Thursday, March 23, 2017

23-Mar-17: Looking for justice in Jordan, Jerusalem and Washington

The article below originally appeared on the website of Times of Israel yesterday.

Father of Jerusalem bombing victim vows to keep pushing for terrorist’s extradition

After Jordan’s top court denies American request to arrest Ahlam al-Tamimi, who helped carry out 2001 Sbarro attack, Arnold Roth says he’ll take fight to court of public opinion
DOV LIEBER | Times of Israel | March 22, 2017, 1:27 pm  

Nearly 16 years ago, Arnold Roth lost his daughter Malki in a suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizza shop in central Jerusalem. Now he’s saying he won’t give up his fight to make sure a female terrorist who helped plan and carry out the attack sees justice.

Roth’s daughter was among 15 people killed in the August 9, 2001, bombing, and one of two American fatalities. On Monday, Jordan’s top court upheld an order refusing an American extradition order for Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, who was convicted over the bombing in an Israeli court but has been living free in Jordan the last several years.

Roth is vowing to continue to push for Tamimi to be shipped off to the US to be punished over the bombing, which also injured 122 people, including several Americans, when it ripped through the shop in the midst of the Second Intifada.

According to the US Justice Department, which recently unsealed the extradition order, Tamimi helped plan the bombing, including choosing the location for maximum casualties, and brought the suicide bomber to the restaurant.

Roth expressed great doubt over whether the Jordanian ruling was legitimate, rather than just a political cover-up.

“I’m skeptical based on years of seeing the way formal decisions are taken and announced in the Arab world,” Roth said.

Jordan’s top court ruled Tamimi couldn’t be handed over to the US because a 1995 extradition agreement between the two countries was never ratified by the Jordanian parliament.

“Perhaps there is a constitutional prohibition against extradition. But they have had more than two decades to figure that out,” said Roth, who is a practicing lawyer.

He added, however, that “looking back at news reports of 1995, when the extradition agreement was made, no one raised the issue of any constitutional barrier.”

“I want clearer heads than mine to look at this. For instance, the American authorities in Jordan,” he said.

US authorities did not react to the Jordanian ruling, and a Justice Department official declined to comment. However Roth, who says he has begun talking to US lawmakers about continuing to push for the extradition, said he understood the Americans had been caught off guard by Amman’s refusal.

“People are outraged and a lot of them are Americans. We’ve had a real outpouring of support and anger from people who have observed that Jordan gets a terrific media image in the US,” he said.

Now that Jordan has refused to allow Tamimi’s extradition, he said, “the next step has to do with helping the Jordanians understand the disgrace they’ve brought upon themselves by the unconscionable approach to this. And that involves talking to Congress, which I’ve started to move on, and alerting American public opinion.”

“It’s clear to us there is no one to talk to on the Jordanian side. It’s all about carrots and sticks,” he said.

“What they have done now is enough to be the fly in the ointment. It spoils the image. We will find ways, with friends, to help people come to fuller understanding in the role that Jordan plays,” he said.

Because Tamimi is considered a hero in Jordan, Roth asserted, “no politician will take the risk of handing her off to the Americans. They will come up with any excuses they need.”

“In a country where the king changes the government as often I as change shirts, it’s hard to take seriously the claim that the constitution prevents this or that,” he added.

There was no immediate comment from Jordanian officials.

In 2003, Tamimi pleaded guilty in an Israeli court to multiple counts of murder and was sentenced to 16 terms of life in prison, but was released and returned to Jordan in 2011 as part of the deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, for whom Israel exchanged 1,027 prisoners.

In March, Tamimi was charged by the US with “conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals outside the US, resulting in death.” She was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord called Tamimi “an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims.”

Roth, originally from Australia, and his wife Frimet Roth, who is from New York (and has blogged for The Times of Israel), have lived in Israel since 1988. After their daughter’s murder, they became active in seeking justice over the bombing and founded Keren Malki, or Malki Foundation, named for their daughter, which raises money for special-needs children.

Roth said he and Frimet are the only people who lost someone in the Sbarro bombing to pursue Tamimi, circulating a petition against the prisoner swap in 2011 and approaching the US Justice Department in the middle of 2012.

Roth also expressed “puzzlement” over the way the indictment of Tamimi has been handled by the US authorities.

“We’re puzzled, my wife and I, by the way in which the indictment was in the hands of the prosecutors for four years. We are wondering why the US is not being more forthright in putting the blame where it belongs, which is in the hands of the Jordanian authorities,” he said.

Hamas, the Gaza-based terror group that Tamimi was a member of, argued that the US has no right to extradite her because she was already freed by Israel in a prisoner exchange.

Roth challenged this argument, saying Tamimi was not absolved of her crime, but that her sentence, along with the other 1,026 prisoners released in the Shalit deal, was commuted, meaning that her sentenced was shortened “for pragmatic reasons.”

“But the commutations were made with conditions. In simple terms, it had to do with not going back to terrorism. And there is no question that Tamimi has breached those conditions,” said Roth.

Tamimi had hosted a weekly television show broadcast on Hamas’s satellite station, in which she continued to support terrorist attacks.

In September 2016, Tamimi suddenly stopped hosting the show.

Roth speculated that Tamimi was tipped off about the US indictment by someone in the Jordanian government, and so she quit her show to make herself “less high-profile.”

“For the first time since our daughter was murdered, we are surrounded by people want to help,” said Roth.

---
Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent. Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

21-Mar-17: Gaza's Hamas-driven terrorism: no longer just in Gaza

A mass of green: Not Gaza but Hamas supporters rally during
student elections on the campus of Birzeit University, near Ramallah
April 26, 2016 [Image Source: AFP]
Hamas along with some of its smaller terrorism counterparts in Gaza have been transferring much of their focus and energies to the West Bank and expanding their malign influence and operations there. This emerges from a reported delivered by the Shin Bet's head, Nadav Argaman, to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday (Monday). He was named to the post almost exactly a year ago.

