Friday, August 18, 2017

18-Aug-17: Spain reels under multiple - evidently connected - jihadi assaults

Barcelona yesterday
It's been a terribly dramatic day and night in Spain. Three separate terror attacks in the Catalan region now appear to be tied to each other and to Islamist terror groups. In the words of Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, “jihadi terrorism” is what's behind the assaults, the maimings and the murders.

Here's an overview based on a range of mainstream media sources. First Barcelona:
  • A van was deliberately driven into pedestrians on one of the city's most popular boulevards, Las Ramblas, killing 13 people on Thursday afternoon. 
  • ISIS claimed "credit". Its Aamaq news agency said (according to Irish Times): “The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states” - evidently referring to the US-led coalition against ISIS.
  • The BBC for reasons none of us ought to respect calls ISIS "the so-called Islamic State". (If that's the game, should we believe that the United Kingdom is actually united? Isn't that unity also so-called? Let's ask the Scots.)
  • "It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible," Josep Lluis Trapero, senior police official, said. [Telegraph UK]
  • Times of Israel says a manhunt is underway for the driver.
  • The attack vehicle is a rented white Fiat van. One version [Telegraph UK] says the driver rammed it into pedestrians outside a kosher restaurant shortly after 5pm. He then "veered onto the promenade and barreled down the busy walkway for 500 metres, swerving back and forth and mowing down pedestrians. Victims were left sprawled in the street, spattered with blood or writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others fled in panic through Las Ramblas, screaming or carrying young children in their arms."
  • The death toll includes one Belgian and three Germans. Among the 100 injured, 15 are in serious condition. The injured include four Australians and according to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop: “We are concerned for one Australian who remains unaccounted for. SKY News says that Australian is a seven year-old boy. Another of the Australian injured is in serious condition. In addition there are three Dutch, 26 French (of whom 11 are said by the French government to be in serious condition), three Greeks, one Chinese among those hhurt. Others are from Venezuela, Ireland, Peru and Algeria.
  • Times of Israel reports that the area under attack "went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down. Several hours later authorities reported two arrests, one a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan. They declined to identify them."
  • According to Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, one of the detained is named as Driss Oukabir, said to be a French citizen of Moroccan origin. But there are also reports a man of that name went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. One version being reported is that Driss Oukabir claimed his brother might have stolen them.
  • Reuters says the Spanish royal household said on Twitter: “They are murderers, nothing more than criminals who are not going to terrorise us. All of Spain is Barcelona.” A person could wish that the sentiment of the Spanish royals would occasionally be extended to apply to the murderous, hateful attacks we here in Israel endure on an almost daily basis.
Next, Cambrils:
  • Another vehicle-ramming attack last night (Thursday) in the seaside resort town of Cambrils, about 100 kilometers from Barcelona is being linked to the Barcelona attack.
  • A police officer and five civilians are injured; two are in serious condition. The injuries all appear to be caused by the deliberate ramming.
  • Times of Israel quotes the Cataln region’s Interior Minister Joaquin Forn saying this morning (Friday) that the Cambrils attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.” He has not yet explained the connection and confirmed the driver in the Barcelona attack remains at large.
  • The same source told Catalunya Radio this morning (Friday) that a third person has been arrested in connection with the Barcelona attack. He was taken into custody in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll.
  • Five men carrying bomb belts and acting as human bombs - evidently inside the ramming vehicle - were shot and killed by police who then detonated their explosives in a controlled blast. Media reports however use a different way of describing their intentions. CNBC for instance writes that they "were wearing suicide belts". Telegraph UK says "five terrorists wearing suicide vests launched the second ramming attack in the country in a matter of hours." CNN says "police killed five men wearing fake suicide belts".
Permit us to interject something (not for the first time) about suicide and human bombs:
If the attackers in Cambrils were going to commit suicide, why in a public place? Could it be that suicide was not actually their goal? Were they in reality contemplating well-thought-out murder? Were they in fact murder-minded terrorists? If so, why confuse and mislead by implying (through the term suicide-belt or suicide bombers) that they were intent on committing suicide? They made themselves into human bombs and that is what we owe to ourselves and victims past and future to call them and those like them. We explain the thinking here: "30-Jun-15: We need to be calling them what they are: human bombs".
And it now appears a Wednesday night gas explosion in the town of Alcanar, 160 kilometers south-west of Barcelona along the Mediterranean coast is part of the same battle:
  • "At least one person died and another six were injured in the explosion at around 11.15pm Wednesday night in the village of Alcanar Platja in southern Catalonia. Firefighters discovered about 20 gas cylinders while examining the scene of the blast... According to reports in the Spanish media, authorities were working under the assumption that a butane gas leak caused the blast. The deceased is believed to have been of Moroccan origin." [RT]
  • Then came a second blast. From Mirror UK: "The first blast occurred at around 11.15pm on Wednesday night in a housing estate called Montecarlo de Alcanar Platja, in Alcanar, in the province of Tarragona, south of Barcelona.... the house was completely destroyed... Police said it was possible a second person was dead among the ruins of the house. They added that they suspect the house was being used to build an explosive device... 
  • A second explosion injured nine more people, including six police officers and two firefighters. 
  • The second explosion happened as the emergency services sifted through the rubble of the house... 
  • Neighbours had said that two north African brothers had been renting the house."
In reactions to the blood-letting and terrorism, the World Council of Churches shamelessly tweeted "Terrible attacks in Barcelona. Must be condemned by all. Prayers for the victims and their families. #PrayforBarcelona". We hope our readers will help circulate a response we published seven months ago: "08-Jan-17: Where the World Council of Churches stands as Israelis are rammed to death".

The head of the Palestinian Authority did what he does best - make up a respectable-sounding but totally insincere and counter-factual condemnation while hoping no one relevant notices the hypocrisy of his being the inciter-in-chief of almost identical attacks directed against Israelis [see "18-Aug-17: On vehicle rammings, Mahmoud Abbas, moderate advocate for terror, is open-minded, sees both sides"]

18-Aug-17: On vehicle rammings, Mahmoud Abbas, moderate advocate for terror, is open-minded, sees both sides

