The United States is mulling the options available to force Jordan into extraditing Ahlam Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi, the terrorist who helped plan and execute the 2001 Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The attack, which took place during the Second Intifada, killed 15 people and left another 145 maimed and wounded. Two of the dead were American citizens. A third US citizen was left in a vegetative state; although she is not dead, neither is Joanne Chana Nachenberg functioning among the living.
Tamimi, who appears on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, is charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against American nationals.
She was convicted by an Israeli Military Court and received multiple life sentences for the murders and casualties, but later was released in 2011 under the prisoner swap deal Israel made in order to secure the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held for more than five years in Gaza by the ruling Hamas terrorist group.
Tamimi immediately moved to Jordan after her release and has lived there as a popular media star ever since.
A group of New York State rabbis banded together last year to urge House Judiciary Committee leader Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) to enforce the terrorist’s extradition.
According to a report by The Associated Press, the terrorist claims that because she was tried and convicted under Israeli law she cannot be charged with a crime against the United States. The claim is inaccurate, one reason Jordan is protecting her so vigorously.
In response to questions posed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the issue of leverage, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Maghreb and Egypt Henry Wooster wrote, “The United States has multiple options and different types of leverage to secure Ahlam Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi’s extradition.
“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,” he added.
Wooster’s name has been raised as potential future US Ambassador to Jordan.
There is a strong possibility that one of the above-mentioned interests is likely to be President Donald Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan, which the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah II, has fiercely opposed on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and his nearly 80 percent so-called “Palestinian Arab” population, much of which pledges allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood rather than the Hashemite Bedouin monarchy.
The Jordanian king is expected to speak with US Congressional committees in July about Israel’s plans to begin its first steps with Trump’s “Deal of the Century” and extend sovereignty to her towns and villages in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Abdullah is also expected to raise the issue of Tamimi’s extradition at that time as well.