On August 9, 2001, a bomb blast pulverized a Sbarro Pizzeria located at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in Israel. The blast occurred at 2 pm, on a summer holiday afternoon, when the restaurant was filled with customers and the street crowded with pedestrian traffic.
The terrorist and his bomb had been transported by taxi to the area by a woman named Ahlam Tamimi and another Palestinian, and it was concealed inside a guitar case. The pizzeria had been carefully selected by Tamimi to maximize civilian casualties. When the Palestinian suicide bomber exploded the bomb, 15 people were killed and at least 130 more were injured. Among those killed in the blast were two American citizens: Judith L. Greenbaum, 31, of New Jersey, and Malka Roth, 15, of New York. Several other Americans were injured.
On October 18, 2011, as part of the deal made by Israel with Hamas, 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including Tamimi, were exchanged for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier. After being given money from both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for her crime, she eventually moved to Jordan, where she has since become a celebrity in the Arab world, hosting her own weekly show on the Hamas satellite TV station, Al Quds. She also found time to get married – with live television coverage of her nuptials – to her equally loathsome terrorist fiancée, another Palestinian murderer who had also been released in the Shalit deal.
Tamimi could be prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) for her criminal murders of two Americans and the wounding of the other U.S. citizens. I have already written not one, but two columns about her case and possible prosecution. So far, however, despite attempts by various organizations, including my own, to pressure the DOJ to start these prosecutions, no U.S. criminal prosecution has occurred. The DOJ is blatantly ignoring its obligations under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 USC Sec. 2332, which calls for the prosecution and punishment, in United States courts, of individuals who murder or maim American citizens in acts of international terrorism. There is also no evidence that the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT) – the office that was created in 2005 specifically to monitor acts of terrorism against Americans outside the U.S. and pressure the rest of the DOJ to bring to justice those terrorists who have harmed Americans – has made any real effort to push the DOJ to begin a prosecution of Tamimi.
Nevertheless, I never expected to write a third column on this depraved individual, but then I saw this video interview with Tamimi celebrating the attacks and this heart-wrenching article by the parents of Malka Roth. Both demonstrate just how much Ahlam Tamimi is enjoying her fame and good fortune since her release. Further, these also show how little this particular Palestinian terrorist, the Palestinian “governments,” i.e., the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and even our supposed ally, the nation of Jordan, respect the United States and the lives of our citizens. A woman responsible for the deaths of two Americans – one only 15 years old and another one pregnant with a child – is smiling and celebrating her crimes all over the Arab world, and she and the Arab governments that celebrate and reward her have absolutely no fear or concern that the United States will take any action to punish her or them. The twisted moral code shown here, and the lack of respect for the U.S., is almost unbelievable.
Should the DOJ ever bestir itself to go after Tamimi, I would like to point out that Tamimi’s post- imprisonment media appearances have made an already airtight case against her even tighter. As she had previously done in an earlier video, Tamimi has once again admitted to her crime on tape, and it may be used by the court to convict her. This is because Tamimi, as the defendant in a U.S. criminal prosecution, would meet the definition of a “party opponent,” and thus, under the federal rules of evidence, anything she says would be admissible in court. See FRE 801(d)(2)(A):
Rule 801. Definitions That Apply to This Article; Exclusions from Hearsay…
(d) Statements That Are Not Hearsay. A statement that meets the following conditions is not hearsay: … (2) An Opposing Party’s Statement. The statement is offered against an opposing party and: (A) was made by the party in an individual or representative capacity.
Even more importantly, there are now at least two taped confessions and, in contrast to the previous confession, which was filmed while she was still in an Israeli jail, in this most recent interview Tamimi cannot make the (already flimsy) argument that she was somehow forced – by coercion or physical beatings – to admit to her terrorist actions. In Jordan, she is under no duress from anyone; in fact, she is celebrating them.
Ahlam Tamimi has become more than just one Palestinian terrorist with blood on her hands. She is now a symbol of how weak the United States is, how unserious we are about continuing the conflicts formerly labeled the “War on Terror.” The longer her crimes go unpunished, the more dangerous she becomes as that symbol.
If she escapes justice completely, it will inevitably lead to more dead Americans.
Adam Turner serves as staff counsel to the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He is a former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee where he focused on national security law.