Innocent targets fleeing the murderers in Barcelona yesterday [Image Source]
President-for-life of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas - now serving the twelfth year of his four-year term of office - has just gone public with a condemnation of yesterday's appalling jihadist massacre of pedestrians in a tourist precinct of Barcelona.
Abbas condemns Barcelona attack | PA chairman sends condolences to Barcelona victims, says he condemns all forms of terror | August 18, 2017 | Israel National News | Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday condemned the terrorist attack in Barcelona, in which 13 people were murdered and 100 injured. In a message to the King of Spain Felipe VI and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Abbas sent his condolences to the victims of the attack. According to the official PA news agency Wafa, Abbas condemned the attack and stressed his rejection of all forms of terrorism as well as the need to confront all terrorist organizations around the world.
Source
Meanwhile a public figure with the exact same name and similar-looking features has been delivering the exact opposite message to Palestinian Arabs:
Abbas: Palestinian violence is “justified popular uprising” | Mohammed Daraghmeh | Associated Press | December 14, 2015
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas referred to the last three months of violence Monday as a “justified popular uprising”. Abbas’s comments came as a new poll shows widespread Palestinian support for ongoing attacks on Israelis. Later Monday, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem rammed his car into a crowded bus stop, wounding nine before bystanders shot him dead.
Israeli leaders have accused Abbas and other Palestinian leaders of inciting the violence with incendiary rhetoric. Abbas has previously refrained from either endorsing or condemning the attacks, often referring to the wave of violence as understandable but not in the best interests of the Palestinian people.
“We cannot ask the youth why they are going out (to revolt),” Abbas said in Ramallah. “They just despaired of the two-state solution.”
A poll released Monday found that two-thirds of Palestinians support the current wave of stabbings. Most Palestinians believe if the current individual attacks develop into an armed intifada, the violence might serve Palestinian national interests more than negotiations would.
We are about to contact the BBC and several of the major global news packaging/syndicators to ask when their updated, detailed take-down of the lethal hypocrisy on show in Abbas' outrageous double-talk will appear.

We're also hoping to hear from friends in Spain that the government there plans to throw Abbas' "condemnation" right back at both of his two faces.

Meanwhile in a similar vein: "23-May-17: Condemning terror is so easy to do, even Jordan can do it - and no news reports will criticize them"

Thursday, August 17, 2017

17-Aug-17: A man with a knife is intercepted today en route to downtown Jerusalem

Israel National News is reporting the interception of a terror-minded, armed Palestinian Arab today on his way to the center of Jerusalem and an appointment with destiny:
Police captured an Arab suspect from Shuafat neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem as he made his way to the center of town with a concealed knife, following a tip by an Arab woman who observed him with the weapon.
The woman, also a resident of Shuafat, reportedly witnessed the suspect placing a sharp object in his bag before boarding a bus towards downtown Jerusalem.
After witnessing this, the woman contacted police stationed near the entrance of Shuafat, informing them of the suspect’s concealed weapon.
Israel Police officers and a unit of Border Police officers tracked down the suspect’s bus based on the woman’s tip, and found a knife inside of a bag which had been concealed underneath the suspect’s bus seat.
The suspect, a man in his 20s, was arrested and taken for interrogation.
Though the report says the would-be attacker took a bus, the fact is that getting into the center of the capital from Shuafat on Jerusalem's north side which used to be a complicated task until the Jerusalem Light Rail - routinely pelted with rocks in and around Shuafat - began operating on August 19, 2011, six years ago almost to the day, is now a breeze. The large numbers of Arabs shopping and strolling in the center of Jerusalem testify to its positive impact.

If more details emerge of the thwarted attack we will report them here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

08-Aug-17: Symmetry, dialogue, loss and bridging the divides

From a Parents Circle website [Image Source]
In a well-argued opinion piece that appeared in Haaretz a few days ago, Jonathan S. Tobin (opinion editor of JNS.org, a Contributing Writer at National Review, an editor at Commentary Magazine, and for a decade up to 2008 executive editor of The Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia) tackles the way America's Jewish left
is deeply invested in a form of asymmetric dialogue that too often requires co-opting Jewish kids to denounce the sins of Zionism
In doing so, his essay, "It's not about flags: The real problem with Jewish-Palestinian dialogue" [Haaretz, August 3, 2017] addresses issues that we have touched on when expressing the deep disquiet we feel about one particular left-oriented group called Parents Circle Families Forum. Readers not familiar with that exceedingly well-funded organization or our criticisms of it might start here: Behind the facade at Parents Circle, messages that are deeply disturbing to bereaved families”.

Tobin's essay gets started with a glance at events recently reported from Washington State’s Camp Solomon Schechter. What he describes as a bitter debate erupted "across the Jewish world" as a result of a Palestinian Authority flag being raised over their grounds in July. The Schechter people came in for some praise and some criticism arising from the "sadness and anger" this provoked but the issue itself was and is marginal to something of greater moment. In Tobin's words, the larger question worth exploring is 
whether most of what passes for interfaith or Jewish-Arab dialogue is something that can produce progress toward peace or is, instead, merely another proof of author Cynthia Ozick’s axiom, that "universalism is the parochialism of the Jews."
In more straight-forward terms,
the real point of interest here is not the undoubted good intentions of those responsible or how tremendous the power that symbols like flags still have to engender passion. Rather, it is the blind faith that so many Jews have in the value of dialogue programs... Getting people from warring groups to know each other as individuals rather than symbols of fear and loathing can only help undermine stereotypes that fuel conflict... Since the impetus for dialogue between Arabs and Jews almost always comes from the latter, they tend to follow a familiar pattern: Arabs denounce Israeli oppression and the Jews nod in sympathetic agreement or fail to answer in kind about the actions of the Palestinians.
On this, Tobin, drawing on experiences as "a journalist who has covered dialogue programs for decades", says that 
what has always been clear - though usually not to the organizers - is the lack of symmetry between the two sides. Few if any Palestinian participants ever express doubt about the justice of their cause or feel obligated to temper their anger at what they consider to be the sins of Zionism. But even supporters of Israel who engage in these programs generally feel compelled to express criticisms of Israel or to show respect if not sympathy for the Palestinian Nakba narrative.
And there's a clear take-away:
That isn’t the sort of dialogue that can help bridge the divide between the two peoples, let alone promote peace. True dialogue involves airing disagreement and promoting respect for differing narratives, not one side affirming the stance of the other... [T]he problem is that there is no comparable force in Palestinian politics to Peace Now, or J Street.
We had similar sentiments in mind when we wrote ["12-Jul-13: Behind the facade at Parents Circle, messages that are deeply disturbing to bereaved families"] this:
We believe Parents Circle leverages our collective bereavement to secure funding for advancing a very specific and particular political line - a line even they concede is unrepresentative of Israel’s bereaved families. Reviewing the public statements of Parents Circle’s key figures over the past decade, a consistent and depressingly familiar political agenda emerges. The Israelis are the aggressors. The Palestinians are the victims. The occupation is at the heart of the conflict. And as for the role of the terrorists, their ideologies and decades of Arab rejectionist politics – that is simply absent. We sincerely support the right of individuals or groups promoting a political view of the conflict to express it in whatever manner they deem fit, and however much it may differ from ours. But exploiting bereavement to raise funds and to promote specific ideological positions is a different matter. The Parents Circle does just that...
Their message adopts the language of bereavement. But in reality it is highly political, and it is perceived that way by their audiences. We feel that, to a great extent, their message is calibrated to meet the expectations of funders.
[Click for our previous blog posts on Parents Circle.]