These reports are a yearly event, and closely analyzed. From Times of Israel's summary:
Hamas has “significantly increased its efforts to advance terror attacks in the West Bank and Israel,” Argaman said, referring specifically to mass-casualty attacks. “Hamas has found itself in strategic distress and is interested in undermining the security situation in the West Bank through bombings,” he said. To thwart those attempts, Israel has stepped up its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting 1,035 suspected members. Some 114 terror cells were also broken up in 2016, as opposed to 70 the year before — a 62 percent increase, Argaman said.
Some 184 shooting attacks, 16 kidnapping attempts and 16 suicide bombings were thwarted by the Shin Bet in 2016, as were 84 other assorted attacks, mostly stabbings and car-rammings, he said. These figures did not include attacks prevented by Israel’s other security services, like the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police.
Some additional sound bytes from yesterday's briefing:
  • “We’re approaching the Passover holiday. There is no question that the terror networks, particularly Hamas, will try to escalate the situation and carry out terror attacks.” [Israel National News]
  • "Since October 2015, the Palestinian Intifada has sacrificed 256 martyrs and claimed 40 Zionist occupation settlers. Most of the Palestinian martyrs were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, while others were killed during protests in clashes or Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip." [Al-Manar, a terrorism-friendly Hezbollah affiliate which broadcasts news by web and TV from Lebanon]
  • "[D]espite the appearance of relative quiet, Hamas and jihadist groups are trying to mount terror attacks in Israel every day... Argaman said the region is undergoing geopolitical change that will reveberate for years to come, including the implications of the Iran nuclear agreement on terrorism in the Middle East [Haaretz, yesterday]
  • “...the quiet that we’re now experiencing – the relative quiet – is deceptive, a false quiet. Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror infrastructures worldwide are working every day to commit terror attacks... [Israel National News]
  • "Over the past two-and-a-half years, the terrorist group [Hamas] has been rearming in preparation for future conflict with the Jewish state..." [Times of Israel]
  • Over the past year, 16 Israelis and one foreign citizen were murdered in terror attacks inside Israel. [Israel National News]

21-Mar-17: Tamimi extradition: When it's claimed that something is illegal in Jordan...

Aljazeera's Arabic-language news did a poll on March 18, 2017.
Its viewers voted Ahlam Tamimi the biggest story of the week
[Image Source: Aljazeera video grab]
The Jerusalem Post has a report today ["Jordan turns down US extradition request for Sbarro terrorist", March 21, 2017] written by Ben Lynfield on efforts to bring our daughter's murderer to justice. It includes a portion of an interview they did last night with Arnold Roth. 

Extracts:
The ruling means that Tamimi will be able to continue her career as a television host admired for striking a devastating blow against the Israeli enemy rather than face trial and possible death penalty in the US. Tamimi caused the deaths of 15 civilians, including eight children and one pregnant woman and the wounding of 130 people. Two of the dead were US citizens...
Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was killed in the attack, told The Jerusalem Post in response to the Jordanian decision that “four years have passed since the sealed complaint was filed with a judge in Washington. It seems reasonable that the Jordanians have known for some time that the US had an interest in bringing Tamimi before a US judge and that there were ups and downs in those discussions. Jordan is not a democracy, it is a monarchy where governments are created by the king at will.
“When the rest of the world is told something is illegal in Jordan a discerning observer would understand that the people who run Jordan have decided that such and such is now illegal. What’s beyond doubt is that in 1995 Jordan signed an extradition treaty with the US and nothing changed between 1995 and 2017. They certainly don’t have a new constitution,” he said.
“It’s worth pointing out that Tamimi’s first stop when she arrived in Jordan in October 2011 was to a courthouse, the Family Court of Jordan in Amman, where there was a celebration – a public reception to celebrate her freedom and return home.”
King Abdullah II rules as monarch of the Hashemite
Kingdom of Jordan
We wrote about that extraordinary 2011 Jordanian gala reception two days ago [here]. Of the various challenges facing Tamimi, Jordan's court don't appear to be at the top of the list.

They also appear not to be a major concern of the kingdom's authoritative English-language news site, Jordan Times, which (as far as we can tell and we check daily) has not mentioned her or the extradition process even once since they became an issue a week ago. This is in sharp contrast to the general Arab public which voted strongly in an Aljazeera poll a week ago to declare Tamimi as the news person of the week (see photo at the top of this post).

One more aspect of the Jordanian court's ruling: given the extreme gravity of the charges against Tamimi, and the fact that she confessed in court when first tried and then over and again on television since then, might the Jordanian judges have considered placating the Americans by suggesting she stand trial for the same charges in Jordan? Whatever the merits, the fact is they didn't.

Readers wanting a better understanding of the Jordanian political system and its precious constitution ought to see "Jordan’s 2016 constitutional amendments: A return to absolute monarchy?" on the ConstitutionNet website. Also: "Jordan changes constitution to give King more power" (Aljazeera, April 26, 2016). Lots of choice quotes there that curious reporters and their editors could (but so far don't) use in giving context to Jordan's evasion of its 1995 extradition treaty obligations to the United States.

UPDATE March 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm: Over on Elder of Ziyon's outstanding site, there's a new Daled Amos post today ["Jordan Extradited A Terrorist, A Jordanian National, to the US, For the 1995 World Trade Center Bombing - So Why Not Now?"] that bears on these issues. It starts with this:
The story the Jordanians are telling us is that terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, who masterminded the Sbarro massacre, cannot be extradited to the US, because there is no treaty. The Jordanian High Court recognizes that an extradition treaty was signed with the US in 1995, but that it is null... The problem is that this is not true. The extradition treaty between the US and Jordan may or may not have been approved by the Parliament, but it was signed by King Hussein. More importantly, in 1995 Jordan did recognize the treaty. The New York Times recounts that the same treaty the Jordanian court is now saying is null, was in fact used to allow...
Click to read what it allowed. How likely is it that those learned Jordanian judges in Amman considered what Daled Amos has noticed?

Monday, March 20, 2017

20-Mar-17: The Hashemite Kingdom's courts have spoken: The murdering FBI fugitive will not be handed over

Tamimi arriving at Amman airport after being freed in the October 2011
Shalit deal
Over in Jordan, a decision by an important court was handed down today and reported this afternoon.

It confirms what we have understood for the past week since the United States Department of Justice unsealed a sealed 2013 complaint charging Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the Sbarro pizzeria massacre and our daughter's murderer: Jordan has no intention of extraditing Tamimi to the United States.
Jordan’s Court of Cassation rejected on Monday the request made by the US authorities to extradite ex-prisoner Ahlam al-Tamimi. The decision was issued during a court hearing chaired by a panel of adjudicators namely Judge Mohamed Ibrahim, Naji al-Zu’bi, and Yasseen al-Abdalat, among others. A judicial source told Jordan News Agency, PETRA, that the Kingdom and the United States signed an extradition treaty on March 28, 1995, but was not approved by the Jordanian parliament.
The case involves Ahlam al-Tamimi, a Palestinian anti-occupation activist with Jordanian citizenship. In August 2001, she played a major role in the anti-occupation attack on a Sbarro Pizzeria in Occupied Jerusalem. Tamimi was captured by Israel, tried, convicted, and made to serve eight years in prison out of her 16 life sentence before being released in an Israel-Hamas prisoner swap deal. She then became the host of a television show in Jordan. ["Jordan Cassation Court rejects extraditing Tamimi to US", Palestinian Information Center, March 20, 2017]
How many people made this decision? Was it unanimous? Are they all judges? The answers are not so clear, though we think Jordan uses the word cassation as some European countries do to indicate the highest, most supreme court in the land (and this page on a Jordanian government website seems to support that view). The US Embassy in Amman says that the "Court of Cassation is made up of a maximum of 15 judges. Five judges generally hear each case." Did that happen here? Who knows?

