Forever fifteen

Malki at a birthday party the evening before she was murdered

Today (Friday November 27) we mark yet another agonizing birthday.

My sweet daughter Malki would now be thirty-five years old if Hamas operative Ahlam Tamimi had made some misstep on August 9, 2001.

But Tamimi was and still is a seasoned, determined, efficient and blood-thirsty terrorist.

In the Sbarro bombing which she confesses she masterminded and which she calls “my operation”, seven babies and children perished with nine adults – some parents alongside their offspring. It was an unmitigated massacre.

Never could we have imagined that her murderer would now be free as a bird – and protected by a ruler who is coddled by both the United States and Israel – King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Tamimi’s stated determination to kill Jews is matched only by the determination of world leaders to ignore our pleas to correct the travesty of justice that Tamimi’s freedom embodies.

Our letters, phone calls, op-eds, tweets and front-page advertisement have fallen on deaf ears. They have only elicited excuses, evasive double talk, or total silence from most of the people who could easily assist us if they cared to.

There are no obstacles in their path:

  • Legislation has existed for years empowering the US to arrest, try and convict terrorists in US courts under US law if they kill a US national, which Malki was.
  • In 1995, an extradition treaty was signed and ratified between the US and Jordan and accepted valid by both countries. The State Department still takes that view.
  • Tamimi was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list in 2017. A $5 million State Department reward for her capture and conviction was announced in 2018.
  • Legislation enacted in 2019 empowers the US to impose a foreign aid sanction on any country failing to abide by its treaty obligation to the US, a measure likely directed at Jordan.

None of the steps that could be taken to right this moral wrong has been taken.

It is demoralizing to realize that politicians, religious leaders, community figureheads and journalists across the board just don’t care about seeking justice when doing so is unlikely to win them kudos.

Of course, we nevertheless intend to continue this fight. On this birthday, we cannot embrace Malki or the family we dreamed she would be blessed with by now. We can only write the next email or make the next phone call with the prayer that it will hasten Tamimi’s long awaited extradition.

About the Author
A Jerusalem-based freelance writer, law graduate and commentator on the challenges facing people with special needs, Frimet Roth together with her husband Arnold co-founded The Malki Foundation ( in 2001. It provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child. The Roths' daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the terrorist bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria. Her personal blog, under the title "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly", is at The views expressed here are personal.
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