Will the US consider withholding assistance to Jordan as leverage to secure the extradition of a terrorist wanted in connection with an attack that killed American citizens? Henry Wooster, US President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as ambassador to Jordan, said in a response to questions posed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that “all options” are on the table. The story was first reported by AP.
Ahlam Tamimi helped plan and aided the 2001 Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada, causing 145 casualties including 15 fatalities. Two of the fatalities had American citizenship.
Tamimi, who is on the FBI’s “most wanted” list, was tried and sentenced by an Israeli Military Court to multiple life sentences, but was later released under the 2011 prisoner swap agreement Israel made with Hamas to secure the release of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. She moved to Jordan after her release and has lived in freedom ever since.
According to a document viewed by The Jerusalem Post, Senator Cruz asked Wooster what options and leverage the United States has in order to secure Tamimi, including potentially withholding assistance to the government of Jordan.
“The United States has multiple options and different types of leverage to secure Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi’s extradition,” Wooster replied. “We will continue to engage Jordanian officials at all levels not only on this issue, but also on the extradition treaty more broadly,” he added. “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.”
Asked if he could commit to using those options and leverage to secure Tamimi’s extradition, Wooster answered: “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.”
A Republican Congressional staffer told the Post that the Jordanian refusal to extradite Tamimi is making it “increasingly viewed as a problematic ally that harbors terrorists.”
According to Shurat HaDin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner: “We applaud the US Senate’s threat of cutting aid to the Hashemite Kingdom over its refusal to extradite Al-Tammi. She is an unrepentant murderer who expressed happiness over the murder of innocent Jewish children. It was a massive mistake for Israel to have ever released this vicious terrorist.
“For families like those of Channa Nachenberg who remains hospitalized until today, Al-Tammi’s ability to roam freely in Jordan remains a bitter open wound. She must be brought to justice in the United States as quickly as possible. If Jordanian leadership refuses, all aid and security assistance to this unstable regime should be withheld. Al-Tammi is an outrage that must be stopped.”