Israel won't seek extradition of jailed Hamas leader
April 3, 1997
Web posted at: 10:02 a.m. EST (1502 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Citing security concerns, Israel on
Thursday announced it will no longer seek the extradition of
Mousa Abu Marzook, an Islamic militant leader jailed in New
Contacts were under way with Jordan to arrange for Abu
Marzook to be sent there instead, Israel radio said.
Abu Marzook was arrested in July 1995 at John F. Kennedy
Airport when immigration inspectors noticed he was on a list
of suspected terrorists. A leader for the Islamic
fundamentalist group Hamas, Abu Marzook, 46, is suspected of
financing and planning terrorist attacks against Israelis.
In a statement released Thursday, Israel said, "The
government of Israel has informed the United States of its
request to suspend at this stage its request for the
extradition of Mousa Abu Marzook."
"The decision was taken on the basis of the overall
considerations concerning security and prevention of
Relations between Israelis and Palestinians have deteriorated
sharply since Israel began building a Jewish settlement in
disputed East Jerusalem, triggering days of stone-throwing
violence. Islamic militants have renewed suicide bombings,
and Israeli security officials have warned of more possible
Israel faced deadline
Thursday's announcement came after Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu met with senior Cabinet ministers and
security officials. Netanyahu had been reluctant to renew the
extradition request, apparently concerned that a high-profile
terrorist trial could pave the way for more attacks.
The decision came just before a weekend deadline for Israel
to make clear its intentions regarding Abu Marzook.
Immediately after Abu Marzook's 1995 arrest, the previous
Israeli government requested his extradition to Israel.
Israel had sought to put Abu Marzook on trial on suspicion he
backed terrorist attacks against Israelis.
A U.S. federal court judge ruled in May 1996 that there was
reason to believe Abu Marzook was involved in 10 attacks from
1990 to 1994 in which 47 people were killed and 148 injured.
Abu Marzook dropped his appeal against extradition in January
of this year.
A resident of Virginia since the early 1980s, Abu Marzook has
repeatedly denied his involvement in the attacks, saying he
is the political leader of Hamas with no ties or control over
the militant wing of the organization.
Meanwhile, U.S. prosecutors noted at a Tuesday hearing that
Abu Marzook has an immigration matter pending against him --
meaning he could remain jailed in the U.S. despite Israel's
decision not to seek extradition.
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