When U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, heard the story in 2002 of Palestinian terrorist Nasser Abu Hamid, PLO Marwan Barghouti’s right-hand man, he was stunned.
In December 2002, Abu Hamid, a high-ranking arch-terrorist for whom murdering Israelis was his life’s mission, was sentenced by an Israeli court to seven life sentences and another 50 years imprisonment.
This was the second time he had been sentenced to such a heavy punishment. Abu Hamid, commander of the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, was sentenced in the early 1990s to nine life sentences for hair-raising and contemptible acts, but was released three years later in a gesture by the Israeli government to the Palestinian Authority, which was known at the time as a “confidence building measure.”
Shocked by the Israeli pardons to terrorists, the Republican senator from Pennsylvania submitted an unusual request to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft: To demand that Israel immediately extradite Hassan Salame, the No. 2 man in the Iz a Din al-Kassam Brigades, Hamas’ executive wing.
Salame was sentenced in 1996 to 50 life sentences for his responsibility for the massacre of several dozen Israelis, including three U.S. citizens. In this case too, some of the terror attacks planned and executed by Salame were unprecedented in their cruelty and results, and shocked U.S. public opinion.
In stating his reasons for the request, Specter wrote the following: “There is no reason in the world for this murderer not to be extradited to the US, in order to be punished for an offense that bears the death penalty. In other words, Specter was saying to Israel: What you do with your justice system is your own problem, but America cannot afford to be a partner to this. We have principles of our own.”
Yesterday, after it was reported that Hassan Salame’s name features on the list of 1,300 Palestinian prisoners designated for release, the Bulletin sent a letter to Sen. Specter to inquire as to whether that he will once again demand that Salame be extradited to the U.S., where he will not be released before he finishes serving the sentence for his heinous crimes.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007