The government-controlled Petra report [here] mentioned above says the Court of Cassation was considering - and opted to approve - an earlier decision of an entity it calls the Amman Court of Appeal. Which leaves us wondering: this obviously means the lower court blocked Tamimi's extradition, and the higher court came to the same view. So who brought an appeal against the Amman Court of Appeal's decision to block Tamimi's extradition? And why? Who knows.

Also not so clear is why Jordan waited for 22 years before deciding that it was not going to ratify a treaty that it seemed keen to consummate back in the days of the Bill Clinton administration.

There's little reason to spend much time or many words tearing apart some of the self-serving rhetoric of this Arab report. Characteristic of its genre, it makes no mention of the crime - multiple murders - for which Tamimi was sentenced by an Israeli military court in 2003. Or that she admitted all the charges and made a full confession. Or that she has repeatedly boasted of how the murder of Israeli Jewish children caused her joy and absolutely no regrets. For matters like these, a discerning person will not turn to a news source called "Palestinian Information Center". And it's no wonder the people who do turn to it come away sympathizing with the absurdly-described "anti-occupation activist".

When the Arabic report says she "then became the host" of a TV show, they could have said - but didn't - that the show she hosts is produced by Hamas, that it's beamed (not only by satellite by a myriad of easily-accessed streaming-video websites) to a vast Arabic-speaking audience located in every part of the world, that it explicitly aims to boost and keep up the spirits of Palestinian Arab prisoners in Israeli jails (and their families) on terrorism and similar charges, and (which few seem to know) that she stopped being its presenter with no warning in September 2016.

It appears (we can't be certain) that she learned the Americans were on her trail at about that time, and promptly adopted a slightly lower profile.

Today's decision seems to have been confidently anticipated by Tamimi herself to judge from another report published on the same Arab website on March 17, 2017:
The family of Jordanian journalist Ahlam al-Tamimi has expressed confidence that Jordan’s judiciary would reject the US request to extradite her, saying it fully trusts the justice and integrity of courts in the country. “We are fully confident that the court of cassation will issue a ruling endorsing the verdicts made by the first instance and appeal courts that rejected the [US] extradition request,” the family stated in a press release on Thursday. “The case is still in Jordan’s court of cessation and a definitive decision is yet to be made,” the family said. “The Jordanian monarch, government, and judiciary will remain the guardians of their nationals and will not allow anyone to harm them or undermine their human value,” the family said with confidence. ["Tamimi’s family: We trust the justice of Jordanian courts", Palestinian Information Center, March 17, 2017]
So it seems their trust and belief was well-placed.

A much more sober account of what has just happened - based in part on the same Jordanian source as the report we have just mentioned - is published by the venerable Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
Jordan’s highest court has upheld a lower court decision to deny a U.S. request to extradite a woman who was involved in a suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two Americans. In the case of Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, the Court of Cassation upheld the decision on Monday reportedly because an extradition agreement between the two countries signed in 1995 was never ratified by the Jordanian parliament, according to the Petra news agency, citing an unnamed judicial source... Al-Tamimi, who is in her mid-30s and also is known as Khalti and Halati, is accused of being involved in the suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizza restaurant in 2001 that left 122 injured, including four Americans. The charge had been sealed since July 2013. In 2003, she pleaded guilty in an Israeli court to multiple counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison, but was released and returned to Jordan in 2011 as part of the controversial deal to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in which Israel exchanged 1,027 prisoners. The Justice Department is seeking her extradition to stand trial. According to the U.S. affidavit, Al-Tamimi traveled with the suicide bomber, led the bomber to a crowded area and provided instructions on how to detonate the weapon. She had agreed to carry out attacks on behalf of Hamas’ military wing, the affidavit said. The FBI has placed her on its Most Wanted Terrorist List. ["Jordan’s highest court upholds decision to deny US request to extradite terrorist", JTA, March 20, 2017]
So far, there has been no coverage from the mainstream news reporting media. This ought to surprise people. It certainly bothers us.

We think there's much here that needs to be verified, checked and documented and that, just because a legal source is said to have made a decision in Jordan, it doesn't necessarily follow that this amounts to a decision similar in gravity and respectability to a decision made by a superior court in another country. Unfortunately a lack of quality, inquisitive reporting makes real answers hard to find.

In any event, as people who are deeply interested in the outcome of both the legal process and the extradition process, we will keep looking into ways to encourage an outcome more consistent with the interests of justice.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

19-Mar-17: A thought about Jordan and its treaty obligations

Ahlam Tamimi the day after she arrived back in Jordan
October 19, 2011 [See below for more background]
Stephen M. Flatow whose daughter Aliza was murdered in a Palestinian Arab Islamic Jihad human bomb attack on an Israeli bus in 1995, has an op ed on the web site of the Jewish Press today ["Jordan Protects A Killer Of Americans – Where’s The Outrage In Washington?", March 19, 2017].

A brief extract:
The Trump administration has revealed that four years ago the U.S. secretly indicted a Palestinian-Jordanian terrorist who was involved in the murders of American citizens.
So why is Jordan still refusing to hand over the killer? The case involves Ahlam al-Tamimi, a Palestinian terrorist with Jordanian citizenship. In August 2001, she played a major role in the bombing of a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed – including American citizens Malki Roth and Shoshana Greenbaum – and four Americans were among the 122 people who were injured. Tamimi was captured by Israel, tried, and convicted, but served just eight years in prison before being released in an Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange. She then became the host of a television show in Jordan, and has boasted on air about her role in the Sbarro massacre...
Sure, it’s good that Ahlam al-Tamimi is now on America’s Most Wanted list. But when will the Palestinian killers of some 142 other Americans be added to the list?
More important, when is the U.S. government finally going to put meaningful pressure on those who shelter killers of Americans? The U.S. gave Jordan $393 million in aid last year. Is that just a blank check? Or is it time, perhaps, to make some of that aid conditional on Jordan surrendering killers of Americans?
The whole article is worth a few more moments of reading, here.

We posted this brief comment, below, on the article's page:
This shabby chapter in US/Jordan relations provides a good opportunity to recall that Jordan, with a population whose majority defines itself as Palestinian Arab, is and functions as another Palestinian entity - one arm of a three-sided structure that includes the Fatah/PA regime and the Hamas entity in Gaza.  
Mr Flatow's question ought to be echoed in many of Washington's corridors of power: With hundreds of US aid dollars flowing into its coffers annually, can Jordan be granted a blank check to do what's convenient for a Saudi ruling clan (the Hashemites) that aspires to keep holding onto a desert kingdom filled with self-styled Palestinians and their blood lust?  
Or will it honor its treaty obligations and hand the savage smiling murderer of Americans - including the murder of our fifteen year old daughter Malki - to extradition and the US justice system? 
It ought to be carefully explained to Jordan that answering that question the wrong way brings on uncomfortable penalties.
The photo at the top of this page is little-known. It comes from an online photo collection, Demotix, that is no longer on line. We archived it, fortunately, when it was still up.

