TEL AVIV – The United States is considering freezing aid to Jordan in a bid to force the Hashemite kingdom to extradite the woman behind a 2001 terrorist attack in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two American citizens.
Arnold Roth‘s daughter Malki was one of two Americans killed in the Sbarro pizza restaurant in the August 9, 2001. A total of 122 people were wounded in the terrorist atrocity, including four Americans.
Roth spearheaded a campaign to extradite Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi who was convicted of planning the attack. However, Tamimi, along with 1,000 other Palestinian terrorists, was released in a 2011 prisoner exchange deal for the IDF soldier held captive by Hamas, Gilad Shalit.
The Trump administration, which has supported Roth’s case, now says it’s weighing “all options” to pressure Jordan to extradite Tamimi, including leveraging billions of dollars in foreign aid. Tamimi was charged in 2013 for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals.
Malki Roth’s father Arnold on Tuesday said the new “reports of U.S. officials challenging the Jordanians over their sheltering of Ahlam Tamimi are encouraging” and “a meaningful step forward.”
Asked if aid to Jordan would be used as leverage, the Trump administration’s nominee for ambassador to Jordan, Henry Wooster, replied: “If confirmed, I would explore all options to bring Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi to justice, secure her extradition, and address the broader issues associated with the extradition treaty.”
After her release in 2011, Tamimi returned to her birthplace, Jordan, and launched a career as a satellite TV host. She received a hero’s welcome attended by hundreds, including Muslim Brotherhood representatives. On her TV show, Tamimi frequently boasts about her involvement in the attack, which included selecting the location for the maximum number of casualties as well as accompanying the suicide bomber to the restaurant.
“Being in Jordan has given me strength, because Jordan does not have an extradition agreement [sic] with the United States,” Tamimi told Al Jazeera in an interview last year. “This led to the issuing of a legal decision refusing my extradition, and Jordan’s position on that matter is very clear.”
“Why am I, Ahlam, considered to be a terrorist, when I am part of a movement for freedom and national liberation?” she asked.
In a separate interview with AP, Tamimi said all attempts by Palestinians to resist Israel, including killing children and innocents, were justified.
The U.S. issued a warrant for her arrest and a subsequent extradition order from Jordan, with whom it signed an extradition treaty in 1995. However in the 2017 ruling, Jordan’s top court said the treaty was never ratified by the Jordanian parliament.