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State seeks permission to extradite man wanted for murder in US

Haitim Taha, 21, fled to Israel after allegedly taking part in 2017 Alaska shooting that killed a teen bystander

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: A policeman holds handcuffs. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative: A policeman holds handcuffs. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The state prosecution has filed a request to have a man declared extraditable to the US, where he is suspected of participating in a fatal drive-by shooting in Alaska, the Justice Ministry said in a statement Monday.

According to paperwork submitted to the Jerusalem District Court, Haitim Taha, 21, a US citizen, is wanted to face charges of murder, assault and other offenses.

Taha was arrested Sunday by the Israel Police, the statement said.

An extradition request submitted by the US government says that on April 7, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska, a verbal altercation broke out involving Taha, his friend — named in US media reports as Anthony Salazar — and an acquaintance of theirs.

Later that day, in a street nearby, Taha and Salazar, who was 16 at the time, drove past the third man as he was exiting another vehicle and, according to police, opened fire. Their intended victim drew a gun and shot back.

In the exchange of fire, 17-year-old Leroy Lawrence, an innocent passerby, was hit in the neck and killed.

Although Salazar was taken into custody, Taha escaped and later entered Israel on July 9, 2017, using his US passport. He has remained in the country ever since.

On September 13, 2017, indictments were filed in the US against Taha and Salazar, for murder, assault and other crimes.

The case is being handled in cooperation with the Israel Police and Interpol.

On Sunday, prosecutors filed a similar request at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to have two Israeli-French men declared extraditable to France, where they face charges of tax fraud amounting to over €50 million.

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