In case you thought the Jordanians were embarrassed by the return of a mass murdering Jordanian woman, released from prison via an act of open extortion (the Shalit deal) and destined to spend her days in the shadows and fringes of Jordanian society, think again.

The photo shows a scene from a high-profile Jordanian reception for the happy murderer a day after she was released from her Israeli prison cell (October 18, 2011) and arrived back to her home-land via a brief stop-over in Cairo. This photo was taken on October 19, 2011.

And where was this glossy event conduction? The reception to honor the barbaric savage who explicitly sought to kill as many Jewish mothers and children as possible took place inside Jordan's Family Court complex in Amman. Whether or not they understand this, the authorities in Jordan were sending a repugnant message about law, order, decency, public endorsements and above all their view of the morality of blowing Jewish children to bits.

The Jordanian authorities, despite their thin protestations to the contrary, have never had a problem giving Ahlam Tamimi appropriate public platforms from which to give expression to her celebrity-murderer status. If there's even a one of them who's embarrassed by how this impacts on their moral standing, they're continuing to do a first-rate job of hiding it.

Below is the full page Demotix image from which the photo above was extracted.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

15-Mar-17: Sbarro and justice


We had the privilege yesterday of being asked by Prof. William A. Jacobson of the excellent Legal Insurrection site to contribute a comment to his article "U.S. to seek extradition of Ahlam Tamimi, the Savage of Sbarro Pizzeria bombing". 

If you haven't read it, can we suggest you do? It gives background and a framework for understanding yesterday's events in Washington - the announcement by the Department of Justice of meaningful legal steps against the woman who for years has publicly boasted of having masterminded the massacre-by-human-bomb at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria on August 9, 2001.

That woman, Ahlam Tamimi, lives the life of a celebrity in unimpeded freedom today in Amman, Jordan. Now, finally, there is a warrant out for her arrest and a prospect that she will be brought to trial in the United States under US law.

Here's what we wrote:
My wife and I were aware from about 2005 of efforts to have the mastermind of the Sbarro pizzeria massacre released on one spurious basis or another. Our daughter Malki was murdered there at the age of 15. We wrote and spoke against the idea of convicted terrorists being released early dozens of times and in several countries. Then in 2011 the Shalit Deal took shape. Israel catastrophically gave in to Hamas’ demands and Ahlam Tamimi’s name was in the walk-free list. 
We were shattered. Even before the deal was done, we predicted what this might mean and, in the years since then, most of what we feared has come to pass. In fact, in some ways, the reality has been even worse than that
We first approached the Department of Justice via a personal meeting with a large group of its senior people in Washington some months after the Shalit Deal was done. That was in early 2012. We asked for Tamimi to be brought up on charges in the United States. Our daughter was a US citizen, and the Koby Mandell Act requires US authorities in such situations to go after the terrorists wherever they are and bring them to court to face US justice
.
Five years later, it’s apparent that a sealed complaint was already been filed with a Washington DC court within about a year of that first meeting and prior to several subsequent meetings we had with them. We got vague messages that expressed support for what we wanted but no actionable information. We were immensely frustrated. We have a better understanding of why things were done that way. 
It’s evident as of today that the government’s lawyers are seriously intent on pursuing the Tamimi prosecution, and have been making vigorous efforts in secret. The obstacle is clear: Tamimi lives in Jordan where she was born, where most of her family lives and where the vast majority of the population call themselves Palestinians. The government of Jordan does not want to see her extradited. Our understanding is they are not co-operating with DoJ’s efforts. 
This is about justice in the truest sense of the word. When it affects others and not you, justice can seem an abstract notion. But it’s not an abstraction. Civilized societies cannot function when justice is trampled. 
We know there is more work to be done.
Arnold Roth
Click to enlarge. The unedited original can be
downloaded from the FBI website
We provided some comments as well to the editors at JewishPress.com:
Our daughter Malka Chana was murdered in the summer of 2001. In the years that have followed, my wife and I have lived through a multi-stage trauma with twists that could have been scripted for the movies. One of the most soul-destroying aspects has been the process of learning what people really mean when they talk about justice. People, in this context, means ordinary people on the street where we live but it also means prime ministers and presidents, secretaries of state and ambassadors, along with politicians of every rank and orientation. 
Today, we met with people from the US Department of Justice, some of whom we have met with for discussions repeatedly in the five years since I first went to Washington to ask them to bring Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who planted the human bomb at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria, to justice. If those earlier meetings were stressful and difficult, today's was in some ways even more difficult.  
This time, facts and events were openly discussed, unlike in the past, and we learned to our relief that the US government believes Tamimi will be convicted and that justice will be served. But there's an important bridge to cross first: she has to be brought to the United States, and this is something that requires the co-operation of America's valued ally in the Middle East, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 
The Jordanians speak about justice a great deal. But from watching them over the years, there's no doubt they mean something very different, something mostly unrecognizable to us, when they invoke the concept of "justice".  
My wife Frimet and I know that if justice is going to be done to the memory of our Malki, considerable pressure will be needed. We are now busy trying to find who is with us in that quest, and who is not. 
Obviously, justice is very much on our minds right now. In fact, that has been consistently true since August 9, 2001.

15-Mar-17: Again tonight: A Gazan rocket in search of Israelis

From a documentary video about Sdot Negev [here]
A rocket from Gaza crashed into southern Israel tonight around 10:15 pm, landing in the Sdot Negev region in what Ynet calls "an empty and uninhabited field". No injuries are reported at this stage, and no property damage. This, it bears repeating, was not the intention of the attackers doing the firing.

In a compact country, Sdot Negev - though relatively remote from the population centers of Israel - is hardly devoid of people. It includes within its boundaries 16 communities made up of two kibbutzim, twelve moshavim and two communal settlements. The population of Sdot Negev is mostly made up of Israelis from the Dati Leumi ("Modern Orthodox") stream.

Despite the depressing frequency of missile attacks from the rocket-rich nearby Gaza Strip, Sdot Negev's population has grown by an estimated 55% ["Even Rockets Can't Keep Israelis Away From Towns Near the Gaza Strip", Haaretz, May 31, 2012] in the five years up to 2012. The explanation seems to be connected to high quality of life of communities in the region.

15-Mar-17: A vehicle ramming attack in Gush Etzion is thwarted... by bollards

After the attack vehicle came to a halt [Image Source]
Time to give thanks for the basic, low-tech security devices that save Israeli lives.

Around 3:45 this afternoon (Wednesday) south of Jerusalem at busy Gush Etzion Junction, a young Arab woman - really a girl - of 16 from Beit Fajjar was behind the wheel of a late model Ford Mondeo sedan with white Palestinian Authority license plates which swerved violently across the traffic divider from the opposite side of the highway and smashed at high speed into a group of civilians and soldiers standing at a public bus stop.