A final comment about dialogue: we have written several (in our opinion) polite and temperate public critiques of the Parents Circle message and activities over the past 15 years. As far as we can now recall, the only response we ever received was when one of its spokespeople, writing in the Jerusalem Post, wrote
"the discourse that prevails in this country is extremely monologic, racist and aggressive, as evidenced by Frimet Roth's article". 
The article by Frimet ["The sin of forgiveness fervor"] that produced that offensive reaction is archived here.

It's possible dialogue means something distinctive - and perhaps surprising - when they use the word.

08-Aug-17: For our friends in and near Jerusalem

Malki and Michal HY"D became the closest of friends
as little girls and neighbors and are buried side-by-side
in Jerusalem
The annual Aliyah La-Kever (going up to the gravesides) and Azkara (memorial service) in memory of the lives of our daughter Malka Chana Roth and her friend Michal Raziel, may their memories be a blessing, will take place at the Har Tamir cemetery in Jerusalem on Thursday evening, August 10, 2017 (Yud-Het Av, according to the Hebrew calendar, since the actual anniversary falls on Shabbat this year) at 5:30 pm.

The girls, aged 15 and 16, were the closest of friends and neighbours in life. Buried side by side, they were victims of a Hamas attack on a Jerusalem pizzeria 16 years ago that sought, and succeeded, according to the engineer of the massacre, to murder as many Jewish children as possible.

As in previous years, free bus transport will be available to and from the ceremony, leaving the Ramot Alef neighborhood in Jerusalem half an hour before the ceremony, returning afterwards to the same place. For driving and bus directions and for details, please email us and we will be happy to give details.

Donations in memory of the murdered girls will be greatly appreciated. We especially recommend the Malki Foundation as a worthy target of your charitable support.

Friday, August 04, 2017

04-Aug-17: The unmaking of Palestinian Arab losers


Amos Harel writing in Haaretz today ["'Revenge of the Rejects': The Real Reason Young Palestinians Commit Lone-wolf Attacks"] puts a pin in the "look-for-root-causes" balloon.

The IDF believes there have been more than 300 Palestinian-Arab-on-Israeli "lone-wolf terror attacks and copycat attacks", as they refer to them, since October 2015.

Harel says that when first confronted by the emerging reality, the military's intelligence organizations were at a loss to make sense of the waves of stabbings and vehicle-rammings. They systematically addressed their lack of insight and preparedness by turning to the data.

The chief focus was intelligence monitoring of Palestinian Arab social media. As he describes it, they began with
an Excel sheet in which all the available information on the first 80 terrorists was entered. Clear patterns were spotted, with imitation the most prominent: 40 percent of the terrorists who struck in those first months came from the same seven West Bank villages and neighborhoods. Half of the attacks occurred at a small number of locations, with one attacker following in the footsteps of another. Based on this information, the Central Command tailored special security arrangements for the attack-prone sites, with the Gush Etzion junction being number one. 
So while the role of incitement is clearly important, and invoking Al-Aqsa is in danger as the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel - essentially Hamas - is an exceptionally potent trigger, the underlying personal and psychological problems of certain parts of their society make them wide open and receptive.

The patterns and understandings they extracted include:
  • The current crop of attackers are on the whole not religiously devout and for the most part have no history of involvement in any terrorist group. 
  • Far from being "desperate" and "deprived", most - like the young human bomb who exploded in the Sbarro pizzeria back in 2001, murdering fifteen including our daughter - belonged to the center of the socioeconomic spectrum. A relative few came from the highrise ramshackle neighborhoods and dusty villages that reporters love to call refugee camps
  • Most were identified as "relative outsiders" in their own society, and many had identifiable personal problems. Especially noticeable was the number abused at home (especially true of the girls) and impacted by family crises and dysfunction.
  • Many belonged to a personality type that the Central Command intelligence team called, and Harel quotes: “the Revenge of the Rejects”. 
  • Egged on by round-the-clock incitement from multiple parts of Palestinian Arab society from the president on down, the mere picking up a knife transformed these troubled young Arabs into what Harel calls "Palestinian Supermen and Superwomen". Carrying out an attack on Israelis connected the assailant "to a narrative larger than himself or herself, one that imbued the attacker with bravery, with no need for any kind of organizational umbrella". 
  • The role of the social media - Facebook, Twitter, the new generation Palestinian Arab on-line "news sites" among others - was and is especially impactful. 
  • Being declared a martyr, even in cases where the attack was thwarted by the IDF and no Israeli was injured in the process, conferred high status on the attacker post-mortem. 
  • Attacking Israelis, dying as a martyr, becoming the subject of acclaim and perhaps an admiring speech from highly-placed Palestinian Arab personages - all these are an escape from the problems at home or in the town or village. And they bring honor and money - yes, money in large licks - to the family.
When it came to finding immediate triggers, immediate is what they turned out to be:
  • One stabber set out to attack an Israeli after getting into a humiliating argument with his father that resulted in his iPad being smashed.
  • Another, from a middle-class family, reacted to learning that his parents intended to hand control of the family business to one of his brothers and not to him. He did what Palestinian Arab society prepared him for: grabbed the keys of his father's Mercedes sedan and took off to find Israelis he could ram and kill.
And longer-term triggers - what we here call the PA's Rewards for Terror scheme:
A junior Palestinian police officer earns an average of 1,700-2,000 shekels (around $500) per month; a young terrorist will receive a little more than that from the PA, from the very first day of his arrest in Israel. A long-term prisoner can receive about 12,000 shekels (around $3400) a month, a fortune in West Bank terms. Anyone who serves five years in prison is also eligible for a pension – and the army has already arrested some Palestinians who showed up at checkpoints with knives, and later explained that they were six months of prison time away from obtaining the coveted pension.
This aspect is hugely influential. In the world of the Palestinian Arabs, it has long been beyond doubt that money buys martyrs.

There's a flip-side: not for the faint of heart but certainly something that belongs in the counter terror toolkit:
Israel believes the terrorists hesitate when they think their family will pay a price. Hence, the return to the policy of home demolitions (still a subject of fierce debate among security professionals), but also to a wider effort to confiscate funds and illegal vehicles – cars that were stolen or taken off the road in Israel due to technical faults.  
Armed with insights derived from data analysis, some tremendous advantages emerged for the Israeli side which found that
the number of declarations of readiness to commit terror attacks has risen by hundreds of percentage points. The Israeli response relies to a large extent on monitoring the internet and requires close coordination with the forces in the field, who are responsible for making arrests. Recently, a new record was set: Just 24 minutes passed between the time an alert was declared and when the terrorist was arrested en route to the attack. In many other cases, arrests are made within an hour or two. 
He quotes a startling take-away:
The bottom line is that these moves have helped to intercept 90 percent of the lone wolf attacks. 
If that's right, people in other places ought to be paying really close attention too.

04-Aug-17: The complex terror bombing plot in Sydney has roots in ISIS, maybe Saudi Arabia and most worryingly Turkey

Etihad flight over Sydney [Image Source]
An Associated Press analysis of an elaborate and potentially devastating terror plot to bring down an aircraft and its passengers in Australia raises some disturbing concerns - mainly by not focusing on them.

