Ahlam Tamimi, “one of the world’s most renown(ed) female terrorists,” is now touring Arab media, taking advantage of her “expertise” in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing in April. Tamimi regularly speaks to provide “insight on how Muslims–both male and female–can become killing machines.”
This is disgraceful. And it is yet another sign of the mounting weakness of the United States in the international arena.
Tamimi should have been prosecuted long ago by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for her murder of two Americans. I have written not just one, but three separate columns about her case (see here and here and here). Here are the basic facts of her crime, again: on August 9, 2001 a bomb blast pulverized a Sbarro Pizzeria located in Jerusalem, killing 15 people and injuring at least 130 more.
Among those killed in the blast were two American citizens, one of whom was pregnant. Tamimi was sent to an Israeli jail for organizing this attack. On October 18, 2011, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including Tamimi, in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was being held by Hamas.
After being given blood money from both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for her terrorism, Tamimi 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. Now she has become a regular commentator on Arab media, talking about terrorism and celebrating her crimes.
This Palestinian terrorist has implicated herself for the bombing, on video, multiple times now. Yet the DOJ is ignoring its obligations under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 USC Sec. 2332, which calls for the prosecution and punishment of individuals who murder or maim American citizens in acts of international terrorism.
The DOJ is ignoring this case, even though Congress actually went to the trouble in 2005 of creating a separate unit within the DOJ, the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT), to monitor acts of terrorism against Americans outside the U.S. They are ignoring this case even though in the last Congress over 50 members asked the DOJ to go after these kinds of terrorists, including Tamimi herself.
The DOJ should pursue Tamimi not only to bring an admitted terrorist to justice but also based on our clear national interest. It is in America’s national interest to make terrorists, and the nations that harbor them, actually think twice about supporting terrorism-before or after the fact-against U.S. persons and interests. Letting an unrepentant murderer of Americans run around flaunting her crimes to the world, and, in fact, being honored for them, makes us look like a paper tiger.
Nor is this an isolated occurrence. Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. is simply not a credible superpower, prepared to use force, prosecution, or other punishments to achieve its ends in this dangerous world. As I have stated before, the Administration seems to believe largely in “carrots,” and not “sticks.” So, foreign nations or persons don’t worry about working against us.
For example, in a 2012 presidential debate with Mitt Romney, President Obama underlined his intention to punish those terrorists who had participated in the September 11, 2012 murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya. However, to date, the only man in prison for the Libyan terror attack is the Christian filmmaker who produced a film that the Obama Administration erroneously blamed for triggering attack. The New York Times, a strong supporter of this Administration, has even reported that a terrorist involved in the attack walks around unmolested in Libya and “scoffs” at the threat of U.S. capture.
There is also our supine behavior towards the radical Islamist regimes of Pakistan and Egypt. Both of these countries have clearly shown, through both word and deed, that they are no longer allies of the United States. The former hid and protected Osama Bin Laden from American justice for years but prosecuted for “treason,” imprisoned, and tortured the Pakistani doctor who assisted the U.S. forces in the search for that arch-terrorist. More recently, Pakistan elected a man who received a million dollar payoff from Bin Laden.
Meanwhile, Egypt is led by a Muslim Brotherhood member, Mohammed Morsi, who is cracking down on democracy and human rights and has repeatedly called for the release of the terror mastermind behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, from a U.S. prison. However, neither nation has felt any repercussions for this kind of anti-American behavior, while we continue to annually supply billions of dollars in American aid to both.
President Obama has almost four more years to go in his second term as our Chief Executive. He will not be leaving early. In my past columns, I have made it quite clear that I disagree with him, and his Administration, on many of the major foreign policy issues facing the U.S.
However, he is the President, and as an American, I want him to succeed in keeping our country safe. Otherwise, the world becomes more dangerous for the United States and our allies. To succeed in the game of nations, it is imperative that Barack Obama use both the carrot and the stick of international diplomacy. Certainly, one of our more successful foreign policy Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, would counsel so, “I have always been fond of the West African proverb: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.'”
Let’s use that stick, Mr. President, to put “the fear of the U.S.” back into those who would do us harm.
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.