US Republicans threaten Jordan with sanctions for refusing to extradite Ahlam Tamimi over Israeli bombing

US Republicans threaten Jordan with sanctions for refusing to extradite Ahlam Tamimi over Israeli bombing
Jordan has refused to extradite Ahlam Tamimi to the US, where she faces life imprisonment over the 2001 bombing of a Jerusalem restaurant.
3 min read
11 May, 2020
Tamimi was released from Israeli prison in a 2011 prisoner exchange [FBI]
A number of Republicans in the US Congress have threatened Jordan with sanctions if it fails to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, a Jordanian national previously convicted over the 2001 bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria.

Congressman Greg Steube renewed demands to see Tamimi extradited to the United States in a letter delivered to Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar late last month.

"As lawmakers ourselves, 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," Steube wrote in the letter signed by six other Republican Congressmen.

The US Justice Department filed criminal charges against Tamimi in 2013, two years after she was freed from Israeli prison as part of a mass prisoner exchange to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas militants for over five years.

In 2017, Washington formally requested Tamimi's extradition from Jordan, where she has lived since her release from Israeli prison.

Tamimi can be tried in the US as two of the victims of the 2001 bombing of a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem were American citizens. 

Jordan has refused to extradite Tamimi, citing the fact that parliament has not yet ratified an extradition treaty signed between the two allied nations. Washington maintains that the treaty is valid and must be abided by.

Steube and fellow Congressmen Paul Gosar, Ted Yoho, Doug Lamborn, Brian Mast, Scott Perry, and Louie Gohmert have now pressed Jordan to extradite Tamimi or face sanctions under a December 2019 law.

The law prevents from receiving US aid any country that violates an extradition treaty in relation to individuals wanted on charges for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

"The potential seriousness of these sanctions provisions reflect the deep concern of the Congress, the Administration and the American people," read the letter, released by pro-Israel lobby organisation Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) last week.

"We believe it is of the highest importance to US/Jordan relations that an outcome is found that honours Jordanian law while ensuring this unrepentant terrorist and murderer of innocent Americans is brought to US justice." 

Jordan is the third largest recipient of US aid in the world, and Washington is the Jordanian government's most significant financial backer.

In 2018, the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding for the US to provide Jordan with more than $6 billion in assistance over the next five years.

Tamimi was originally sentenced to 16 life sentences in Israel over the killing of 15 people, including seven children and a pregnant woman, in the 2001 bombing of a Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem.

The attack - which took place at the height of the Second Intifada - also injured 145 people.

She has allegedly admitted to scouting the restaurant as a target and guiding suicide bomber Izz al-Din al-Masri to its location.

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