In the face of emotional pleas from a young terror victim's family, President Joe Biden on Monday passed up an opportunity to press Jordan's King Abdullah II on the Palestinian terrorist who remains a free woman in the Middle Eastern kingdom.
Although the White House maintains it is working to extradite Hamas terrorist Ahlam Tamimi from Jordan, Biden neglected the issue entirely during his Monday afternoon meeting with King Abdullah. Neither the public meeting nor the White House readout of what the leaders discussed privately included any mention of Tamimi.
Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter was killed in the 2001 bombing of an Israeli restaurant carried out by Tamimi, said the United States is "betraying its own values" by not raising the issue.
"The United States is betraying its own values, its own commitment to justice, and this I find to be inexplicable," Roth told the Washington Free Beacon following Biden’s meeting with Jordan’s king. "There’s always a price when you trash core values."
Ahead of Biden's meeting with the Jordanian king, Roth and his wife Frimet took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal, urging Biden to press for Tamimi's extradition. "The president, a grieving parent himself, pledged during his inauguration speech to write ‘an American story of decency and dignity,'" the parents wrote last week. "Is anything more dignified than doing justice?"
Abdullah’s meeting at the White House came on the tail end of a three-week trip to the United States. The Jordanian leader is lobbying for an extension of U.S. foreign aid to Jordan, which is set to expire next year. Roth said aid provides the perfect leverage for the Biden administration to get cooperation on the case of Tamimi, who was released to Jordan through a 2011 prisoner swap.
"The degree of dependence on the United States is huge," Roth said. "The notion in principle terms that the United States should use its irreplaceable, key role in Jordanian affairs to look after American interests, and in this case, not political interests, but the interests of simple justice, is self-evident."
"Why aren't people as shocked as I am? I don't know, I'm really baffled by this," Roth said.
The Trump administration set the stage for America to take action on the case of Tamimi. In 2017, the Department of Justice unsealed the details of Tamimi’s charges in the deadly 2001 attack, which killed 15 people including two Americans. Tamimi was also added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List, where she still remains. Trump’s State Department said in 2019 that Jordan was required to hand over Tamimi based on a 1995 extradition treaty, but Jordan refused to comply.
A White House National Security Council spokesman said the United States seeks "[Tamimi's] extradition and the government of Jordan’s assistance in bringing her to justice."
Tamimi lives with her family in Jordan and regularly discusses the successful terrorist attack that killed Roth’s daughter, Malki Roth. Shortly after her 2011 release, Tamimi said she would "do it again" if given the chance.
"I dedicated myself to the path of jihad for the sake of Allah, and Allah granted me success," Tamimi said in a Jordanian television interview. "Do you want me to denounce what I did? That's out of the question. I would do it again."
Tamimi became a regular contributor on Al-Quds TV, a now-defunct Hamas-run propaganda outlet, and is a columnist for Egypt’s Arabi 21, where she regularly praises Palestinian terrorists. In a column published Monday, for example, Tamimi praises fellow terrorist Qahira Saadi, who drove a suicide bomber to the center of Jerusalem and killed three Israeli civilians. Saadi, described as a "liberated captive," was also released in the 2011 prisoner exchange.
Roth said Tamimi is treated as a "success model" in the Arab world.
"The murderer has had her own damned TV program, and she gives speeches where thousands of people come along," Roth said. "She’s been shipped all over the Arab world to make speeches because she’s such a fantastic example, and students at the Jordan Media Institute call her a success model."
Roth said Biden should have taken a "moral stand" with King Abdullah to press for Tamimi’s extradition.
"I'm compelled by the language that Biden has used himself about himself—he talks about principles and values, and he speaks about dignity," Roth said. "There are moral stands that a leader like Biden, the leader of the United States, can take, and can use as an instrument of policy, particularly foreign policy."
Biden during the meeting referred to Abdullah as a "good, loyal, and decent friend," adding that the United States "will always be there for Jordan."
Those who argue against pressing for Tamimi’s extradition say it would cause Jordan’s large Palestinian population to rise against King Abdullah, destabilizing the region. Similar arguments were made ahead of the Trump administration's move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and after the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. Neither action resulted in lasting turmoil.
Jordan will receive approximately $1.65 billion in total financial and military assistance from the United States in 2021. This week alone, America directly transferred over half-a-billion dollars to Jordan’s treasury, the first part of an $845 million grant.
Israeli authorities arrested Tamimi shortly after the 2001 bombing and sentenced her to 16 life sentences. Judith Shoshana Greenbaum, a 31-year-old teacher from New Jersey, was also murdered in Tamimi’s attack.
"I'm coming at this as the father of a child, a child who was an American citizen who was murdered by this woman," Roth said. "You've got to bring this person to justice."