The syndicated report ["Australia police: Men tried to get bomb on Sydney plane", Kristen Gelineau | Associated Press | August 3, 2017] describes a scheme to hide an explosive device on an Etihad Airways flight (the airline is based in Abu Dhabi) out of Sydney in July. The Australian authorities got their first inkling about the plot and the plotters through a tip from unspecified foreign intelligence agencies on July 26, 2017. The suspects were arrested in Sydney on July 29.

The Australian Federal Police said in a media conference today (Friday) that Islamic State played a central role. They described how four men were arrested in a series of raids in Sydney last weekend. The relationships that tie them together have been described vaguely in numerous media reports over the past week:
Four men are being held at the Sydney police station under special terrorism powers after being arrested during counter-terror raids on Saturday night. The ABC has been told the group allegedly planned to conceal the bomb in a kitchen meat grinder before smuggling it onto a plane. A senior police source told the ABC that Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat were among those being held. The two other men, Khaled and Abdul Merhi, are believed to be related, but it is unclear how. ["Sydney terror raids: Police scour raided homes for third day over alleged plane terror plot", ABC Australia, August 1, 2017]
And
The government has so far declined to reveal any further details of the plane threat... All it will say is that the four - believed to be two fathers and their sons - planned to use a "non-traditional" device and had "an Islamist, extremist terrorist motivation." ["Four arrested over alleged plot to bring down aircraft", SBS News Australia, July 31, 2017]
In today's account:
Khaled Khayat, 49, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32, have been charged with two counts of planning a terrorist act. A third man remains in custody, while a fourth was released without charge. Khaled Khayat's brother has not been charged in connection with the plot, because police believe he had no idea the bag contained explosives... They were refused bail and the case was adjourned until Nov. 14. Police have not detailed the men's relationship... One of the men, a 49-year-old from Sydney, brought the device to Sydney airport on July 15 in a piece of luggage that he had asked his brother to take with him on the flight — without telling the brother that the bag contained explosives, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan told reporters. But for reasons still unclear, the bag never got past the check-in counter. Instead, Phelan said, the man left the airport with the bag, and his brother continued onto the flight without it... [Associated Press | August 3, 2017
A little more detail:
Phelan said police still don't know precisely why the bag containing the explosives never made it past the check-in counter. Some theories are that it was too heavy, or that Khaled Khayat simply chickened out... [Associated Press | August 3, 2017]
Reuters today focuses on that grotesque twist - that one brother attempted to send his allegedly-unwitting brother to his death:
Police allege that one of the two men charged late on Thursday had been introduced to Islamic State by his brother, who they said was a senior member of the group in Syria.
Communication between the accused man and Islamic State began around April, police said. Under the instruction of the unidentified Islamic State commander, the men built a "fully functioning IED" (improvised explosive device). One of the brothers was unaware that he was carrying a bomb, disguised as a commercial meat mincer, in his luggage, and tried to check it in at the airport, police said. ["Islamic State behind Australians' foiled Etihad meat-mincer bomb plot: police", Reuters, August 4, 2017]
Now the bombshell:
The components for the device, including what Phelan described as a "military-grade explosive," were sent by a senior Islamic State member to the men in Sydney via air cargo from Turkey. An Islamic State commander then instructed the two men who have been charged on how to assemble the device, which police have since recovered, Phelan said. [Associated Press | August 3, 2017
No one knows at this stage how the military-grade explosives got from
Turkey to Australia [Image Source
Which airline out of Turkey? Which airport? How, if at all, was the incoming consignment checked when it reached Sydney? What do the Turkish authorities say about it?

Turkish Airlines, for the record, carried more passengers to and from Tel Aviv than any other foreign airline serving Tel Aviv back in 2015 when relations between the two countries were frigid. It's a two-way street. At the time, one of Turkish Airlines senior managers said: "The number of flights to Tel Aviv is the greatest on Turkish Airlines network of global routes. It's a profitable route, and it's very important for us to continue promoting it...." Relations are (a little) warmer now between Israel and Turkey since diplomatic relations were restored last summer; we flew with them last year to and from Istanbul and enjoyed the experience.

But as the Australians will now be realizing, it hardly matters whether bilateral relations are warm or cool when you're at risk of terrorists from outside your own country.
The allegation that the Islamic State was able to ship explosives to Australia undetected was troubling, Phelan acknowledged. "All the security agencies and those responsible for security of cargo and so on have put in place extra measures since that time," Phelan said. "It is a concern that it got through, yes, it's hard to deny that."
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the immigration minister had ordered extra security of air cargo. "You would appreciate it is a very big job to screen, and Australia is a very open economy — there is an enormous number of packages moving both inward and outward on any given day," Keenan told reporters. "But we've taken measures to improve screening." [Associated Press | August 3, 2017
The plot then morphed:
After the July 15 bid failed, the men changed tactics and were in the early stages of devising a chemical dispersion device, which they hoped could release highly toxic hydrogen sulfide, Phelan said. No specific targets had been chosen, though an Islamic State member overseas had given the men suggestions about where such devices could be placed, such as crowded areas or on public transport.
Public transport? An Uber car? A train? A jumbo jet? The Manly to Sydney ferry?

In cool, calm Australia, the island continent where air travel is an economic essential, there's genuine and well-founded concern that this deeply disturbing plot
signifies a change in tactics for the Islamic State — from the uncomplicated and bloody attacks we've seen recently to complex, mass casualty attacks against hardened targets... While Australian authorities haven't confirmed the type of explosive police allege Khaled Khayat and his conspirators tried to smuggle onboard the Etihad flight, it is likely it was the same explosive repeatedly used by Al Qaeda in a series of bomb plots targeting the US —PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate). PETN is valued by terrorists because it is hard to detect and has a relatively high yield for its size: about 100 grams can reportedly destroy a car. It's also the explosive of choice for Al Qaeda's most prolific and effective bombmaker, Saudi Arabian citizen Ibrahim al-Asiri. Al-Asiri is a member of Al Qaeda's Yemen-based cell, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and remains one of the most dangerous men in the world. He is responsible for creating the bombs used in most of Al Qaeda's post-9/11 plots against the US, including 'shoe bomber' Richard Reid in 2001, 'underpants bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2009, and a plot involving two bombs smuggled on separate cargo planes bound for the US in 2010. Al-Asiri remains free despite a decade-long manhunt. ["Sydney terror plot: Why police and government concern shouldn't be dismissed as hyperbole", ABC Australia News, August 4, 2017]
If there ever were, it's clear today that there are no safe corners.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

03-Aug-17: Two Shalit Deal beneficiaries are at the heart of a just-busted Hamas terror-financing operation

Shalit Deal terrorists being sent to their ill-gotten freedom, October 2011
How much damage did Israel do to itself by engaging with the terrorist thugs of Hamas in the 2011 Gilad Shalit transaction?

