Photo Credit: Roth Family
Malki Roth in 1997.

U.S. Bill Would Enforce Extradition Treaty With Jordan

 

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On August 9, 2001, 21-year-old Jordanian national Ahlam Tamimi, carried out her first successful terror attack. She was the first woman ever to be recruited by Hamas, having joined the Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades, the militant wing of Hamas.

Tamimi, an Islamic extremist, wanted to murder as many religious Jewish children as possible, so she intentionally chose Sbarro, a pizzeria near a religious school that many children frequented over the summer. Hamas set her up with her co-conspirator earlier that day, a young man who was willing to become a human bomb. Tamimi disguised herself as an American tourist, and they pretended to be a couple as they traveled by taxi together from Ramallah to Jerusalem. The man carried a guitar case strapped to his back, with an explosive device hidden inside of it. Tamimi escorted him to Sbarro, and at approximately 1:55 PM, he walked inside, had something to eat, and then blew himself up.

Fifteen civilians were killed, including seven children and two U.S. citizens, 15-year-old Malki Roth and 31-year-old Shoshana Hayman, who was pregnant with her first child. Another young American woman, Chana Nachenberg, was among the 130 people injured. She has been in a vegetative state in a hospice in Tel Aviv since the attack. Her three-year-old daughter survived unscathed.

Tamimi worked as a news reader, and hours after helping to orchestrate mass murder, she walked onto the Ramallah-area set of Al-Istiqlal TV and elatedly reported about the massacre without implicating herself.

Tamimi was arrested and sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment; one for each of the people she helped to murder, and one for all of the maimed and injured she was responsible for. During a prison interview, Tamimi could be seen smiling gleefully upon discovering that more children than she initially thought had been killed.

One of the children murdered was Malki Roth. Her parents – Frimet, who was born in Queens, New York, and Arnold, a commercial lawyer from Australia – describe themselves as being Dati Leumi, or Zionist Orthodox. They made aliyah in 1988, when Malki was three years old.

Malki with her younger sister Haya in 1996.

Malki left behind three older brothers and three younger sisters. Kindhearted and talented, Malki played classical flute and composed her own music. She was especially close with her youngest sister, Haya, who is blind and brain-damaged. When the police handed the Roths their daughter’s phone that was cracked by nails and pieces of shrapnel, they saw that Malki had inscribed “Assur ledaber lashon harah” onto it, a reminder in Hebrew not to speak poorly of others.

Malki’s best friend, Michal Raziel, was also murdered at Sbarro, and they are buried alongside each other.

In 2011, the Roths received a phone call from the Ministry of Justice apologizing for having to inform them that Tamimi would be released. It was the first and only phone call the Roths ever received from an Israeli government official since their daughter’s murder. Tamimi’s release was part of a prisoner exchange agreement between Israel and Hamas in which 1,027 prisoners in Israel were freed for the release of Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier who had been held hostage by Hamas for over five years.

After her release, Tamimi told the Ammon News site, “I dedicated myself to the path of jihad for the sake of Allah, and Allah granted me success. Do you want me to denounce what I did? That’s out of the question. I would do it again.”

In a telephone interview with The Jewish Press, Roth reported, “A large part of the leadership of Hamas today is made up of people who walked free that day. Many people have been murdered since then by people who should have been serving life sentences in Israeli prisons. We believe that the Shalit deal was a catastrophe.”

Tamimi now lives comfortably in a modern apartment building in Amman, the capital of Jordan. From 2012-2016, she hosted a popular talk show entitled Nassim Al-Ahar (“Breezes of the Free”) on Hamas-affiliated Quds TV that exalted Palestinian terrorists. One of her guests, Hamas leader Saleh Arouri, advocated for kidnapping more IDF soldiers to ensure the release of more Palestinian prisoners.

Tamimi continually expresses pride in having committed her crimes, and devoutly believes that she is waging a religious war. Lauded as a hero and influencer, she has given talks across Arab states like Algeria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Tunisia and Yemen, in which she spews the vilest hatred against Israel and Jews. She has appeared on Al Jazeera, BBC Arabic, Jordan’s Roya TV and numerous other media platforms. In October 2021, Tamimi spoke at an Islamist conference for young women and girls in Istanbul, Turkey, where she glorified the idea of being a suicide bomber and equated it with attaining spiritual enlightenment.

She is still a Hamas operative under the umbrella organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is on the FBI “Most Wanted Terrorist” list. Her cousin and husband, Nizar Tamimi, is also a convicted terrorist who was sentenced to life in prison but was released in the Shalit prisoner exchange.

In 2012, weeks after the Shalit deal, Roth started investigating what could be done legally to extradite Tamimi. He discovered a law that allows the U.S. to prosecute a terrorist for an act of terrorism using a weapon of mass destruction outside of the U.S. if the victim is a U.S. citizen. Malki had American citizenship because of her mother.

In 1995, when Hussein was King of Jordan, an extradition treaty was signed. Now that his son, King Abdullah II is in power, that treaty has been declared invalid, which Roth said he knows from an inside source is untrue. He exclaimed, “All of this outrages me. Who knows what the experience of living through the murder of a child is? It’s something hideous. Now imagine the murderer has become famous, a TV personality, and the king of her country keeps her safe?”

A bill proposed by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla, The Recognition of the 1995 Jordan Extradition Treaty with the U.S. Act, would place sanctions on U.S. funding to Jordan until Hamas suicide bomber, Ahlam Tamimi, is extradited to the U.S. “Our U.S. tax dollars will not continue to flow to a country harboring a Hamas terrorist with American blood on her hands,” Steube said in a statement released by his office on April 25.

As of 2021, Jordan was the third-largest recipient of U.S. funding in the world.

In the 11 years since Tamimi has been freed, Roth feels completely abandoned and betrayed. “It’s not the Republicans or the Democrats, because both of them have been in power during the years since this woman was charged, and each of them has done as much as the other, which is nothing.”

He continued, “The establishment wants us to go away. It’s an agony, it’s a torture. There are lots of people who have betrayed us…. There is something about a young American Jewish girl and a young American Jewish woman who was pregnant, and another American Jewish woman who’s been unconscious all these years, there’s something about that that just doesn’t get to the level where people care.”

On May 13, President Biden met with King Abdullah II for the second time since July, 2021. Regarding future negotiations, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, advises, “Before King Abdullah lectures President Biden about Israel’s handling of Arab riots on Temple Mount, let him first fulfill his treaty obligations to extradite Palestinian terrorist who murdered 15-year-old Malki Roth, an American citizen, in 2001!”

The Roth family helps each other to heal by helping others, inspired by Malki who was passionate about her volunteer work with special needs children. They set up the Malki Foundation in her honor to assist thousands of Israeli and Arab families with children who have disabilities to get the therapy they need from home. Roth stated, “Malki was a wonderful person…We knew that we needed to do something to honor her life.”

Please sign the petition urging the U.S. president and secretary of state to ensure Jordan complies with treaty obligation. The link to the petition is Change.org/extraditeTamimi.

The Malki Foundation website is at kerenmalki.org.

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