Ahlam Tamimi, the accomplice to the notorious Sbarro restaurant bombing in Jerusalem during the second intifada, will not be extradited from Jordan to the United States, the Jordanian Court of Cassation ruled Monday.
Jordan’s Petra News Agency reported that the court approved a recent decision by the Amman Court of Appeals against extradition because of what it said was the lack of an extradition treaty in force between the two countries. A judicial source quoted by Petra said that while the US and Jordan signed an agreement on extradition of criminals on March 28, 1995, it never received required approval of the National Council, an advisory body whose members are appointed by the king.
Petra quoted a legal source as saying that a request sent by a foreign country to concerned authorities in Jordan to extradite criminals is not usually accepted as long as the extradition treaty is not effective.
The ruling means that Tamimi will be able to continue her career as a television host admired for striking a devastating blow against the Israeli enemy rather than face trial and possible death penalty in the US. Tamimi caused the deaths of 15 civilians, including eight children and one pregnant woman and the wounding of 130 people.
Two of the dead were US citizens.
Tamimi, who lived in Nabi Salah, north of Ramallah, assisted the suicide bomber, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, by scouting out a target and leading him into Sbarro on August 9, 2001.
In a television interview years later, she said she chose Sbarro because of its large number of patrons. In the same interview, she smiled when told the bombing had killed more children than the three she had been aware of.
The charges for which Tamimi’s extradition was requested by the US were for “conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals outside the US, resulting in death.”
In 2003 Tamimi was sentenced to 16 life sentences and 15 years for the bombing but she was released in 2011 as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoners-exchange with Hamas. She moved to Jordan immediately after her release, where she was given a hero’s welcome by Muslim Brotherhood activists and feted by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was killed in the attack, told The Jerusalem Post
in response to the Jordanian decision that “four years have passed since the sealed complaint was filed with a judge in Washington. It seems reasonable that the Jordanians have known for some time that the US had an interest in bringing Tamimi before a US judge and that there were ups and downs in those discussions. Jordan is not a democracy, it is a monarchy where governments are created by the king at will.
“When the rest of the world is told something is illegal in Jordan a discerning observer would understand that the people who run Jordan have decided that such and such is now illegal. What’s beyond doubt is that in 1995 Jordan signed an extradition treaty with the US and nothing changed between 1995 and 2017. They certainly don’t have a new constitution,” he said.
“It’s worth pointing out that Tamimi’s first stop when she arrived in Jordan in October 2011 was to a courthouse, the Family Court of Jordan in Amman, where there was a celebration – a public reception to celebrate her freedom and return home.”