Two decades ago this week on the Hebrew calendar, a typical Thursday in downtown Jerusalem was instantly transformed into a horrifying day of carnage when a Palestinian suicide bomber entered a crowded Sbarro pizza restaurant intent on committing mass murder.
It was on the 20th of Av, or August 9, 2001, that Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, a 22-year-old Palestinian from a well-to-do family, detonated an estimated five to 10 kilograms of explosives hidden inside a guitar, killing 15 people and injuring 130 others. Two of the dead, 15-year-old Malki Roth and Shoshana Greenbaum, who was pregnant at the time, were US citizens.
To cause maximum harm, the bomb was laced with nails along with nuts and bolts in order to shred and tear through the victims' flesh with still greater force and efficacy.
Seven Jewish children were among those who died that day. One of the injured, Chana Nachenberg, a US national, remains hospitalized 20 years later in a vegetative state.
Incredibly, Ahlam Tamimi, one of the key masterminds and participants in this gruesome attack is living openly and freely in Jordan, a so-called ally of the United States, which has adamantly refused to hand her over to Washington. This cannot be allowed to stand.
The blood of the victims of the Sbarro bombing cries out for justice and it is incumbent upon the Biden administration to take swift action and compel Amman to extradite Tamimi to stand trial.
Tamimi, who remains unrepentant and has gloated in the past about her role, planned the attack, selected the target and even drove the perpetrator to the site while disguised as a Jew.
Shortly afterward, Tamimi was captured, tried and convicted by Israel. Despite receiving multiple life sentences, she was inexplicably released in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange deal for Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier who had been kidnapped by Hamas.
Four years ago, on March 14, 2017, the US Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint against Tamimi, charging her with "conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals outside the US, resulting in death." She was also placed on the FBI's list of Most Wanted Terrorists.
In a statement released at the time, acting assistant attorney general for National Security Mary B. McCord said that the charges "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."
Nonetheless, little has happened in the interim, as Jordan continues to thumb its nose at the US.
The bombing, which took place just one month before the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, left a permanent scar on all those affected by it.
As an eyewitness told a British newspaper at the time, "There were people – babies – thrown through the window and covered with blood. The whole street was covered with blood and bodies: the dead and the dying."
A young soldier who was walking nearby added, "The worst thing I saw, which I think will haunt me all my life, is a baby that was sitting in a stroller outside a shop and was dead. After the explosion, the baby's mother came out of the store and started screaming hysterically."
The Sbarro massacre was, quite simply, one of the worst acts of Palestinian terror of the 21st century.
In recent years, thanks largely to the tireless efforts of Frimet and Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki was murdered in the attack, more pressure is being brought to bear on Washington and Amman to move the Tamimi case forward.
Last year, 18 American Jewish organizations issued a strongly worded joint letter expressing "collective outrage over the Kingdom of Jordan's refusal to extradite the murderer of American citizens."
They further urged US officials to hold Jordan "accountable to its commitments under its extradition treaty with the United States and bring all pressure to bear" on the desert kingdom.
Nonetheless, earlier this year, Interpol inexplicably decided to drop its international arrest warrant against Tamimi.
And when Jordan's King Abdullah visited Washington last week for a much-publicized visit to the White House, a US government spokesman refused to say whether the Tamimi case had been raised in discussions between the president and the monarch.
But Joe Biden did go to the trouble of lavishing praise on Abdullah in front of the cameras, calling him a "good, loyal and decent friend."
This is nothing less than scandalous.
After all, Washington sends $1.3 billion of US taxpayer money to Jordan each year in the form of foreign aid, even though the kingdom continues to harbor a terrorist wanted for the murder of Americans.
And, as Arnold Roth told the Daily Caller website on July 20, "There is an important issue of justice no one is addressing and to the extent that this woman is still free is a stain on the moral fabric of the US."
It is time for this outrage to end and for America to demand that King Abdullah hand over Tamimi to stand trial for her crimes. The victims of Sbarro deserve no less.