so many children were killed.
Tamimi—whose conviction by an Israeli court led to 16 life sentences plus 250 years—was released from prison in 2011 as part of the deal with Hamas to release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Since her release, Tamimi, now 39, has been living freely in Jordan, even hosting a TV show for five years. She portrays herself as a heroine who “holds a medal of honor” for her “life imprisonment in Zion’s prisons.”
Malki Roth’s parents have been working for years to have Tamimi extradited to the United States. Her father, Arnold Roth, told me this week that he will not rest until Tamimi, the most wanted female terrorist in the world, with a $5 million bounty on her head, is extradited to America and brought to justice for murdering his beautiful daughter.
The Roth family has enlisted the support of the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI in their efforts.
The problem lies with the Hashemite Kingdom, which signed an extradition treaty with the United States in 1995, during the reign of King Abdullah’s father, King Hussein. According to the treaty, terrorists can be extradited but not criminals convicted of “political offenses.”
It is unthinkable for Tamimi to be considered in the latter category. It appears that many previous U.S. administration officials, and some current ones, have been afraid to upset Abdullah, and thus Washington has not pressured him to extradite Tamimi to bring her to justice in the United States.
But Jordan received $1.7 billion in American aid in 2017. I believe that if President Donald Trump were briefed properly about the details of this case, he would be inclined to pressure Jordan to extradite Tamimi. Perhaps Abdullah, too, would be more amenable to the idea if he were made to understand the moral imperative of bringing terrorists to justice, no matter how many years have passed since their crimes were committed.
It is time to give Tamimi her due, and give the Roths closure after so many years of grief and grieving.
Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.