Fortunately for everyone concerned, this was one of the many Israeli stops where metal posts - bollards - had been installed to protect travelers waiting for a bus and to prevent what today's evident attacker had in mind. Her vehicle crashed into the posts, and the injuries to the Israelis watching in horror were limited to shock and abrasions.



The bus stops at Gush Etzion - a cluster of Israeli communities located roughly half way between the capital Jerusalem and Hebron - have been frequent targets during the past two years of (inaccurately named) lone-wolf terror attacks, many of them drive-by shootings and vehicle rammings directed at Israeli pedestrians and commuters. That's why there is a heavy military and security presence there round the clock.

In the words of a Ynet report:
The girl, from Beit Fajjar, rammed her car into a bus stop at the Gush Etzion junction, where several people were waiting, raising the soldiers' suspicions... IDF troops shot and seriously wounded [the driver] who attempted to carry out a terror attack... [Ynet, March 15, 2017]
The driver/assailant was taken to hospital by ambulance in critical condition. Early reports said she died of her injuries - whether from bullets or high-speed impact is unclear. Other Israeli reports from later in the afternoon said she was in fact alive and recovering.

Arabic-language news media name her as Fatima Jibrin Taqatqa. Beit Fajjar is located south of Bethlehem and adjacent to Gush Etzion. The head of its local municipal authority is also a Taqatqa. A quick Google scan shows numerous Taqatqas from Beit Fajjar who have been involved in violent Arab-on-Israeli activities. Here on this blog. we reported on another Taqatqa woman from Beit Fajjar who carried out a stabbing ["02-Dec-14: Yesterday's knifing attack at Gush Etzion Junction: prologue and epilogue"] and on a 19 year-old Taqatqa male who carried out a stabbing a year ago [here].

The version of events published by Ma'an News Agency follows the propaganda outlet's customary template. Headlined "Palestinian girl shot, injured at Gush Etzion junction after alleged vehicular attack", it includes the same video clip as the one embedded above, but describes the events a little differently:
Security camera footage of the events showed a car seemingly losing control at the junction, going over a median strip, and hitting posts near a bus station... Palestinian Red Crescent spokeswoman told Ma'an that the organization was unable to ascertain the health condition of the Palestinian woman, as she was taken away by Israeli ambulance services before Red Crescent ambulances reached the scene. Israeli news outlet Ynet had initially reported that the woman was killed, however the report later indicated that the woman survived the shooting, but was in a critical condition... [Ma'an]
Sixteen is below the age for holding a drivers license in Israel. A Wikipedia source says the minimum age for holding a drivers license in the Palestinian Authority is 18. Clearly this driver was not licensed to be wielding this afternoon's weapon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and extradition is sought

Malki
For those new to this blog, the person described in today's DoJ announcement murdered our fifteen year old daughter Malki. We have been urging the authorities in Washington to take steps like these since 2012. Many more steps are still ahead. We are grateful for the work of the investigators and lawyers, and hope now for effective steps by the diplomats and the politicians.

Department of Justice | Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Individual Charged in Connection With 2001 Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem That Resulted in Death of Americans

A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, also known as “Khalti” and “Halati,” a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S., resulting in death. The charge is related to the defendant’s participation in an Aug. 9, 2001, suicide bomb attack at a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two U.S. nationals. Four other U.S. nationals were among the approximately 122 others injured in the attack. Also unsealed today was a warrant for Al-Tamimi’s arrest and an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. The criminal charge had been under seal since July 15, 2013.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“Al-Tamimi is an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims. Two Americans were killed and four injured. The charges unsealed today serve as a reminder that when terrorists target Americans anywhere in the world, we will never forget – and we will continue to seek to ensure that they are held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “I want to thank the many dedicated agents and prosecutors who have worked on this investigation.”

“We have never forgotten the American and non-American victims of this awful terrorist attack,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “We will continue to remain vigilant until Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi is brought to justice.”

“Al-Tamimi is a terrorist who participated in an attack that killed United States citizens,” said Assistant Director in Charge Vale. “The bombing that she planned and assisted in carrying out on innocent people, including children, furthered the mission of a designated terrorist organization. The FBI continues to work with our international partners to combat terrorists like Al-Tamimi and hold them accountable.”

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant, Al-Tamimi was living in the West Bank in the summer of 2001, while attending school and working as a journalist for a television station. Al-Tamimi agreed that summer to carry out attacks on behalf of the military wing of Hamas (the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), a Palestinian organization designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

The affidavit states that on Aug. 9, 2001, Al-Tamimi met with the suicide bomber in Ramallah, in the West Bank, and traveled with the suicide bomber by car to Jerusalem. The suicide bomber was in possession of an explosive device concealed within a guitar. Al-Tamimi led the suicide bomber to a crowded area in downtown Jerusalem and instructed the suicide bomber to detonate the explosive device in the area, or somewhere nearby if an opportunity arose to cause more casualties. According to the affidavit, the suicide bomber entered a Sbarro pizza restaurant and detonated the explosive device, causing extensive damage, bodily injury and death. Seven of the dead were children, including one U.S. national.

The affidavit states that Al-Tamimi pleaded guilty in an Israeli court in 2003 to multiple counts of murder arising from the Sbarro suicide bomb attack and was sentenced to 16 life terms of incarceration. The defendant served only eight years of the sentence before being released on or about Oct. 28, 2011, as part of a prisoner exchange between the government of Israel and Hamas.

Al-Tamimi was returned to Jordan upon her release from incarceration. Jordan’s courts, however, have ruled that their constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals. The U.S. has worked and will continue to work with its foreign partners to obtain custody of Al-Tamimi so she can be held accountable for her role in the terrorist bombing. The FBI also announced today that Al-Tamimi has been placed on its list of Most Wanted Terrorists.

Charges contained in a criminal complaint are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The maximum penalty for a person convicted of this charge is a lifetime term of incarceration or death. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The Office of International Affairs of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division provided significant assistance. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Victims and their families can contact the Department of Justice via e-mail at USADC.SbarroCaseIsrael@USDOJ.govEmail links icon.

17-275
National Security Division (NSD)
USAO - District of Columbia
Topic: Counterterrorism
Updated March 14, 2017

14-Mar-17: Will Jordan's lust for dead Jewish children cause problems with the US?

The original caption reads: "His Majesty King Abdullah presents the Hashemite
flag to the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army during a ceremony
in Amman on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)" [Image Source]
This being a blog about terrorism and those who do it, we tend to write often about despicable people.

We profiled an especially vile killer of seven Jewish girls on a 1997 school-trip in yesterday's post ["12-Mar-17: What a Jordanian hero and his admirers tell us about the likelihood of peace"]. He's not smart, he's certainly not brave, he was said to by his family to have been insane at the time he did the sickening things that got him sent to prison in 1997, and he has never ever uttered a syllable that suggests he did wrong and regrets it.

