The US is requesting the extradition of a Palestinian terrorist who murdered 15 people, including two US citizens, in a Jerusalem bomb attack in 2001.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday it is seeking the extradition of Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Palestinian woman and Jordanian national who drove a Hamas suicide bomber to a Jerusalem restaurant, where the terrorist detonated himself, murdering 15 people, including two US nationals.
The unsealed DOJ criminal complaint charges Al-Tamimi, a terrorist in her mid-30s, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals outside the US, resulting in death. The charge is related to Al-Tamimi’s participation in an Aug. 9, 2001, suicide bomb attack at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two US citizens, Malka Roth and Shoshana Yehudit (Judy) Greenbaum. Four other US nationals were among the approximately 122 others injured in the attack, including Chana Nachenberg, who remains in a coma more than 15 years later.
A warrant for Al-Tamimi’s arrest and an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant were also unsealed. The criminal charge had been under seal since July 15, 2013.
“Al-Tamimi is an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims. The charges unsealed today serve as a reminder that when terrorists target Americans anywhere in the world, we will never forget – and we will continue to seek to ensure that they are held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord.
“We have never forgotten the American and non-American victims of this awful terrorist attack,” said US Attorney Channing Phillips. “We will continue to remain vigilant until Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi is brought to justice.”
“The bombing that she planned and assisted in carrying out on innocent people, including children, furthered the mission of a designated terrorist organization,” said Assistant Director in Charge Andrew Vale, of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI continues to work with our international partners to combat terrorists like Al-Tamimi and hold them accountable.”
Al-Tamimi’s Role in the Mass-Casualty Attack
Al-Tamimi was attending school and working as a journalist for a television station at the time of the Sbarro bombing. She had agreed that summer to carry out attacks on behalf of Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which is designated by the US as a terrorist organization.
On Aug. 9, 2001, Al-Tamimi met in Ramallah with Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, the suicide bomber who was carrying an explosive device concealed within a guitar, and they traveled to Jerusalem, where she led him to a crowded downtown area. He entered the Sbarro pizza restaurant and detonated the bomb in a mass-casualty attack. Seven of the dead victims were children.
Al-Tamimi was arrested and pleaded guilty in an Israeli court in 2003 to multiple counts of murder. She was sentenced to 16 life terms in prison, but served only eight years of the sentence before being released in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange between the government of Israel and Hamas for the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Al-Tamimi was returned to Jordan, where she became host of a Hamas television show.
The Jordanian courts ruled that their constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals.
On FBI’s ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ List
“The US has worked and will continue to work with its foreign partners to obtain custody of Al-Tamimi so she can be held accountable for her role in the terrorist bombing,” the DOJ stated. The FBI also announced on Tuesday that Al-Tamimi has been placed on its list of Most Wanted Terrorists.
The maximum penalty for a person convicted of this charge is a lifetime prison term or death.