Starting Nov. 4, federal prosecutors in Detroit present their case against a Palestinian woman who slipped through the cracks. Rasmieh Odeh, 67, has been in the United States since at least 1995.
To her advocates, she’s a peaceful community activist living in Chicago and an asset to her community.
Yet, she has a bloody, dark side that she has kept hidden all these years.
Odeh is a convicted terrorist who spent 10 years in an Israeli prison. She led a 1969 bombing that killed two college students in a Jerusalem supermarket. Odeh confessed. She says that confession only came after she was tortured. She was sentenced to life in prison, but was released unexpectedly as part of a prisoner exchange in 1979.
Her torture claim has never been substantiated—even by the United Nations, to which she reported the alleged torture after her release—and she has yet to deny her involvement in the murders or even her ultimate imprisonment.
Odeh could have discussed the particulars of her situation when she applied for her visa and citizenship—how her sentence was even commuted—if she felt her alleged torture merited special consideration. Instead, she simply told U.S. authorities she had a spotless record.
Prosecutors say that constitutes immigration fraud. A terrorist conviction for an attack causing two deaths is something immigration officials would want to consider before granting an immigrant a visa or welcoming her into American citizenship.
Still, her supporters have launched an aggressive campaign aimed at getting the fraud charges dropped. Odeh, they say, is the real victim here. They claim this case is really about a government conspiracy to attack Palestinian advocates in America.
The campaign is led by Odeh’s colleagues from the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), but has attracted support from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, and even a group of 124 feminist academics.
In the video above, the first installment of a five-part Investigative Project on Terrorism video series on Odeh’s case and the campaign to thwart it, we provide an overview of the case and a look at Rasmieh Odeh and those supporting her.