US to expel terrorist who lied about her past

Convicted terrorist released in prisoner swap immigrates to US by lying on application forms.

Chana Roberts ,

Terrorist Rasmieh Youssef Odeh
Terrorist Rasmieh Youssef Odeh
Rebecca Cook

The US will expel Palestinian-Arab terrorist Rasmieh Youssef Odeh, 69, who was given a life sentence in Israel for carrying out two terror attacks, was released - and lied to become a US citizen.

Odeh was convicted in 1970, and given a life sentence for involvement in two terror attacks.

One of the attacks was carried out in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969, and claimed the lives of two youths and injured nine others. Odeh was charged with placing explosives in a candy box in the supermarket.

The other terror attack was on the British Consulate in Jerusalem, but claimed no victims.

In 1979, Odeh was released as part of a prisoner swap in exchange for reserve soldier Avraham Amram, who accidentally entered an area under the control of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in southern Lebanon together with two other soldiers.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was added to the US list of terror organizations in 1997.

In 1994, Odeh filed for a US visa to visit relatives in Michigan. In her application, she did not mention her past convictions or involvement in terror.

Ten years later, she requested American citizenship. In this application, too, she did not mention her previous involvement in terror or her conviction. If she had, US law would have prevented her from entering the country in the first place.

In 2014, Odeh was tried in Michigan for unlawful procurement of naturalization by not revealing the charges filed against her in an Israeli military court. She was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in jail and deportation, but the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals annulled that conviction in February 2016.

Another trial was set to be held, but Odeh signed a plea bargain with the prosecutors.

During the trial, Odeh refused to say she was "guilty" despite the judge's continued requests.

"To sign this [the plea bargain - ed.], it makes me guilty," Odeh said.

The judge eventually accepted as admission of guilt her statement that, "The agreement says I am guilty and I signed it."

Odeh also said her 1970 conviction came after she suffered 25 days of sexual assault, and claimed she lied to US authorities because she suffered from PTSD.

However, in her plea agreement, Odeh signed that she made the false statements on her immigration and naturalization forms "intentionally and not as a result of any mistake, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or any other psychological issue or condition or for any innocent reason."

"The United States will never be a safe haven for individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts," Steve Francis, Homeland Security Investigations' special agent in charge for Detroit, said on Tuesday in a statement. "When individuals lie on immigration documents, the system is severely undermined and the security of our nation is put at risk."

Protests were held outside the court and supporters held signs saying, "We demand justice for Rasmieh!"

One person stood opposite them holding a sign supporting the students who were killed in the Jerusalem terror attack.

"Justice for Rasmieh's murdered victims! I remember Eddy and Leon, and I'm here for their families," the sign said.

Odeh is associate director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Chicago, which works to aid the city's Arab population. She is well respected in her community for her work with immigrants and Arab women. The director of AAAN Chicago said outside the court that, "The only thing she's guilty of is devoting over 50 years of her life to freeing Palestine."

Odeh will be stripped of her US citizenship and expelled to Jordan or another country after her sentencing hearing on August 17.