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The US Department of Justice announced on Tuesday its first ever extradition request to try a Hamas terrorist who murdered Americans during the Second Intifada.
Prior to US President Donald Trump taking office, the only legal proceedings against such terrorists have been criminal proceedings in Israeli courts or civil wrongful death proceedings brought by the families of victim, not by the US government, in US courts.
The request is addressed to Jordan to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, who was in Israeli jails for multiple murders connected to the August 9, 2001 Sbarro Pizza suicide bombing, but was released in the 2011 Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange.
15 civilians were killed in the midday attack, including 7 children and a pregnant woman, and 130 were wounded. Tamimi scouted for a target before leading the bomber, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, to the restaurant.
They arrived just before 2:00 p.m., when the restaurant was filled with customers and pedestrian traffic outside was at its peak.
Tamimi departed before Masri, thought to be carrying a rigged guitar case or wearing an explosive vest weighing 5 to 10 kilograms full of explosives, nails, nuts and bolts, detonated his bomb.
She is currently a television host in Jordan, has hosted Hamas member Saleh Arouri (who ordered the kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers in June 2014), bragged of her involvement in other murders of Israelis and is considered as a symbol of the Palestinians fight.
Jordan will have to decide between honoring its strong alliance to the US, and trying to avoid offending its majority Palestinian population and an anti-extradition trend in its court system, according to Shurat Hadin which is representing the family of the victim Chana Nachenberg who was grievously wounded in the bombing and remains in Israel to this day in a coma.
According to Shurat Hadin President Nitsana Darshan- Leitner: “We are glad that the US Department of Justice has decided to move forward against this notorious mass murderer. We have been requesting for a long time that this unrepentant Palestinian terrorist be rearrested, extradited and prosecuted by American law enforcement officials.
“It was outrageous that Israel released this criminal with so much innocent blood on her hands and who has publicly rejoiced that she killed 8 Jewish children. For too long Jordan has become a safe haven for Palestinian terrorists and, hopefully, this is a change of policy for the new Trump administration, to start to pursue the numerous Palestinians who have killed US citizens in Israel,” she said.
Nachenberg’s father, Yitzhak Bennett Finer, responded to the news: “We applaud the efforts of the Department of Justice in trying to bring Tamimi to justice and we hope they’ll be successful.
Our daughter Chana Nachenberg had the prime of her life taken from her… as a result of this inhuman act of the heinous bombing… Her daughter Sarah has grown up without a mother and her husband David without the love of his wife.”
Recently, a delegation of Department of Justice prosecutors visited Israel to meet with law enforcement officials and American families of the terrorist victims as part of efforts to promote the case.