Quite the opposite: as soon as he was set free on Sunday and "driven home in a convoy of dozens of cars whose drivers were honking their horns, a video shared on social media showed" [source], Ahmad Daqamseh launched into a series of public statements via the media most of which has gone unreported in the more civilized parts of the world.

For instance (said via Aljazeera - here's MEMRI's transcript and video) that we Israelis are “human waste” that must be eradicated. That the rest of the world vomited us up and now we need to be eliminated "by fire or by burial". And that if that's not done by the hands of the cheering crowds standing around him as he said this, then "the task will fall on the future generations to do.”

Now put yourself into the shoes of a Jordanian leader. Perhaps a Member of Parliament. Or a prominent journalist. What would you want people to know about where you stand on the matters addressed by the newly-freed thug? How embarrassed would you be that so many of your citizens are openly rejoicing at the man's release and at the crimes he committed?

Wonder no more:
  • "The Jordan Times on Monday contacted several Jordanian opinion leaders who declined comment for various reasons such as the controversial nature of the debate and to avoid escalation of disputes." [Jordan Times, March 13, 2017; the paper is owned by the Jordan Press Foundation which - says Wikipedia - has been majority government-owned since its inception in 1976]
  • Parliamentarian "Mohammad Riyati (Aqaba) wrote on his Facebook page that he visited Daqamseh to congratulate him on his freedom after serving the 20-year prison sentence, describing him as a “Muslim and Arab nations’ icon"
  • The same politician is quoted saying he will "propose a memorandum to the Lower House to deduct JD100 from the 130 deputies’ salaries to be given to Daqamseh and his family".
  • Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who lives free as a bird in Jordan desoite being the mastermind of our daughter Malki's murder, - evidently saw in Daqamseh's sickening words a kindred homicidal spirit. In an Arabic tweet yesterday, she said his hateful and disgusting words (she didn't call them that) highlight the failure of Jordan's prison system. We can only hope, as we wrote yesterday, that she soon gets to experience from the inside how successful or not the Jordanian penal system actually is. 
  • The head of a Jordan student rights group called Thabahtouna convincingly asserted that Jordanians "did not care much about the details of the act but instead that they considered it as a response to prolonged Israeli aggression against Palestinians and Arabs in general". They're OK with it, is what the leader, Fakher Daas who tweets here, is basically saying. He also says Jordanian festivities "celebrating Daqamseh’s release contained a message condemning the peace agreement with Israel" and that Israeli plans "to normalize relations with Arabs" had failed. He's fine with that too, of course.
  • "MP Khalil Attiya lauded the release of Ahmed Daqamseh from prison, calling for his protection." [Via MEMRI]
  • Another Jordanian parliamentarian, Dima Tahboub: "This is a Jordanian day of celebration. We are very happy at (Daqamseh's) release, which is overdue. Even in prison, we considered him to be free, because no one can arrest someone like the soldier Daqamseh. Today, his freedom is complete. He was free in prison, and now he is free outside. We congratulate the Jordanian people, the Daqamseh family, and ourselves. We congratulate the people who continue to uphold the principles for which Daqamseh was imprisoned."  [Via MEMRI]
  • Jordanian parliamentarian Saleh Al-Armouti: "Dawamseh's release has undoubtedly warmed the hearts of us Jordanians."  [Via MEMRI]
What must it be like to live in a country with leaders of that calibre? With such widespread popular support of your neighbours' children? [Click here for our previous posts tagged with "Jordan".]

So how is it that Jordan keeps being lauded in the State Department's annual survey of terrorism? State's June 2015 "Country Reports on Terrorism" annual survey says of the Hashemite Kingdom:
Jordan remained a key ally and a model partner in combating terrorism and extremist ideology... Jordan demonstrated regional leadership in the fight against ISIL... and participated fully on the diplomatic, political, financial, and military fronts... Jordanian prisons have a religiously based de-radicalization program that seeks to re-engage violent extremist inmates into the non-violent mainstream of their faith.
Jordan legislated its first anti-terrorism law in 2006, a year after a series of terrorist bomb blasts at three Amman hotels that killed dozens of people.
Under the new law, penalties for terrorist acts range from 10 years in prison to the death penalty, and the definition of terrorism has been expanded to include any act meant to create sedition, harm property or jeopardise international relations, or to use the Internet or media outlets to promote "terrorist" thinking. [Aljazeera, April 25, 2014]
That law has since undergone changes (summarized in this April 2014 AFP syndicated report). But what the State Department report fails to mention is how Jordan has carefully defined terror over the years so that acts of violence directed at Israelis are specifically, by definition, never to be considered terror. For instance:
Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 1999 (Ratified 28 Aug. 2003): "Jordan does not consider national armed struggle and fighting foreign occupation in the exercise of people’s right to self-determination as terrorist acts under art. 2(1)(b)" [Source]
Jordan's creativity with the definition of terror is not new and hardly a secret, but largely ignored. So too the wildly popular support that terror when directed at Israelis enjoys among Jordanians. 

The quiet celebrity lifestyle enjoyed by Ahlam Tamimi, who delivered the bomb to the Sbarro pizzeria in August 2001, can be happening only because the kingdom and its leaders are fine with that.

From within Jordan's borders and regularly venturing beyond them, Tamimi speaks as an honored guest at its universitiesprofessional guildslaw courts and other venues; records her television program "Naseem Al Ahrar" (translation: “Breezes of the Free”) week after week (or did until about November 2016 - and then she seems to have stopped appearing though the program continues) for beaming out to the Arabic-speaking world since 2012; and has the status of a genuine pan-Arab celebrity. She has boasted repeatedly of her central role in the Sbarro pizzeria massacre. She has zero remorse. The Jordanians seem to love her for it.

Should the US government be fine with that too?

Monday, March 13, 2017

13-Mar-17: Jerusalem and the (alleged) knife-men

The Old City and Lions' Gate [Image Source]
At about 4 this morning (Monday) there was a slightly elevated police presence in Israel's capital city because in Jerusalem it's the festive day of Purim. (Everywhere else in the world celebrated Purim a day earlier.)

An Arab assailant managed to squeeze into an occupied and cramped guard booth adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem's Lions' Gate, armed with a large butcher knife. He embarked on a frenzied stabbing attack, injuring the two Border Guard police inside.
"One of the officers fought his way out of the guard booth, loaded his weapon and shot the assailant, police said. The assailant was shot and critically wounded during the attack. He later died of his injuries." [Times of Israel today]
The Border Guard men are recovering at Hadassah Medical Center's Ein Kerem hospital where they were rushed for emergency treatment, arriving there in stable and fully conscious condition according to a hospital spokesperson.

The assailant has been named in the Arab media as Ibrahim Mahmoud Mattar, described by Israel Police as a 25-year-old resident of East Jerusalem’s notorious Jabel Mukaber neighborhood from which a significant number of Arab-on-Israeli shooters, rammers and stabbers have emerged in the past two years (click to see some relevant earlier posts).