Whatever the answer, the toll is not static. It continues to grow and it includes innocent people murdered by terrorists who had murdered before they were released in the Shalit Deal and then murdered again once they were freed.

As we have said and written on numerous occasions since the catastrophic transaction was put together, we will regret the Shalit Deal for generations.

Here's today's update.

Israel announced that its Shin Bet security service  discovered and unraveled what Times of Israel describes as
a complex Hamas money laundering operation that brought nearly three quarters of a million shekels into the terrorist group’s coffers... Through this plot, which began in early 2016, the group managed to transfer approximately $200,000 (NIS 720,000) into its Hebron offices from Turkey, with help from Gaza, in order to fund terrorist activities... In light of Israeli sanctions on the group, Hamas cannot freely move money in and out of the country. 
Five members of Hamas, all of them residing in Judea and Samaria in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, have been arrested. Two other suspects living in Turkey and the Gaza Strip are wanted but still, as far as we know, free.

The names we know include two men whose ability to engage in the funding of jihadist terror was handed to them as a gift when they were freed by Israel in that notorious 2011 deal with Hamas.
  • The head of the operation is said to be Muhammad Maher Bader. Described as "a senior member of Hamas in Hebron", he is also "a member of the Palestinian parliament" which has not sat for many years. He has been in Israeli custody since June.
  • Muasseb Hashalmon, also of Hebron, is under arrest and described as a money courier who brought cash to Hamas from Turkey.
  • The same for Taha Uthman, also of Hebron.
  • Another resident of Hebron named as Umar Qimri worked with a Hamas agent based in Gaza to conjure up the deals that were meant to disguise the cash transfers. 
  • Yet another resident of Hebron, Yusri Hashalmon, did the same.
The Hamas agent in Gaza is named by Times of Israel as Majd Jaaba who is also originally from Hebron. He has been a Gazan resident since being released to there in the Shalit Deal.

Times of Israel says the Hamas agent at the Turkish end of this scheme is Haron Nasser al-Din, who is also originally from Hebron and like Jaaba got out of prison in the Shalit Deal.

Few in the news media, even in Israel, have closely followed or reported on what the murdering terrorists let loose in the Shalit Deal have done since October 2011. That's why there are unlikely to be reports on who these Shalit winners are and what got them into prison in the first place.

The man called Majd Jaaba is, we believe, prisoner number 996825550. In the Shalit papers, his name is given as Majid Muhammad Yunes al-Jaaba. Born in Hebron in 1970, he had been arrested on April 16, 1995 and charged with multiple offences including intentional homicide. He was found guilty and sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment. As it turned out, he served nothing like that sentence and was released after a mere sixteen years. Now he's back to doing more terror directed at innocent Israelis. To clarify, he was not arrested - he's living free under the Gazan Hamas regime.

The Hamas terrorist holding down the Turkish end of the complex trail is identified in the Shalit papers as Harun Mansur Ya'aqub Nasser al-Din, prisoner number 904273463. He too was born in 1970 and lived in Hebron. On December 15, 1992, he was convicted in an Israeli court of murder, possession of explosives and other related offences and sentenced to life imprisonment. He walked free after less than 19 years, and like his colleague al-Jaaba, is back to his passion for terrorism directed at Israelis. Like al-Jaaba, he is free as a bird, living in Turkey.

Why don't reports of the post-prison exploits of Shalit Deal terrorists tell you what those jihadists did to be in prison in the first place?

By our calculations, based on publicly available documents and our own analysis, of the 1,027 Palestinian Arabs terrorists let loose in the Shalit Deal, 520 - meaning more than half - were in prison for murder, other forms of homicide or attempted homicide.

(The mastermind of the massacre in which our fifteen year old daughter was murdered walked free in the Shalit Deal. Though she has been on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list since March 2017, she is free as a bird under the protection of the Jordanian government which refuses to extradite her. Jordan signed an extradition treaty with the US in 1995.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

02-Aug-17: In Gush Etzion, a thwarted Arab-on-Israel knifing attack this afternoon

The would-be stabber in the hands of her Israeli captors [Image Source]
At the Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem in the cluster of communities called Gush Etzion, IDF soldiers - part of the large contingent securing the busy area - arrested a Palestinian Arab female who came at them with a knife, as so many other Arabs have in the past two years of lethal Arab-on-Israel violence.

The army, quoted in Times of Israel, says the woman was spotted striding toward the soldiers who, aware of her approach, instructed her to stop while raising their weapons in her direction, as protocol requires. She complied with the request, and then “threw away a knife that she had in her possession”. She is now under arrest and helping the Shin Bet with their enquiries.

A photo [above] showing the would-be knifer in the presence of Israeli security personnel, and published by the Fatah-controlled Ma'an News Agency, gives the impression she is very young.

02-Aug-17: Yet another Arab-on-Israel stabbing attack, this time in Yavneh

In a Shufersal supermarket in the southern Israeli city of Yavneh, a store worker busy with unpacking and placing kitchen paper rolls on the shelf this morning was the target of a Palestinian Arab stabber. A high quality security camera (below) caught most of the horrifying savagery.

תיעוד פיגוע הדקירה ביבנה בעיני מצלמות האבטחה - 2.8.17 from rams on Vimeo.

What we know at this stage about the victim is limited. He is said to be a 43 year old man who suffered severe injuries in the frenzied knifing attack and is fighting for his life in Rehovot's Kaplan Hospital. The injuries, in conformance with the knifing incitement currently in vogue among the Palestinian Arabs, are to the upper part of the victim's body: the chest, the neck and the head.

The attacker, said by Times of Israel to be a 19-year-old Palestinian Arab male from the West Bank city of Nablus (but an Arab source names him as a teenage resident of Yatta), attracts no particular attention in the video. He's shown walking down an aisle where the worker is going about his business with no evident sign of wariness. Then with the worker's back turned to him, the resistance hero with the kitchen knife hurls himself at the victim, inflicting what we now know to be life-threatening injuries.

The attacker was eventually stopped and pinned down by ordinary people in the shop. They held him there [video] till police arrived [video].

There will probably be some rationalizations later in the day - desperate, impoverished, avenging his brother's girlfriend's room-mate - as the young thug with the knife helps the police with their enquiries.

But for those of us beyond the stage of "explanations", it's clear enough that what is depicted in the video is the outcome of a society lusting for blood and engaged in incitement-to-murder around the clock. There are many guilty parties.

UPDATE August 2, 2017 at 4:30 pm: The attacker is identified as Ismail Ibrahim Ismail Abu Aram, 19, from Yatta. We last mentioned that town here in connection with - what a coincidence! - an Arab-on-Israeli knifing attack barely a month ago. See "28-Jun-17: The obscene ordinariness of another woman with a knife at an Israeli checkpoint". And a year before that when a couple of Yattans opened up with machine-gun fire on Israeli customers in the Sarona Market terror attack in Tel Aviv, murdering 4 and injuring 16 others: "09-Jun-16: The Tel Aviv killings: Hamas claims credit but Fatah/PA demands some of the glory too".  And before that too: "24-Dec-15: A thwarted stabbing assault near Hebron". Yatta has about 65,000 residents and is situated on Hebron's southern flank. Some 1,800 years ago, it was entirely Jewish until overrun by settlers.

