Menu JTA Search

Jewish Groups Protest Judge’s Refusal to Extradite Terrorist

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The American Jewish Congress has urged Attorney General Edwin Meese to appeal a federal magistrate’s decision not to extradite a Palestinian terrorist to Israel.

The ruling also was deplored by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

U.S. Magistrate John Caden of the Eastern District of New York decided two weeks ago to reject Israel’s request for the extradition of Mahmoud Abed Atta, whom Israel accuses of attacking an Israeli civilian bus, killing the driver and injuring two passengers.

Although the judge said that “there was probable cause to believe that Atta had participated in a terrorist attack on a civilian bus in which the driver was killed,” he termed the offense “political,” and therefore not coved by Treaty of Extradition between Israel and the United States.

Justin Finger, ADL’s associate national director, said in a statement issued at the time of the ruling that the judge had seemingly adopted the Palestine Liberation Organization’s view “that the murder of innocent civilians constitutes a legitimate means of advancing the PLO’s cause.”

In a letter to Meese, Phil Baum, associate executive director of AJCongress and director of its Commission on International affairs, said that the magistrate’s decision was “in stark contrast with administration policy,” which has consistently called for denying sanctuary to persons accused of terrorist actions.

“The administration had consistently refused to allow terrorists to hide their murderous acts of violence behind the political crimes exception to extradition treaties,” Baum said. He added that Atta’s case should not be an exception to that rule.

Finger asserted that the ambush of a civilian bus “was an act of murder, not politics.” Terrorism, he said, “is not the solution to the Middle East conflict.”

NEXT STORY