The attacker's knife [Image Source: Foreign Ministry]
Ma'an News Agency, whose work is in large measure paid for by the mostly unwitting and increasingly unwilling taxpayers of several European countries, adopted its customary alternative-reality approach to reporting on Palestinian Arab terror, starting with the headline of its tendentious report: "Witnesses: Israeli police 'execute' Palestinian in Jerusalem over alleged attack":
Israeli police shot and killed a 25-year-old Palestinian near the Lion’s Gate entrance to occupied East Jerusalem's Old City early Monday morning over an alleged stabbing attack that left two Israeli police officers lightly and moderately injured. The slain man was identified as Ibrahim Mahmoud Matar, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood Jabal al-Mukabbir, located south of the Old City. The shooting happened ahead of the al-fajr (dawn) prayers, as worshipers were headed to Al-Aqsa Mosque inside the Old City. Witnesses told Ma'an they saw a dispute inside an Israeli police post located near Lion’s Gate, between an Israeli policeman and a Palestinian "who was carrying a stick.” Israeli police then forced the young man outside of the enclosure and “executed” him at point blank range with with four bullets, leading to his immediate death, witnesses said. Referring to the dispute that lead up to the shooting, eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli police were “controlling the situation” and could have easily detained Matar without using lethal force... Following the killing, Israeli forces were heavily deployed in and around Lion’s Gate and prevented many Palestinians from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray, with witnesses saying the lockdown lasted from 4:30 until 6:00 a.m. Later Monday morning, Israeli forces raided Matar’s home in Jabal al-Mukabbir and detained his brother, parents, and his uncle, according to locals and Israeli police.
A few words about the journalistic values on display here. We follow Ma'an's reporting more closely than most people. The reflexive use by its editors of the cowardly term "alleged" to describe most Arab-on-Israeli attacks is a constant. But the mostly outlandish claims of Arab so-called witnesses and their fanciful explanations for how knives and guns ended up in Arab hands are almost never termed "alleged". 

Taking Ma'an's Palestinian-Arab-centric reportage at face-value requires a prior commitment to a thoroughly partisan view of events. In war, that's not unusual or even in some ways unacceptable. What's outrageous is that none of this could be done without the massive ongoing funding its editors and managers have gotten since its inception in 2005 from Western sources. Most of that money is from governments which means from tax-payers. And while many of the government bureaucrats in Europe signing off on those cheques and foreign aid forms are ideologically comfortable with how the money they supply is spent, it's a certainty that many, probably most, of the people actually providing those funds have no such political leanings.

NGO-Monitor does first-rate, systematic work examining how government funding from the West often gets wasted and channeled into very dark places connected with the Arab/Israel conflict. You might want to know that it has a resource page [here] devoted to shining some light on the quiet funding that is Ma'an's life-blood. 

Most people don't realize, but NGO-Monitor documents this, that for years Ma'an - an outlet for news in several languages - has been the recipient of millions (dollars and Euros) in foreign aid. Initial funding came from the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands. 

Since then, the torrent has continued to arrive from (among others) the governments of DenmarkSweden, the United StatesSwitzerlandNetherlands, the European Union and the United Kingdom. Several human rights and humanitarian juggernauts, in particular Catholic Relief Services, UNESCO and most egregiously Save the Children, have found ways to justify sending some of their budget to the Bethlehem offices of the propaganda agency. Why donors accept this is a puzzle - assuming they know.

UPDATE Monday March 13, 2017 at 10:00 pm: Elder of Ziyon notices, on visiting Facebook, that
Naturally, Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah is extolling him as a "martyr" and making sure that his act is viewed as a religious obligation. This is all to let the next terrorist know exactly how his acts will be honored.
Tragically, it usually plays out this way.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

12-Mar-17: What a Jordanian hero and his admirers tell us about the likelihood of peace

On March 18, 2014, clan members of the convicted murderer shouted and
waved shoes outside Jordan's parliament demanding Daqamseh's release
[Image Source]
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan this morning released from prison a man called Ahmed Mousa Daqamseh.

Not such a well-known name in Western countries, he's something of a folk hero among the Palestinian Arabs who constitute the clear majority of Jordan's population.

This is because he recently won the Arab Idol television competition and his songs are heard everywhere.

No, we're not being serious. He doesn't write songs. He doesn't perform on TV. His fame comes from the fact that he developed a wildly-successful best-selling app for the Android smart-phone platform.

No, no, that's not true either. We don't actually think the high school dropout has any facility with technology after years behind bars. No, he's famous - truly - because he plays center-half in one of Europe's most-high profile soccer teams and is one of the team's stars.

No, not that either.

The real truth is Ahmed Daqamseh is a celebrity among Palestinian Arabs because on March 13, 1997 while serving in Jordan's military as a 29-year-old lowly corporal and posted to a site known to Israelis as Naharayim - meaning two rivers since it's the point of confluence of the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers (the Jordanians call it Baqura), and for reasons described here, as the Island of Peace (a Hollywood film publicist must have been involved in coming up with that wildly improbable name), he cold-bloodedly opened fire on a group of visiting Israelis.

The Israelis, all brawny men with long years of fighting experience behind them, were heavily armed and chanting slogans impugning the honor of the Jordanian kingdom.

No, sorry again. We're making that up.

The people on whom he opened fire were schoolgirls - all of them eighth-graders. They had come that morning from the southern Israeli city of Beit Shemesh's AMIT Fuerst School. They were bused to the Island of Peace for a school field trip, and not a single one of them was armed. Not even with girl-sized machine-guns. Not even with petite hand-grenades.

Here are the names and ages of those whom he shot to death:
Sivan Fathi, 13; Karen Cohen, 14; Ya'ala Me'iri, 13; Shiri Badayev, 14; Natalie Alkalai, 13; Adi Malka, 13; Nirit Cohen, 13. All but little Sivan were from Beit Shemesh itself. She was from Tzelafon.  
Six other children were injured. Their lives are remembered by a beautiful memorial at the site of the shooting called, in heart-breaking fashion, the Hill of the Picked Flowers.

Daqamseh told the Jordanian court, a military tribunal of five army judges that tried him on criminal charges, that he had no option but to use his gun, a high-powered, US-made M16 automatic rifle, and fire at the enemy agents because
he was insulted and angered that the girls were whistling and clapping while he was praying [Wikipedia]
He would probably have killed even more children but for the fact that the rifle he grabbed from another soldier jammed. Despite the large scale of the tragic outcome, he was not sentenced to be executed - as the Jordanians have shown they have no problem doing - but instead was ordered to serve a long period of imprisonment.

