“THE Australian Jewish community was in mourning this week,” reported The AJN 20 years ago, on Friday, August 17, 2001. “The death of 15-year-old Malki Roth in the Sbarro bombing catapulted Israel’s crisis into personal grief for much of this community.”
Fifteen innocent people were killed in the terrorist attack just a few days earlier, when a guitar case packed with nails was detonated at the central Jerusalem pizza restaurant. Among the victims were seven people aged between just two and 16. Scores of other diners were wounded.
Reflecting on the death of his daughter at the time, Arnold Roth told The AJN, “This was the extinguishing of a precious life.”
Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, who masterminded the attack and drove the bomber to the restaurant, was apprehended by Israel soon afterwards and sentenced to 16 life terms in an Israeli jail. But in 2011, she was one of more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners freed in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, who had been held hostage in Gaza for five years.
Since that time, Tamimi has lived in Jordan, feted as a celebrity, and expressing her joy at the high death toll the Sbarro bombing inflicted.
Determined to bring her back to justice, Arnold and his American-born wife Frimet have long called for her to be extradited to the US, as Malki and another victim held American citizenship.
A warrant was issued, but insisting the extradition treaty between the countries was never ratified, Jordan has never acted on it.
The latest evidence, however, appears to show that the treaty was indeed signed.
With that in mind, as the community marks 20 years since Malki’s death, the Roths are hoping their sustained campaign may bear fruit.
Pressure is mounting within Washington for the US to withhold foreign assistance from Jordan, and they’re urging the Australian government – who they claim have been reticent to speak out – to also take a stand.
Twenty years on, we share their hope that the authorities, both here and Stateside, will take action, so that the unrepentant, bragging terrorist who has Malki’s blood on her hands will soon be back behind bars, where she belongs.