Friday, July 28, 2017

28-Jul-17: In Jordan, a choice among honor and pride and those lying security cameras

Innocent blood spilled by a Jordanian again and the word on
their minds - again - is "honor". Their own honor. [Image Source]
There's a lot to be learned about having a neighbour like Jordan. And about how truth is perceived when the issue is really about honor - Jordanian honor.

Three recent events - the cold-blooded murder of three US Green Berets, the stabbing attack inside the Israeli diplomatic residence, the unprovoked fatal shooting attack launched on the Temple Mount by three members of the same clan - all triggered Jordanian responses that are worth trying to understand.

We are focused on the first of them now: the November 4, 2016 murder of three Green Berets at the entrance to the King Faisal Air Base at al-Jafr in the desert of southern Jordan:
As one of the United States’ staunchest allies in the Middle East, the Jordanians and their military installations are no strangers to U.S. forces coming and going from their gates. Yet in the hours and initial weeks after the attack, Jordanian officials painted a murky picture of what had happened. Immediately following the shootout, they indicated that the Americans had run the gate, failing to stop as instructed. When U.S. officials questioned that account, Jordanian authorities suggested there had been an accidental discharge in one of the Americans’ vehicles that led to the shootout. ["Five minutes and a gunfight for survival: An anatomy of the attack on U.S. Green Berets in Jordan", Washington Post, July 27, 2017]
Relatively little attention was paid in the news media to the murders when they happened. But we noticed:  "18-Nov-16: American service personnel killings in the Mid East get scant reporting and even less comprehension"; "28-Apr-17: Calling the Jordanians to account for the cold-blooded murder of three Green Berets"; and "29-May-17: In Jordan, lives, deaths and separating truth from politically-correct illusions".

The initial report carried by the New York Times downplayed the circumstances:
The Jordanian military said the trainers failed to stop as they approached a gate at the air base in the southern part of the country... A Jordanian military official, who declined to be identified discussing a matter that is now under investigation, said the trainers had tried to enter the base in a vehicle without heeding the orders of guards at the gate to stop... Jordanian officials said privately that initial indications suggested the shooting at the King Faisal air base near Al Jafr on Friday stemmed from some sort of confusion rather than deliberate targeting of the Americans. But American military officials had questions about this version of events. American soldiers certainly know to slow or stop at military base gates, whether in Jordan or anywhere else in the world. It was not clear whether the Americans who were killed were driving or being driven... Security experts in Washington and Amman were concerned that the shooting might reflect increasing radicalization in Jordan... [New York Times. November 4, 2016]
All the factual claims by the Jordanians now turn out to be nonsense. This Jordanian security cam video [here] of the entire sequence of events - which was not shown to the Jordanian military court or published before the trial - is chilling even without a sound track and makes for hard viewing.

But all the way back in November last year. the Jordanians didn't think they had much to explain - or to apologize for - except perhaps what they termed a "split-second" mistake might have been made by their man:
Jordanian officials originally blamed the U.S. troops for breaking protocol when trying to enter the military base, but an investigation later determined the soldiers “were acting in compliance with all procedures and accepted practices,” according to a statement from a U.S. Special Operations Command in March. The Green Berets were in al-Jafar to help train Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State. ["Video shows Jordanian military guard gunning down three US Army Green Berets", The Blaze, July 26, 2017]
And as recently as March 6, 2017, Jordan's official voice in Washington DC - its ambassador, Dina Kawar, a career diplomat - wrote a confident, uncompromising rebuttal addressed to Congressman Ted Poe [letter online here - backup-archived here] denying any and all suggestions that Jordan or any Jordanian was to blame:
The incident was the result of implementation of military rules of engagement following hearing gunshot near the main entrance to the base and the subsequent belief of an ongoing attack. [The shooter] was tasked with swift response...
The shooter and the demands of his tribe: "Freedom for
the hero!" [Image Source]
But eventually, largely because of the determination of the families of the dead US soldiers, the shooter was put on trial in a Jordan military court.

There was no evidence of a split-second mistake. Instead the evidence points to
a six-minute hunt in which Abu Tayeh stalked the lightly armed Green Berets, despite repeated attempts by the Americans to show they were friendly... [Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2017]
Putting it cruelly but factually, the Green Berets were sitting ducks.

This past Sunday the shooter was convicted... leading to explosions of violent outrage on the part of his Jordanian tribesmen:
The soldier, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, pleaded not guilty and said he did not resent the Americans stationed at the base in al-Jafr, the Associated Press reports. He said he opened fire on the American convoy because they failed to stop at the gate, and he thought the base was under attack. After the verdict was read Tuwayha said, "I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job..." [NPR, July 17, 2017
His clan, the Howeitis, stand emphatically with him:
The text of an on-screen banner: "We continue our civil disobedience until justice is done for the hero. Freedom for the hero Maarek Abu Tayeh Al-Howeit."
Protester: "The trial that was held for our son, who defended the homeland and the honor of the Jordanian armed forces, which is within the soldiers' duty... He faced an American court, even though he was defending the homeland. The Americans were killed by the Free Syrian Army, which they were training at the King [sic] Faisal Air Base. It was not Maarek who did this..."
Another protester: "Everybody here understands that the court ruling was political, and had nothing to do with the legal system. The proof is that all the people of Jafr, all the eye-witnesses, saw that the clash was between the Americans and the Free Syrian Army they were training."
Yet another protester: "That soldier, Maarek Abu Tayeh, was defending the honor of Jordan, and the honor of the Jordanian armed forces. He did his duty in keeping with the rules of engagement of the Jordanian army. We had expected him to be acquitted, not to receive a life sentence..."
Woman: "All that Maarek did was his duty. He joined the army when he was 18... They know that he is brave. They know that he is a real man. He is loyal to the King and to the state. Does he deserve to be sentenced for life and to be denied of his mother?"
["Tribal Protest in Jordan following Conviction of Soldier for Murdering Three U.S. Green Berets", video clip with English translation by MEMRI, July 19, 2017; transcript here]
From the Jordanian security cam video: The Green Berets in that first
vehicle were killed instantly shortly after this image was
captured [Image Source]
Unfortunately for the Tuwayha/Al-Howeiti clan, that Jordanian security camera we mentioned above captured a six minute long high definition video record of the killings. It was released a few days ago in order, it seems, to shut down the tribe's protests. That might prove to be hopelessly optimistic.

