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US lawmakers threaten Jordan over refusal to extradite ex-Palestinian prisoner

May 12, 2020 at 3:31 pm

37-year old Palestinian prisoner, Ahlam Al-Tamimi, is on FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list

A group of Republican members of Congress have threatened Jordan with sanctions if it fails to extradite Ahlam Al-Tamimi, in a campaign lead by an American pro-Israel lobby group demanding Amman hand over the former Palestinian prisoner.

Al-Tamimi, who was convicted over the 2001 bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria, was freed ten years later as part of a mass prisoner exchange to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. In 2013 the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against her. Four years later the FBI placed the 40-year-old Jordanian national on its “most wanted” list and formally requested her extradition.

Al-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, however, refused to extradite Al-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.

Jordan’s refusal has been a source of tension between Amman and Washington. Lawmakers in the Hashemite Kingdom urged parliament to reject US extradition demands for Al-Tamimi.

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Earlier this month, Congressman Greg Steube along with six Republican colleagues renewed demands for Al-Tamimi’s extradition in a letter delivered to Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar.

“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 letter threatened Jordan with sanctions noting that the US Congress had legislated sanctions in December 2019 that applies to “a country which has notified the Department of State of its refusal to extradite to the United States any individual indicted for a criminal offense.” The letter insisted that the US had an extradition order that needed to be respected.

According to the Jewish News Syndicate, pro-Israeli lobby group the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) was behind the letter and has long been raising awareness about Al-Tamimi’s case and calling for her extradition.

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