April 13, 2021

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Three Other Cases of Terrorists Whom Jordan Chose to Expedite Rather Than Extradite (Daled Amos)


In the news Monday was the decision of Jordan’s highest court to uphold the ruling to deny the extradition of an admitted murderer to the US. Ahlam Tamimi orchestrated the suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two Americans in 2001. The fact that an extradition treaty existed between the US and Jordan since 1995 was judged to be of no consequence, because apparently it was never ratified by the Jordanian parliament, though signed by King Hussein.

But this is not the first time that Jordan has refused to extradite terrorists to face justice.

France: Jordan Finds Another Technicality

Just last year, Jordan turned down a French request that it extradite 2 terrorist suspects in the 1982 murder of six people in a Jewish restaurant in Paris. Two terrorists entered the Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Paris and murdered 6 people, while wounding 22 others.
The Jordanian government rejected extradition in that case because of a technicality. It turned out that one of the murderers, 62-year-old Zuhair Mohamad al-Abassi, a Palestinian, was arrested while he was in Jordan in 2015, before the extradition treaty between Jordan and France became valid. The other suspect, 54-year-old Nizar Tawfiq Hamada, never went to trial because the statute of limitation expired.

The Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant in Paris. Credit: © 2005 David Monniaux via Wikimedia Commons. From jns.org

An anonymous source told AFP a different reason why Jordan would not extradite the suspected terrorist:

Jordan does not usually extradite its citizens to other countries, even in the case of an extradition agreement. In such a case, they are generally tried in specialized Jordanian courts.

Apparently, the matter is a little different when the shoe is on the other foot.

United Kingdom: It’s Different When Jordan Demands Extradition

Back in 1999, a Jordanian military court sentenced a radical Muslim preacher to death in absentia. Abu Qatada was suspected of being a key al-Qaida operative tried for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks, including a plot on the country’s American school in Amman. The sentence was immediately commuted to life in jail with hard labor. The following year, he was sentenced, also in absentia, to 15 years for plotting terrorist attacks on Israeli and American tourists and Western diplomats during Jordan’s millennium celebrations.

But that was only the beginning.

Abu Qatada. Credit: Wikipedia

Abu Qatada, accused of being bin Laden’s right hand man in Europe, was in London. In 1993 he entered England on a forged passport and in 1994 he was granted asylum. In 2001, Jordan requested that Great Britain extradite Abu Qatada. But then it was the British and European courts that refused the request — based on human rights concerns over Jordan’s use of torture. In the meantime, Abu Qatada had been arrested more than once.

Finally, in 2013, Great Britain and Jordan signed an extradition treaty and Abu Qatada was sent to Jordan, with a guarantee that he would not be tortured. Apparently the fact that he had been arrested prior to the signing of the treaty was not an issue to Jordan, unlike in the extradition treaty it had with France.

As a postscript, upon his return to Jordan Abu Qatada was retried — and cleared of all charges. Evidence used in the trials when he was tried in absentia while he was in Great Britain was ruled inadmissible in accordance with the agreement with Great Britain, because of the possibility it was obtained under torture. Abu Qatada is now free.

At the time of the deportation, Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed Momani said the kingdom “is keen on credibility and transparency” in handling Abu Qatada, and that the deportation of the Palestinian-born Jordanian cleric “sends a message to all fugitives that they will face justice in Jordan.”

No doubt.

If it’s any consolation to France, Jordan is no better at extraditing terrorists when the request comes from other Arab countries.

Iraq: Jordan Does Not Play Favorites

Iraq has been requesting the extradition of Raghad Hussein, the daughter of Saddam Hussein. Known as “little Saddam,” she has been a vocal supporter of Isis, accused of funding Iraqi militants and in 2010 Interpol posted an arrest warrant for her in connection with her alleged direct involvement in Iraqi terrorism.

Raghad Hussein. Credit: Al Arabiya

Iraq’s repeated requests that Raghad Hussein be returned to Iraq have been turned down.

Nor is Jordan’s refusal to deport Tamimi the first time that it has denied a US request.

United States: Jordan Pardons An Honor Killer 

Mohammad Abequa murdered his wife in New Jersey in 1994 and fled to Jordan — along with their two young children. Once in Jordan, he was sentenced to 15 years by a court, but then pardoned after only 5 years in prison and set free. At the time, the US had no extradition treaty with Jordan. Even after personal pleas to King Hussein by President Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno and New Jersey’s US representatives and senators, Jordan refused to return Abequa for trial.

At the trial, he faced the possibility of death by hanging, but was sentenced to 15 years instead because of his testimony that the murder was an honor killing. Abequa, whose brother was a general in the Jordanian army, claimed he killed his wife to protect his honor, which under Jordanian law is a reason for a reduced sentence. He told the courtroom he lost his temper when his wife told him the man he saw leaving her house was her boyfriend and she showed him a new tattoo on her thigh that he had given her. Jordanian law allows leniency in the case of ‘honor killing’ cases when the man kills his wife or sister because he suspects her of adultery or premarital sex.

It was this case that motivated the US to sign an extradition treaty with Jordan.

Jordan Will Deport Terrorists – When It’s In Their Own Interests

Actually, Jordan does not always refuse to deport known terrorists out of the country — even nationals. In 1999, Jordan exiled 4 senior members of Hamas. Khaled Mashal, now a leader of Hamas, as well as Ibrahim Ghosheh, Izzat Rushuq and Sami Khater, were released from prison and flown to Qatar. All of them had Jordanian nationality. They were accused of inciting hardline Islamist sentiment in Jordan, and the government claimed the four left willingly as part of a deal with Qatar.

Mashal (left) and Ghohshe flanking another exiled Hamas activist Mousa Abu Marzouq. Credit: BBC

Also, there is also an unverified report that security agencies in Jordan at one point planned to deport 7 Libyans back to Libya. They were married to Jordanian citizens, who were legal residents of Jordan.

It’s easy to forget that Jordan, for all of its supposed modernity, is really not that much different from the surrounding Arab countries. Its views on justice are not much more advanced than its views on honor killing. Even an extradition treaty is no guarantee that justice will be done, when it comes to Jordanian nationals. Supposedly in such cases, nationals can be judged in specialized Jordanian courts. However, based on Jordan’s past record — that is no comfort to the relatives of the victims of Islamist terrorism.

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