The family of an Israeli-American girl killed in a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001 is seeking to meet with President Joe Biden in hopes of forcing Jordan to extradite a woman convicted in the deadly bombing.
Malki Roth’s parents turned to Biden on Sunday asking to meet the president when he comes to Jerusalem this week. They want the president to pressure Jordan, a close American ally, to send Ahlam Tamimi to the United States for trial.
“We are bereaved parents like you, sir. We have a burning feeling that the injustice following the murder of our child is winning,” Frimet and Arnold Roth wrote in their letter. “We ask that you address this issue as only the leader of the United States can.”
The Roths have been campaigning for Ahlam Tamimi’s extradition since she was freed by Israel in a prisoner swap with the militant group Hamas in 2011. As part of the deal, Tamimi was sent to her native Jordan, where she lives freely and is a familiar face in the media. Jordanian authorities have rejected calls for his extradition.
On August 9, 2001, a Palestinian suicide bomber walked into a pizzeria in Jerusalem and blew himself up, killing 15 people. Two US citizens, including 15-year-old Malki Roth, were among the dead.
Tamimi, who picked the target and guided the suicide bomber there, was arrested weeks later and sentenced by Israel to 16 life sentences. Since her release, she has expressed no remorse and has even boasted of being satisfied with the high death toll. In a 2017 interview with The Associated Press, she said Palestinians have the right to resist Israel by any means, including deadly attacks.
Roth has repeatedly called on US authorities to pressure Jordan, which has received billions of dollars in US aid, to hand over Tamimi for trial.
The United States has charged Tamimi with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals. The charge was filed under seal in 2013 and announced by the Justice Department four years later. His name has been added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.
The United States and Jordan signed an extradition treaty in 1995. But in 2017, Jordan’s High Court blocked his extradition, saying the treaty had never been ratified.
Two years ago, the Trump administration said it was considering suspending aid to Jordan over the case, but ultimately no action was taken.
Jordan is one of the United States’ closest partners in the Arab world, seen as a force for moderation and stability in the volatile Middle East. US officials seem reluctant to trigger a diplomatic crisis with a key ally.
“Something is obviously seriously wrong with the pursuit of America’s most wanted fugitive,” the Roths wrote in their letter, sent to Biden by the US Embassy.
“We want to better explain this to you in a face-to-face meeting,” they added. “We want you to look us in the eye, Mr. President, and tell us how the King of Jordan can be a worthy ally.”
Biden is expected to land in Israel on Wednesday before traveling to a Middle East summit in Saudi Arabia on Friday. He does not intend to be in Jordan, although Jordanian officials are expected at the summit.
There was no immediate comment from the White House or the Jordanian Royal Hashemite Court.
Roth’s letter was sent days after the family of a Palestinian-American journalist killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank lashed out at Biden over his administration’s response to his dead.
Relatives of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh express ‘sorrow, outrage and (a) sense of betrayal’ in letter accusing US of trying to clear Israeli responsibility for her death .
A US investigation concluded that Abu Akleh was likely killed by Israeli fire, but also said there was “no reason to believe” she was deliberately targeted. Israel claims Abu Akleh was killed in a shootout with Palestinian militants, and it is unclear who fired the fatal shot. Palestinians say Israel intentionally killed her.
The White House declined to comment on the letter or the request to meet the family during their visit.