At first glance, you might not think there was anything very significant about the recent trial of a little-known Muslim imam in the Czech Republic.
Samer Shehadeh, a Palestinian Arab who is serving as a Muslim religious leader in Prague, was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison for giving financial assistance to Al-Nusra—the Syrian affiliate of Al-Qaeda—and helping his brother and sister-in-law join that terrorist group.
But the most important part of the story was not the trial, the verdict or the sentencing. It was how Shehadeh was captured. Way down near the end of the news accounts of the case, we learned: “Shehadeh was arrested in Jordan before being flown back to the Czech Republic and taken into custody in November 2018.”
Now compare Jordan’s extradition of Samer Shehadeh with its refusal to extradite another Palestinian Arab terrorist.
On Aug. 9, 2001, terrorists bombed the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed and 130 wounded. Three of the fatalities were American citizens, including 15 year-old Malki Roth. One of the perpetrators, Ahlam Tamimi, lives in Jordan and used to have her own TV show. The United States has requested her extradition. Jordan’s King Abdullah has refused.
Whenever Malki’s parents have raised this issue with State Department officials or leaders of certain Jewish organizations, they have been told that Abdullah can’t extradite any Palestinian Arab terrorists because the population of Jordan consists mostly of Palestinian Arabs, and they will overthrow him if he surrenders any terrorists.
“And, after all,” these apologists tell the grieving parents, “if Abdullah is overthrown, Jordan could become radicalized and that would be bad for Israel, and you wouldn’t want to hurt Israel, would you?”
Now we see that such excuses are not only insulting and patronizing, they are also patently disingenuous. The Shehadeh case clearly demonstrates that Abdullah is perfectly capable of extraditing a Palestinian Arab terrorist without suffering any repercussions.
Abdullah’s decision to harbor Ahlam Tamimi, a woman who brags about her role in murder, is a matter of choice. He has no problem extraditing Palestinian Arab terrorists—it just depends which ones. A Palestinian Arab involved with Syrian terrorists in the Czech Republic is extraditable. A Palestinian Arab terrorist who murders Jews, including U.S. citizens, must be shielded from extradition.
I am deeply disappointed at the silence of most American Jewish and Zionist organizations on this issue, including some groups that were once outspoken on the plight of American victims of Palestinian Arab terrorism. I realize that it may not be the most headline-grabbing issue around or the most exciting for fundraising purposes. But seeking justice is an obligation, not a choice.
I am equally troubled by those organizations that feign interest in the issue, but then bury it. A few months ago, a Jewish think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, held a gala dinner to honor King Abdullah. The Roth family protested that American Jews should not be honoring a king who shelters a murderer of American Jews.
The institute’s executive director, Rob Satloff, responded by heaping praise on the king and proclaiming how “very proud” he was to be honoring the Jordanian dictator. As for Abdullah’s sheltering of mass-murderer Ahlam Tamimi, Satloff said he has “great sympathy,” but it can only be one item “on a lengthy agenda.” Satloff claimed it is “an important item,” but I have not seen anything in the three months since that dinner to demonstrate that the Washington Institute has done anything concrete about it.
The Jordanian government is currently in the midst of receiving a five-year, $6.375 billion aid package from the United States. We are constantly told that the aid is justified because Jordan is America’s “ally.” What kind of “ally” shelters a murderer of Americans—and then gives her a television show? The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and other Jewish and Zionist organizations, should be demanding that the Trump administration make that aid conditional on the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi.
Those who harbor killers of Americans do not deserve American taxpayers’ dollars. Those who shelter murderers of American Jews do not deserve to be praised and defended by American Jewish organizations.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism,” now available on Kindle.