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AJC calls on Justice Department to pursue Ahlam Tamimi extradition

The letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland comes ahead of the 10th anniversary of Tamimi’s indictment for her role in 2001 Sbarro bombing

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Israeli medics and volunteers treat the injured at the site of a Palestinian suicide bombing August 9, 2001, in Jerusalem, Israel.

The American Jewish Committee is for the first time publicly calling on the Justice Department “to exert every effort” to push Jordan to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, a Palestinian terrorist convicted in an Israeli court for her role in the 2001 bombing of a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in which 16 people, including three Americans, were killed. 

Tamimi, who received 16 life sentences for escorting a suicide bomber to the restaurant, was freed in a 2011 exchange with Jordan along with more than 1,000 prisoners, most of them Palestinian. She has since become well-known in Jordan and for years hosted a program on a Hamas-affiliated television network.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland, AJC CEO Ted Deutch writes that Tamimi is “unrepentant” and has “enjoyed celebrity status since returning to Jordan, glorifying and inciting terrorism and for five years hosting a program on the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV, beamed throughout the Arabic-speaking world.”

The letter comes ahead of the 10th anniversary of Tamimi’s indictment — done under seal — by the Department of Justice. After the charges were made public in 2017, Jordan rejected the premise of a longstanding extradition treaty between Washington and Amman.

“There is no ambiguity regarding the U.S.-Jordan extradition treaty,” the letter says. “Legal obligations between nations cannot be set aside because they are inconvenient to enforce.”

Americans Malki Roth, 15, and Shoshana Greenbaum, 31, were killed in the blast. New York-born Chana Nachenberg was critically wounded in the attack, and remained in a vegetative state for more than two decades before dying from her injuries in May. Nachenberg’s young daughter survived the attack unharmed.

Malki Roth’s parents, Frimet and Arnold Roth, told JI that the AJC letter was “honorable and welcome.”

“In urging the DOJ to press for extradition by a valued treaty partner, the AJC is backed by justice, American law and Judaism’s profound respect for the sanctity of human life. Ahlam Tamimi calls the Sbarro atrocity ‘a crown on my head.’ The obscenity of her being free to inspire admiring crowds in Jordan and beyond with her savagery should have ended years ago in a Washington courthouse. We pray it will now,” they said in a joint comment for JI.

Yael Lempert, the Biden administration’s nominee for ambassador to Jordan, pledged in her confirmation hearing in May to “do everything in my power” to extradite Tamimi.

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