Jordanian Refusal to Extradite Paris Kosher Restaurant Killer to France Renews Concern Over Amman’s Terrorism Policy
The Kingdom of Jordan’s highest court has rejected a French appeal for the extradition of a suspect in a deadly attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris more than 30 years ago — raising further concerns that the stalwart ally of the West continues to offer safe haven to terrorists wanted by the courts of other countries, including the United States.
On Tuesday, Jordan’s Court of Cassation ruled against the extradition of 57-year-old Nizar Tawfiq Mussa Hamada, one of the alleged participants in the Aug. 9, 1982 attack at Chez Jo Goldenberg, a kosher restaurant in the traditionally Jewish Marais district of Paris.
After exploding a grenade inside the packed restaurant during its lunchtime service, two terrorists then opened fire on the diners with machine guns. Six people died and 22 more were wounded in the assault.
The atrocity was carried out by the Abu Nidal Organization — a radical Palestinian terrorist group that was active during the 1970s and 1980s, when it carried out attacks in over 20 countries. Named after the nom de guerre of its founder, Sabri al-Banna, the Abu Nidal group was backed at different times by the Iraqi, Syrian and Libyan regimes.
Speaking after Tuesday’s decision in favor of his client, Hamada’s lawyer, Mazan al-Tawil, praised the Jordanian judges for “categorically refusing” the French extradition request.
Al-Tawil referred to the court’s decision to reject an earlier extradition request for Hamada in Feb. 2016 for the same reason — that a period of more than 30 years had elapsed since the atrocity, exceeding Jordan’s “limitation period” for extradition.
Hamada’s co-conspirators in the attack on the restaurant have similarly escaped French justice because of the intervention of Jordanian courts.
The suspects in the Chez Jo Goldenberg attack were not formally identified until 2014, when two anonymous informants associated with Abu Nidal’s group supplied the French authorities with the missing information.
The following year, France’s top magistrate tasked with combating terrorism, Marc Trévidic, issued arrest warrants for several suspects, including Hamada and fellow Jordanian citizen Souhair Mouhamed Hassan Khalid al-Abassi — aka Amjad Atta — reputedly the mastermind behind the attack.
A French request to the Jordanian courts for al-Abassi’s extradition was similarly rejected in Oct. 2015 — just three months after the Hashemite Kingdom signed an extradition treaty with the French government.
But France is not the only country to have been turned down by Jordan after submitting an extradition request in connection with terrorism.
In March 2017, the US Department of Justice issued a criminal complaint against Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, who ferried a Palestinian suicide bomber to the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem on August 9, 2001, in her car. In the subsequent bombing attack, 15 people lost their lives, including two US nationals.
US Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord described al-Tamimi as “an unrepentant terrorist who admitted to her role in a deadly terrorist bombing that injured and killed numerous innocent victims.” A $5 million reward has been offered by the Justice Department for information leading to the arrest of Al-Tamimi, whose name can also be found on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.
So far, however, Jordan has refused to extradite al-Tamimi, who has lived openly in Amman since she was released in a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas on October 28, 2011, to the US.
As McCord acknowledged when she unveiled the US indictment of al-Tamimi, “Jordan’s court … have ruled that their constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals.” She pledged that the US would “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.”
Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was killed in the Sbarro bombing, told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that he was not surprised by the Jordanian decision in the case of the Paris terror attack in 1982.
“The thwarted Jo Goldenberg extradition shows that you can either have healthy bilateral relations based on justice, openness, and honesty, or you can pander to the pro-terror forces inside Jordan,” Roth said in an email. “You cannot hope to have both.”
Roth, who has been advocating with his wife Frimet for al-Tamimi’s extradition to the US, said that the Jordanians were being given a pass by Western allies eager not to jolt the kingdom’s political stability.
“There seems to be a sense that Jordan’s dear friends in the West need to cut the country some slack, not press too hard and do what needs to be done, so that its widely admired anti-terrorist monarch, King Abdullah II, can get on with the job of building a stable, prosperous Western-facing state,” Roth remarked.
At the same time, Roth said, al-Tamimi had been turned “into a pan-Arab hero from her safe perch in Amman, Jordan’s capital.”
Through her TV and internet appearances, Roth said, al-Tamimi had “become an inspiration to the powerful and very large forces inside the kingdom (and far beyond it) who want more bloodshed and conflict, more killing of Israelis and Jews.”