Here's what the New York Times ["U.S. Soldier Who Survived Shootout in Jordan Tells His Story", NYT, July 25, 2017] saw when they watched it:
  • Jordanian officials at first portrayed the episode as an accident and blamed the Americans, saying that they had broken the protocol for approaching the base, and later saying that they had accidentally fired a weapon, leading the Jordanian guard to believe he was under attack.
  • But surveillance video released by the Jordanian military on Monday and an interview with the 30-year-old American staff sergeant who survived the shootout shows a far more troubling scene: a five-minute clash during which the Americans fired back, crouched behind barriers and waved their hands desperately to stop the shooting, before the Jordanian charged with an assault rifle to try to finish them off.
  • The episode has sent a chill through the normally warm relations between the United States and Jordan, one of its closest Arab allies, and spurred protests in Jordan by members of the gunman’s influential tribe, who believe he is being punished to placate a powerful ally....
  • Training missions at the military base in Jordan had become so routine that the American Special Forces soldiers there wore baseball caps instead of helmets. Most of them had been in a war zone, and Jordan felt far from one. But as their convoy crept toward an entry gate on a sweltering Friday in November, gunshots erupted from a guard post, inciting a shootout that killed three Americans, drove a wedge between crucial allies and ended with a 39-year-old Jordanian soldier sentenced to life in prison for murder.
  • “We kept yelling in English and Arabic, saying we were friends. And he kept shooting,” said the lone American soldier to survive the attack, speaking publicly for the first time about that day. “Eventually, we realized it wasn’t an accident.”
  • The gunman, First Sgt. Ma’arik al-Tawayha, a member of the Jordanian Air Force, was wounded in the fight and sentenced last week by a Jordanian military court to life in prison for the killings of Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Kirksville, Mo.; Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson; and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Tex.
  • The soldier who survived reviewed the video with a reporter from The New York Times on Monday evening, helping to piece together what took place that day. “We were just terrified and confused,” he said. “We didn’t know what was happening, or why, or how many guys were going to come after us.”
  • The video first shows a stark desert road leading to a gate to the King Faisal Air Base in the southern Jordanian town of Al Jafr, where the American soldiers were training Syrian rebels as part of a covert program run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Four trucks are returning from morning mortar training and slowly approach the gate as a Jordanian soldier removes two roadblocks. Standing just off camera was Sergeant Tawayha, a familiar presence at the base, who had probably seen Special Forces pass through the gate twice a day, according to the staff sergeant.
  • For reasons still in dispute, Sergeant Tawayha suddenly began to fire, peppering the second truck with at least 30 shots at close range, killing Sergeant Lewellen and Sergeant McEnroe.
  • The video has no sound, but the staff sergeant said the gunfire that followed was punctuated with screaming from both sides, with the gunman telling them to put their hands up, and the Americans yelling back that they are friends. To try to appease the gunman, they pop their heads up, raising their arms without their guns to indicate a cease-fire, then duck quickly as explosions of dust show bullets hitting the barricade inches from their heads. “I put my gun down, raised my hands a little and he took a shot at me,” the staff sergeant said. “That is when we decided this probably was not an accident.”
  • The soldiers were trapped... “We were trying to wave and we’re getting shot at,” the staff sergeant said. “I gave up with trying to figure stuff out and told him we should just try to kill this guy.” Both had two full magazines left — a total of 60 rounds — but they needed a better defensive position. After nearly four minutes, they sprinted behind their trucks to other concrete barriers farther from the gate... The video shows Sergeant Tawayha run toward the trucks with his rifle leveled. He hides behind the first truck, firing at the Americans, then walks to the second, slowly trying to flank them. Finally, Sergeant Tawayha rushes the Americans with a burst of fire. Both Americans fire their pistols at point blank range, but Sergeant Tawayha shoots Sergeant Moriarty, who slumps to his knees, then collapses...
  • They kept yelling in Arabic and English that they were friends and offered to go away if the guard stopped shooting, but clouds of dust continued to explode as shots hit the barricades.
There are societies and cultures where a high-resolution video record would have an influence on what people understand actually happened. Not in Jordan or not for these Jordanians:
  • The release has done little to calm Sergeant Tawayha’s tribe, the Howeitat... Many still believe that Sergeant Tawayha was doing his duty and is being punished to please the United States... “It is not right, but our government is looking for cash and they’ll do anything to get it [from the Americans presumably],” his brother, Abdul-Rahman Abu Tayeh, said in an interview... “But since the ruling, they are not welcome here.” [The bullet points above are all direct quotes from "U.S. Soldier Who Survived Shootout in Jordan Tells His Story", New York Times, July 25, 2017
Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Lawrence, Kansas with his parents
Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona
Staff Sgt. James F. (Jimmy) Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas
The heavily-armed Jordanian kills three of his country's guests, men whom he encountered daily in his work as a guard, while they - for all practical purposes unarmed and lacking armor - shouted "We're Americans! We're friendly!"

And it's his people who are furious, raging, demanding justice.

Sergeant Tawayha's story is shown to be self-serving, exaggerated, inaccurate, impossible, wrong. But for the Jordanians, all that is of no significance. They want vengeance from those he murdered. And it's themselves they view as wronged.

On that note, please - if you haven't already - see what we wrote here yesterday ["26-Jul-17: We listened carefully to Jordan's minister and we have 10 questions"]. It addresses the painful issue of the yawning chasm between Jordan's aggressive demands for justice and morality and (let's not forget) honor, and the justice and morality and lack of elementary respect the Hashemite Kingdom actually practices. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

26-Jul-17: We listened carefully to Jordan's minister and we have 10 questions

Online source
For reasons that regular readers will know, we watch events in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with more than the usual amount of interest.

Here's an article, under the headline "Jordan sees Israeli reactions to embassy case ‘absurd’" that gets prominence in today's Jordan Times:
AMMAN — A senior official on Tuesday described as “absurd” the Israeli reactions after a diplomat who killed two Jordanians on Sunday arrived back in Israel. Israeli media on Tuesday showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu giving a hero’s  welcome to the unidentified embassy staffer who killed a 16-year-old boy and a surgeon.
“Absurd [are] some of the reactions that are coming of Israel which are trying to show this as if the ambassador and the suspect were under siege and were somehow liberated and celebrating them as heroes coming back home. This is really absurd. This is a criminal case and I think it is in everybody’s interest that it is pursued as such,” Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.
Instead, he said, justice should be allowed to take its course, and to respect the fact that two Jordanians were killed, he added.
Safadi said: “Jordan acted legally and morally [by complying to international laws on diplomatic mission]. It is upon Israel to do the same and allow for justice to take its course and to stop provocative behaviours that distort the facts here.
We respected our obligations under international law because the suspect enjoys diplomatic immunity. We agreed with his statement, which we did and we agreed with the Israelis that he goes back. So Jordan did what it had to do under international law and now  it is incumbent upon Israel to also do what it has to do under the law, which is to allow for the criminal justice to take its course and also to act morally and allow for justice to happen.”
Safadi acknowledged that Jordan’s abidance by international law drew fire domestically, especially from MPs.
“The government is under pressure by deputies because it allowed the Israeli killer to leave,” he said, stressing that the decision had to be taken in this way out of Jordan’s commitments to international conventions.
["Jordan sees Israeli reactions to embassy case ‘absurd’", Jordan Times, July 26, 2017]
Interesting ideas, and some striking expressions that we highlighted. Now we have some questions for Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

Does he, and do any of his advisers, consider that the statements bolded in the quoted piece ought to be taken seriously? Or are we to assume this article, along with its self-justifying expressions of utter devotion to treaties, justice, international practices and high standards of morality, is for domestic Jordanian consumption only?

