No Justice: No Peace: The case of the Sbarro murders mastermind

AuthorDr. Alex Grobman
Published date29 March 2021
Date29 March 2021
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
No mention was made as to why the Red Notice had been cancelled, which notifies law enforcement in all their member countries about fugitives who should be arrested until "extradition, surrender, or similar legal action." Red Notices assist police in bringing criminals to justice who have committed murder, rape, child abuse or armed robbery, even when the initial crime had been committed many years before. [2]

The Sbarro bombing killed 15 people, including two US nationals. Four other US nationals were among the approximately 122 others injured in the attack. [3]

Accompanying a Suicide Bomber to the Target

On Aug. 9, 2001, Al-Tamimi met the suicide bomber, 23-year-old Izzedine al-Masri from Silat al-Harithiya, a member of the Hamas military wing Iz a Din al-Kassam, in Ramallah. Together, they went by car to Jerusalem. Having a young Arab woman dressed in a tight-fitting dress accompany a male suicide bomber to his target enabled the couple to seem part of the urban landscape, and less likely to arouse any suspicion. This is exactly how Al-Tamimi, at the time a 21-year-old journalism student at Birzeit University, guided the suicide bomber to the Sbarro pizza parlor in the heart of Jerusalem, without being detected.

As a resident of Ramallah, Al-Tamimi had been to Jerusalem on countless occasions, spoke fluent English with only a minor trace of an Arab accent, and possessed a Jordanian passport. If stopped, she would attempt to convince the police she was a Jordanian tourist on holiday.

Al-Tamimi had been the first woman the Hamas military wing recruited. After her first mission to hide a bomb in a beer can at a Jerusalem supermarket caused only minimal damage and just a few casualties, she wanted to prove women had a role in the all-male Hamas organization.

As they walked toward Sbarro's at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road, Al-Masri carried a guitar case on his back. Al-Tamimi had chosen Sbarro's because the restaurant was generally packed with families with young children.

After she left Al-Masri at the entrance to Sbarro, she fled on foot to the Damascus Gate and immediately boarded a sherut (taxi) to Ramallah. She described her experience on TV that the news of the bombing, heard on the sherut's radio in "the Zionist language," caused elation among the other passengers. The death toll was initially low (three dead Israelis), but it rose steadily. [4]

After returning to Ramallah, she went to the Palestinian Arab television studio where she was a newsreader and reported the horrific terrorist attack that she had planned and directed. [5]

An Israeli military court convicted Al-Tamimi to 16 life sentences. She completed only eight years before being freed on October 18, 2011, as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas. Included in the exchange was Gilad Shalit. Upon her release, she was deported to Jordan. [6]

Nizar Tamimi, who had participated in the 1993 murder of Chaim Mizrahi of Bet El, and sentenced to life in prison, was also freed as part of the agreement. Once Nizar, her cousin, and Al-Tamimi were released, they married. [7]

Attempts to Extradite Her to the US

Jordanian courts decreed that their constitution prohibited the extradition of Jordanian nationals, yet both countries signed the 1995 Extradition Treaty.

The US has worked to obtain custody of Al-Tamimi so she can be held accountable for her role in the terrorist bombing in accordance with the 1995 Extradition Treaty between Jordan and the US. Charges were brought against her in Washington on July 15, 2013, but sealed by the judge, while the US negotiated unsuccessfully, to have Jordan extradite her under the treaty. The FBI placed Al-Tamimi on its Most Wanted Terrorists list on March 14, 2017. [8]

Laith Nasrawin, a constitutional law professor at the University of Jordan, rejected the idea that Jordan was legally bound to extradite Al-Tamimi. "The 1995 extradition treaty, having not been ratified by the parliament, does not carry the weight of the law and is invalid from the court's perspective," she said. The treaty "may carry weight on an international level between the US and Jordan, but domestically and legally, the treaty is unconstitutional." [9]

Yet, in 1995 Jordan extradited Eyad Ismail Najim, a Jordanian citizen linked to the 1993 New York City bombing, right after the two countries signed the treaty. According to Jordanian officials acquainted with the case, Najim was extradited only after he formally agreed to be tried in the US, not because of a legal ruling. [10]

In Jordan, Al-Tamimi's case is a highly contentious issue, since the majority of Jordanians regard Israel as their adversary. Scores of Jordanians expressed their support for her on social media and appealed to the government to deny the request to extradite her. [11]

Al-Tamimi pleaded guilty in an Israeli court in 2003 to multiple counts of murder arising from the Sbarro suicide bomb attack and was sentenced to 16 life terms of incarceration. In the US, the maximum penalty for a person convicted of this charge is a life term of incarceration or death. The case is being prosecuted by the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section. [12]

Upon her discharge, she asked "Why is Ahlam defined as 'a terror[ist]'? I'm part of an independence movement, a national liberation movement, a resistance movement acting for its freedom. The clauses of the UN General Assembly [charter] are on my side." [13]

In an interview with Israeli TV Channel 1, she boasted "I have no regrets, and no Palestinian prisoner regrets what he or she has done. We were defending ourselves. What are we...

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