US Unseals Charges Against Freed Hamas Terrorist

WASHINGTON (CN) – U.S. prosecutors unsealed charges Tuesday against a Jordanian woman who served just eight years of multiple life sentences in Israel for helping a suicide bomber blow up an Israeli pizzeria in 2001.

Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi pleaded guilty to the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in 2003 but she was released from prison in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas.

The U.S. Department of Justice revealed Tuesday that its criminal complaint against Al-Tamimi in Washington, D.C., has been under seal since 2015.

Al-Tamimi has been living in her homeland of Jordan since her release from prison. Though Jordan’s courts forbid the extradition of Jordanian nationals, the United States has put Al-Tamimi on its list of Most Wanted Terrorists and says it is working with its foreign partners to hold Al-Tamimi accountable.

Believed to be in her mid-30s now, Al-Tamimi was a journalist with Istiklal Television living in the West Bank at the time of the Sbarro bombing in the summer of 2001.

FBI Special Agent Laura Walter signed a 4-page affidavit unsealed Tuesday that details Al-Tamimi’s work for the military wing of Hamas, known as the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

First in July 2001, Al-Tamimi hid a beer can bomb on a supermarket shelf where she believed it would go unnoticed. No one died when Al-Tamimi detonated the device, however, so she agreed to help a suicide bomber later that summer.

Agent Walter says Al-Tamimi talked the bomber out of his plan to disguise the bomb in an Arab musical instrument known as an Oud, hiding it in a Western guitar instead.

On Aug. 9, Al-Tamimi and the bomber got in a taxi with the guitar bomb, then returned to Ramallah as the bomber entered a Sbarro pizza parlor.

The explosion killed the bomber and 15 civilians, including seven children and two U.S. nationals. Four Americans, one of who was just 2 years old, were among the 122 people injured.

Al-Tamimi was given 16 consecutive life terms after her conviction in Israel.

Agent Walter’s affidavit notes that Al-Tamimi expressed no remorse for the bombing at her sentencing, where she ”gave a statement in which she admitted her involvement in the bombing, expressed satisfaction at its results and expressed no remorse for those who were killed or injured.”

The Jordanian national also goes by the nicknames Khalti or Halati.

Should Al-Tamimi be successfully extradited to the U.S. and then convicted before a jury, officials said Tuesday that “the maximum penalty for a person convicted of this charge is a lifetime term of incarceration or death.”

Mary McCord, the acting head of the Justice Department’s national security division, called Al-Tamimi “an unrepentant terrorist.”

“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,” McCord said in a statement.