Admitted Palestinian terrorist may be deported from US (updated)
A Chicago activist might plead guilty in Detroit to failing to tell US immigration officials about her conviction in a deadly bombing in Israel in 1969, her attorney said Saturday. If convicted, she may face deportation.
A court hearing is scheduled Wednesday for Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago.
“We are engaging in serious negotiations, which could lead to a guilty plea,” defense lawyer William Swor told The Associated Press. “If she enters a guilty plea, she will likely have to leave the country.”
Odeh, who is in her 60s, entered the US from Jordan in 1995 and became a naturalized citizen in 2004. She is charged with not disclosing her past when she applied for citizenship in Detroit.
Odeh was convicted of an attack that killed two people at a Jerusalem market in 1969. An Israeli military court sentenced her to life in prison in 1970, but she was released 10 years later in a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The government hasn’t said how it learned about Odeh’s record.
The indictment refers to her as Odeh, but she’s commonly known as Rasmea Yousef in Chicago. Hatem Abudayyeh, head of the Arab American Action Network, called her an “icon” in the community after her arrest last year. She’s been free on bail.
Here are some details on the bombing from JTA, February 24, 1969:
Many housewives brought bouquets of flowers today to the employees of Supersol, Israel’s largest supermarket, but the bright spring colors could not overcome the evidence of grisly destruction wrought by a terrorist bomb last Friday. The two victims of the Supersol bombing, Leon Kaner, 21 of Netanya, and Edward Jaffe, 22, or Kiron, a Tel Aviv suburb, were buried Sunday side-by-side as thousands stood by. They were friends, room-mates and students together at Hebrew University. They had been buying canned food for a botanical field trip when they were blown to bits.
The supermarket re-opened for business today and was thronged, mostly by Israelis who wanted to view the damage to the rear of the store, which is part of a chain in several municipalities. Nine persons were injured in the blast–the eighth terrorist bombing since the 1967 war. All told 15 persons have died and 151 have been injured in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv bombings.
About 150 persons, mostly women and children, were in the store doing their pre-Sabbath shopping–at 11 A.M., one of the peak shopping hours–when the explosion sent goods flying and broke glass. They ran screaming into the streets. Police said that the explosives consisted of “primitive gelignite charges” placed in coffee cans on a shelf among oil cans.
About 15 minutes after the store had been cleared, a second somewhat smaller bomb was found and de-fused. A third one was found in front of the British Consulate in East Jerusalem and detonated in a field. The explosion recalled the dynamiting of the Mahane Yehuda marketplace in Jerusalem last November which killed 12 persons and wounded 55.
The PFLP took responsibility for the attack, and Odeh never hid the fact that she was a member of that terrorist group. In fact, she admitted to Israeli police that she carried out the attacks.
Jerusalem police said today that they had confessions from three suspects directly involved in planting bombs that wrecked the Supersol supermarket in West Jerusalem on Feb. 21, killing two Hebrew University students and injuring nine other persons. About 40 members of the gang responsible for the supermarket blast and subsequent bomb plantings at the British Consulate in East Jerusalem have been arrested. Today police said that all members of the gang were in custody.
Police said the bombs were planted by two girls who received the explosives from a third saboteur. They were concealed in shopping bags. The crime has been reconstructed with the aid of the suspects, according to police.
Even though the facts of the case are clear, and no one disputes that Odeh lied on her application to become a US citizen, anti-Israel groups have been whitewashing her role and pretending that this is some sort of US witch-hunt against Arabs. Here’s part of a petition, signed by 1500 people, from last November:
On October 22, the Department of Homeland Security arrested Rasmea in her home for alleged immigration fraud as part of an ongoing witch-hunt that targets Arabs and Muslims who criticize U.S. and Israeli policy and labels them “terrorists.”
Rasmea has been demanding justice for Palestinians for most of her life. Like the experience of approximately 20% of the total Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza, she spent time as a political prisoner in Israeli jails in the 1970’s. There, she was violently tortured and humiliated— despite the international legal prohibition on torture and ill-treatment.
What evidence is there of torture? Zero*. Ray Hanania writes in her defense:
An Israeli military court convicted Odeh and three others “for membership in an illegal organization,” (the PFLP) and as such she was accused of participating in all three bombings. Odeh’s supporters insist she was tortured by Israeli interrogators who are notorious for their brutality, and she was forced to make an admission of guilt.
Odeh’s supporters insist she was not involved in the attack and was convicted the same way all Palestinians are convicted in the Israeli court system, without justice or the right to defend themselves. Odeh has refused to discuss the incident and declined several interview requests on the issue. At the time of the attack, Israel was arresting and killing Palestinians as a part of a campaign to eliminate critics in the West Bank which it had occupied only 21 months earlier.
So if Odeh has never spoken publicly about why she pleaded guilty in Israel for the terror attack or about her allegedly being tortured, how do her supporters “know” she was tortured?
They don’t. They made it all up. They are just interested in damning Israel, not the truth.
Hanania of course doesn’t mention the other terrorist bombings in Israel at the time, by pretending that she was just arrested as a critic in the West Bank. But he does say that it is not right for people to blow up other people, so that makes him a “moderate.”
The idea that Odeh was tortured into this admission – yet told police exactly how she placed the bombs – is ridiculous.
(Hanania also makes the completely absurd claim that “For every one Israeli who has tragically died in this ongoing conflict, 400 Palestinians have died at the hands of Israeli settlers, extremists in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and as part of Israel’s official policy of ‘extra-judicial killings’.” This is another obvious lie. There have been over 3700 Israelis killed by Palestinian Arab terror [not counting other Arab attacks] since 1948, which would mean that 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs have been killed, an absurd number. The real number is closer to 20,000, a lie of 2 orders of magnitude.)
At a Milwaukee “Nakba Day” rally last week, the Israel-haters held several signs to “free Rasmea.”
(UPDATE: Additional info from Bob K)
*UPDATE 2: Bob found a video where Odeh does say she was tortured. I don’t know how truthful her testimony is, she claims that the Israelis tried to force her father to sleep with her. Her friend in the video who says she witnessed the torture says that it prompted her to show the Israelis “where the weapons were hidden” meaning that they do not deny that they were terrorists.
Starting at about 10:00 Odeh’s partner describes their role in placing the bomb in the SuperSol, so there is no doubt that Odeh is guilty, even if what she claims about being tortured is true.