Cover of Yediot Aharonot, the day after the Naharayim
massacre, March 1997 [Image Source]. The headline
reads "The murder of the girls"
A March 15, 1997 account in the Washington Post paints a pathetic picture:
A high school dropout from the village of Ibdir, the gunman was drafted 12 years ago, his family said. He had two sons and a daughter but no history of violence and was not affiliated with any political group, family members said. "We're shocked by his action," Mousa Daqamseh said as tears flowed down his cheeks. "My boy was unstable," Daqamseh's mother added. "He had a psychological problem and used to have anxieties."
She refused to give other details except to say: "He used to sit alone and stare in the open and think. He used to get angry sometimes, but cool down after a long walk." ["Israeli girls buried as thousands mourn", Washington Post, March 15, 1997]
Another report at the time called him suicidal:
A Jordanian soldier accused of gunning down seven Israeli schoolgirls in March has a personality disorder and tried to commit suicide in 1989, a psychiatrist testified yesterday. Dr. Nabil Hmoud, a Jordanian army major, told a military hearing that Cpl. Ahmed Daqamseh, 26, is mentally sound but suffers from a personality disorder that may lead him to harm himself or others. He did not say what the personality disorder was... [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 17 June 1997]
Whether sane or feigning mental illness, Daqamseh never expressed a shred of remorse for the massacre or the lives he stole. Interviewed by the Jordanian weekly a-Shahed in 20004, he said
"If I could return to that moment, I would behave exactly the same way. Every day that passes, I grow stronger in the belief that what I did was my duty." [Jerusalem Post, March 12, 2017]
That murderous determination somehow did not make it into the news media at the time:
Fellow soldiers and a woman who claimed to be his mother said the gunman has mental problems. There was no other immediate explanation for his actions. [Reuters, March 14, 1997]
Dignitaries calling on the bereaved families in the immediate aftermath
of the killings [Image Source]
And as we noted, today (Sunday) he walked free at about 1:00 o'clock in the morning [source].

How is he being received?
  • From a syndicated Agence France-Press report ["Jordan minister dubs Israel girls’ killer ‘hero’", AFP, February 14, 2011]: Jordan’s justice minister on Monday described a Jordanian soldier serving a life sentence for killing seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 as a “hero,” drawing an expression of “revulsion” from Israel. “I support the demonstrators’ demand to free Ahmad Dakamseh. He’s a hero. He does not deserve prison,” Hussein Mujalli, who was named minister last week, told AFP after taking part in the sit-in held by trade unions. “If a Jewish person killed Arabs, his country would have built a statue for him instead of imprisonment.” Mujalli, a former president of the Jordan Bar Association, was Dakamseh’s lawyer. “It is still my case and I will still defend him. It is a top priority for me,” he said... The minister’s comments drew a furious response from Israel... “Israel is shocked and recoils from these comments in revulsion,” a foreign ministry statement said... Maisara Malas, who heads a trade unions’ committee to support and defend the soldier, told AFP he handed a letter to Mujalli, demanding Dakamseh’s release. “We cannot imagine that a great fighter like Dakamseh is in jail instead of reaping the rewards of his achievement,” the letter said. Jordan’s powerful Islamist movement and the country’s 14 trade unions, which have more than 200,000 members, have repeatedly called for Dakamseh’s release.
  • In April 2013, 110 of the Jordanian parliament's 120 members signed a petition demanding a pardon for Daqamseh ["
  • Sweeping Majority of Jordan MPs Sign Petition Calling for Release of Man Who Killed 7 Israeli Girls",
  • Haaretz, April 12, 2013]
  • On February 25, 2014, during a debate on the same request in the Jordanian Parliament's House of Representatives, a group of MPs headed by Ali Al-Sanid again called for the government to release Daqamseh. Here's part of their manifesto as translated by MEMRI [source] which speaks of the pathetic shooter with alleged mental problems as "...a rare man, peerless among men, a knight who, mounted on glory, acted marvelously for his national cause; of a prisoner who was a source of concern for his jailors and whose name is linked to the suffering of his nation. This man swore by Allah – and, later, by blood and by bullets of lead, like the martyrs – that Palestine is Arab, that it will remain as long as the Arabs remain, that history will have its reckoning... My brothers, I speak of the Jordanian soldier who opened fire at a time of peace [thus] reflecting the desires and conscience of the Jordanians, and their resistance to an agreement of humiliation [the Israel-Jordan peace treaty] unparalleled in history... [We call] for the immediate release of the hero, Jordanian soldier Ahmad Al-Daqamseh, [in order] to put an end to his suffering. Otherwise, this government will be challenging the consensus of the Jordanian people..."
  • The English-language Jordan Times, which reflects the kingdom's official views, doesn't say. We were unable to find a single mention of him in today's web edition. Maybe tomorrow. And maybe not.
  • The excitement of the people in his home town is captured in a crude YouTube video from the early hours of this morning, mainly filled with the raucous sounds of car horns, Arabic music, women ululating and people shouting jubilantly. This was a happy, happy day.
  • "An Arabic hashtag of Daqamseh’s name has been trending on Twitter over the past few days, and the social media outlet has served as a platform for a generally homogenous response." ["Ahmed Daqamseh, who killed seven Israeli children, widely praised on Jordanian social media", Albawaba, March 12, 2017]
  • "May Allah preserve you in the house of your family, you who embody the most beautiful story of a hero from 1997 to 2017. May Allah have mercy on your father who did not have the chance to see you free, released. The hero, Ahmad Daqamseh." [Quoting this Arabic-language tweet]
  • After arriving at his home this morning, Daqamseh declared he would "stay a soldier in the Jordanian armed forces... I went into jail as a soldier and now I consider myself and my sons soldiers in the armed forces" according to a report today in Israel National News. Based on Arabic news reports, they say he was given a jubilant reception in the village where he lived after his return.
  • The Jordanian news site Almadenah [here] today gives the released murderer full-celebrity coverage with numerous photos of dignitaries greeting him in his home village. Even if Arabic is not a language you speak or read, the photos are exceptionally eloquent (we prefer not to reproduce them here).
  • Another Jordanian news site, JO24, quotes the 'hero' himself saying today in the full flush of his fame and media attention (our translation from Arabic) that he "does not believe in normalization with the Zionist entity; Palestine is one from the sea to the river... and there is no state called Israel". There's an Arabic video here recording these profound views of the "hero" as he speaks them.
  • Also in Jordan (where she lives in ill-gotten freedom), the mastermind of our daughter Malki's murder - evidently recognizing in the sickening words of Daqamseh a kindred homicidal spirit - says (in this Arabic tweet) that they, his hateful and disgusting words, indicate the failure of the prison system. She's referring to the prisons of the Hashemite Kingdom. We can only hope she eventually gets to experience from the inside how successful or not the Jordanian penal system actually is. (No, not holding our breaths.)
If there's any news coverage of the feelings and responses of the families of those sweet girls he murdered, we haven't found it yet. The same goes for any Jordanian or other Arab voices expressing disgust at the after-the-fact bravado of a man with a big gun who took aim at unarmed girls and has come to fame only because of what happened to them when he pulled the trigger again and again and again.