Abdullah getting some rare heat from DC

AP reported on Tuesday that the Trump Administration is considering withholding aid from Jordan to pressure it into extraditing Ahlam Tamimi.

King of Jordan Abdullah II addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France January 15, 2020. (photo credit: VINCENT KESSLER/ REUTERS)
King of Jordan Abdullah II addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France January 15, 2020.
King Abdullah’s Jordan seems to have a weakness for terrorists who kill Israelis, so much so that it appears to be on a collision course with its greatest ally, the United States, over the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi.
Tamimi, one of the organizers of the bombing at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001 that killed 15 people, including two with American citizenship, is living freely in Jordan. So too is Ahmed Daqamseh, the terrorist who murdered seven Israeli school girls at the “Island of Peace’’ in Naharayim in 1997. He was released from a Jordanian jail in 2017 after serving a 20 year sentence.
None of Daqamseh’s victims had American citizenship, so this never turned into a contentious issue between Amman and Washington.
Not so Tamimi.
AP reported on Tuesday that the Trump Administration is considering withholding aid from Jordan to pressure it into extraditing Tamimi. The report came ahead of Abdullah’s scheduled video appearance before the Senate and House foreign relations committees on Wednesday where he is expected to voice opposition to any Israeli plan to extend its sovereignty to any parts of the West Bank.
He is expected to be asked about the Tamimi case and may have to weigh the damage to his country caused by a possible cut in aid against the negative fallout domestically of extraditing Tamimi. Tamimi enjoys support among Jordan’s large Palestinian population.
With US officials frequently expressing support and appreciation for Abdullah and the role he has played in the fight against ISIS – some 3,000 US troops are stationed in Jordan – taking in Syrian refugees and the peace treaty with Israel, this type of public tension with Washington is not something Abdullah is accustomed to.
Like Daqamseh, Tamimi – who was affiliated with Hamas – served some prison time for her terror. She was convicted in 2003 in Israel and began serving 16 life-sentences before being freed along with 1027 Palestinian prisoners for the release of Gilad Schalit in 2011.
While most of those released prisoners were sent to Gaza and the West Bank, Tamimi and her husband went to Jordan, where she was born. About 100 of the prisoners released in the Schalit deal have been re-arrested for committing security-related offenses.
In Jordan, Tamimi became a media personality, expressing no remorse for her actions and in one interview admitted selecting Sbarro for the attack because it was a favorite for families.
Among her victims were Malka Roth, 15, and Shoshana Yehudit Greenbaum, 31, a tourist who was five months pregnant. Both were American citizens, and Roth’s parents have waged a long battle to bring Tamimi to justice in the US. She is on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.
Extraditions, often complicated, are still not rare on the international scene, and over the last 12 years between 350 to 600 people have been extradited to the US each year from the over 100 countries around the world with whom the US has extradition treaties. Jordan has extradited three people in the past to the US.
In 2017 the US Department of Justice, under legislation that allows for the prosecution of terrorists who killed Americans overseas, leveled charges against Tamimi. Shortly thereafter, Jordan’s court ruled against the extradition, saying that its 1995 extradition treaty with the US was not valid because it was not ratified by the Jordanian parliament.
However, last November a State Department report said that the US views the extradition treaty as valid. That report followed inquiries made by two US Congressmen, Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, and Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee.
Last month a group of House Republicans, apparently fed up with Jordan’s foot dragging on the matter, wrote Jordan’s ambassador to the US that “seeing Jordan provide a confessed bomber with legal impunity while rebuffing an arrest warrant and extradition request from its most significant ally and friend, the United States, amounts to a deeply troubling scenario.
“We believe it is of the highest importance to US/Jordan relations that an outcome is found that honors Jordanian law while ensuring the unrepentant terrorist and murderer of innocent Americans is brought to US justice,” they wrote.
AP reported that the threat of withholding aid came in a letter that the next US envoy to Jordan, Henry Wooster, wrote in answer to a question on the matter posed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
“The United States has multiple options and different types of leverage to secure Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi’s extradition,” Wooster wrote, according to the report. “We will continue to engage Jordanian officials at all levels not only on this issue, but also on the extradition treaty more broadly. US generosity to Jordan in Foreign Military Financing as well as economic support and other assistance is carefully calibrated to protect and advance the range of US interests in Jordan and in the region.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, Jordan is the third largest recipient of annual US foreign aid, after Afghanistan and Israel. It receives some $1.5 billion in various forms of economic and military aid a year, with this annual aid to Jordan having nearly quadrupled over the last 15 years. The assistance that will be given this year will be even more important to Jordan as its economic crisis deepened in the wake of the coronavirus.