Australian-born Arnold Roth’s long-running battle to bring a Palestinian terrorist before a US court for the murder of his teenaged daughter Malki has seen a major advance, with the top US Jewish communal body writing to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
In a January 16 letter, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations urged Blinken to raise the need for Tamimi’s extradition with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Roth told The AJN, “The most important of the roof bodies, an organisation that represents more than 50 major Jewish organisations, has done exactly what we’d been hoping for all along.”
Ahlam Tamimi masterminded the attack, selecting a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem which she and another terrorist bombed in 2001, murdering 16 innocents, including Malki Roth, 15.
Tamimi was captured, tried and sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences in Israel, but was released in a 2011 prisoner swap to free abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. She has been harboured by Jordan, where was acclaimed for the attack and expressed pride for it, becoming a celebrity TV host.
Pleas by Roth and his US-born wife Frimet for Tamimi to be extradited to the US, where courts have standing to try her, based on Malki’s American citizenship, have led nowhere.
In 2013, the US government filed criminal charges against Tamimi, who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, for the murders of US nationals, including Malki, and four years later applied unsuccessfully for her extradition.
The US maintained it cannot go further because Jordan has not ratified an extradition treaty. However, in 2019, legal proceedings under US Freedom of Information laws unearthed a 1995 letter to the State Department from the late King Hussein, father of Abdullah II, stating his ratification of the treaty.
For Roth, the finding of a Jordanian court that the country’s parliament — which mostly rubber-stamps the monarch’s decisions – has not ratified the treaty is a legal fiction.
In their letter to Blinken, the Conference’s chair Harriet P. Schleifer and chief executive William C. Daroff noted King Hussein’s ratification of the US-Jordan extradition treaty. “Jordan’s refusal to extradite Ahlam Tamimi represents a breach of the 1995 bilateral treaty between the United States and Jordan. Despite her confessions and incriminating statements, she has enjoyed immunity from justice, further exacerbating tensions and fostering an environment of hatred and extremism in the region.
“We believe that the United States should prioritise Tamimi’s extradition in our bilateral relations with Jordan. We suggest a comprehensive review of the leverage that could be applied by the United States to signal the importance of compliance with US law and principles. We urge the State Department to engage in a robust diplomatic dialogue with Jordan’s leadership, stressing the importance of upholding international agreements and commitments to justice … We also request that you raise the issue and seek tangible progress on Tamimi’s extradition with King Abdullah II.”
A 2022 letter from Malki’s parents to Roger Noble, then Australia’s ambassador for counter-terrorism, received a sympathetic response but Noble replied that, aside from a watching brief, the extradition “is ultimately a matter for the governments of the United States and Jordan”.
The Roths were hit by further tragedy in December when a son-in-law, IDF Master-Sergeant Naftali Yonah Gordon, a reservist, was killed in action in Gaza.