These are deliberately pointed questions given what we know about the brazenly unlawful way the Jordan government has dealt with the case of a confessed murderer and FBI Most Wanted Terrorist by the name of Ahlam Tamimi.

Tamimi is a citizen of Jordan, born, raised and educated there. Nonetheless she calls herself a Palestinian. Between 70% and 80% of all Jordanians do that.

Tamimi murdered our daughter Malki in 2001 along with fourteen other victims. She did it by masterminding the plot, carefully selecting the target and planting the bomb - who was a human being with an explosives-filled guitar case on his back.

Taking account of an additional victim who is still unconscious today, 16 years later, Tamimi is legally and morally responsible for sixteen lives destroyed - dozens of families broken, hundreds of people maimed and traumatized.

There are numerous on-line video clips and images of Tamimi laughing (literally) about the murders. She has never expressed a single word of regret about the Jerusalem massacre she masterminded. She admitted proudly and with a smile on her face to all the charges in court. Then she was released in the Shalit deal of 2011 when 1,027 terrorists were freed by Israel in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

Back in Jordan, Tamimi subsequently boasted repeatedly about the slaughter on visits to Algeria (December 2011), Kuwait (July 2012 and March 2014), Lebanon (April 2012 and January 2015), Qatar (April 2012 and again in December 2013), Tunisia (April 2012 and November 2015) and Yemen (April 2014).

From Jordan, she has expressed delight about the people she murdered on dozens of occasions speaking in front of Jordanian high school and college students, Jordanian professional guilds and Jordanian women's assemblies. She had her own globally-distributed made-in-Amman weekly television show for more than four years, in which the redemptive power of "resistance" crimes against Jews and Israelis were the core theme. From her Jordanian base, she encouraged her audience to follow her example - kill Jews, kill Israeli children.

So to our questions to the foreign minister of Jordan:
  1. Did Jordan sign a bilateral extradition treaty with the government of the United States on March 28, 1995 in Washington? (Hint: The full text of the treaty as signed and executed by the two governments is here, so presumably you're not going to answer "no".) And did Jordan ever claim - publicly or privately - up until the past year that the treaty was of no effect?
  2. Does "Jordan’s abidance by international law" (using the odd expression in the Jordan Times article) mean Jordan respects the treaty it signed with the US? 
  3. Did Jordan extradite to the US a Jordanian terrorist called Eyad Ismoil who drove a bomb-laden truck into the parking garage of the World Trade Center in 1993? (The right answer is: "Yes it most certainly did.") And is Ismoil now serving a 240 year sentence in a US Federal prison for his terrorist crimes with no chance of parole? Do you agree that this is allowing for justice to take its course? We do. Most people do.
  4. Did the United States announce on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 via the Department of Justice in Washington that the Jordanian woman Ahlam Tamimi was added that day to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list? (Hint: It's recorded here on the DoJ website.) 
  5. Did Jordan react publicly in any way to the news that a Federal criminal complaint against her, alleging the most serious of terrorist crimes, was being unsealed that day? (Hint: it's described here.) Are there any other Jordanians on that notorious list? (We checked. No, there are none except for Tamimi. Congratulations!) So did Jordan react publicly to the fact that a Jordanian was named? (We are fairly sure it did not.) 
  6. Did Jordan respect the fact that two Americans were killed (using a slightly changed form of your words, Minister) by a Jordanian who has repeatedly confessed to doing this? Taking this into account, did Jordan restrict her movements or her privileges in any way? Or is Jordan perfectly at peace with having an FBI Most Wanted Terrorist living freely in its capital city and speaking publicly whenever the mood takes her in its schools and universities and public places? How does any of that fit with you have termed Jordan's passion to act morally and allow for justice to happen?
  7. Did Jordan do what it had to do under international law when the US asked it to extradite Tamimi under the provisions of the 22 year old treaty between the two countries? (Not that we are pressing for it, but did Jordan give thought to prosecuting her under Jordanian law? Can we examine that?)
  8. Or did Jordan resort instead to absurd and insulting-to-the-intelligence claims like "Oops - we should have ratified it back then but we didn't"?  
  9. With uncharacteristic efficiency, just six days after the US authorities announced they wanted her arrested and extradited, Jordan's Court of Cassation (see "Jordan rejects ‘most wanted’ woman’s extradition to US", Arab News, March 21, 2017) "rejected an appeal to extradite Ahlam Al-Tamimi... as her family urged Jordan’s government to ensure Al-Tamimi’s safety. The court upheld a ruling issued by an appeals court, the official Petra news agency reported. Petra, quoting a judicial source, said the extradition cannot go through because Jordan’s Parliament has never ratified an extradition agreement with the US signed in March 1995." On this sober-seeming and very-quickly-arranged legal decision, we ask: 
    • An appeals court? An appeal against what? Did someone in the Jordanian legal system order Tamimi to be extradited and that decision had to be appealed? We don't think so. So who was the appellant? It's a simple question.
    • The US/Jordan extradition treaty - which was already enforced two decades ago to send Ismoil to face Federal charges in the US and was clearly in effect then - wasn't ratified? So ratify it now, this afternoon! If not, why not!? 
    • And what if there is no extradition treaty? You have extradited to countries where you have no treaty. You have demanded that Jordanians be extradited back to Jordan even though no extradition treaty is signed with the countries in question. But then there's this: Your supremely important strategic partner, the United States, is asking you to do it, no? What's holding you back? Is that what you call acting morally and allowing for justice to happen? Or is it the exact opposite?
  10. Tamimi lives freely in Amman, Jordan. Many say she lives the life of a celebrity there and there's plenty of evidence for that. Her murders are a matter of public record and her confessions are too. Jordan harbors her, keeping her under royal protection according to some thank-you messages she has posted in Arabic on social media. So is there some conceivable way in which Jordan's treatment of this sadistic, vicious, deeply bigoted woman fits with Jordan’s commitments to international conventions? Or is compatible with your country respecting its obligations under international law? Or with acting morally?
We're not entirely naive. We assume these questions are going to be ignored as all our previous questions, comments and suggestions to the Jordanian ruling clique have been. We are perfectly aware of how easily voices like ours can be brushed aside.

But we hope to show the minister and his king that brushing aside the questions themselves is going to be less easy.