Con­victed ter­ror­ist pleads guilty to ly­ing on visa about crim­i­nal record

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON This ar­ti­cle is based in part on wire ser­vice reports.

Con­victed ter­ror­ist Ras­mea Odeh, who has lived in the United States since 1995, pleaded guilty Tues­day to ly­ing about her crim­i­nal past on her visa ap­pli­ca­tion as part of a deal in which she agreed to be de­ported in ex­change for no prison time.

Odeh, a long­time Pales­tinian ac­tivist in Chicago, ap­peared in fed­eral court in Detroit af­ter sign­ing an agree­ment ad­mit­ting that she failed to dis­close on the ap­pli­ca­tion her con­vic­tion in two 1969 bomb­ings in Jerusalem, in­clud­ing an at­tack that left two dead.

Even so, the 69-year-old Odeh re­fused to ut­ter the word “guilty” un­der re­peated ques­tion­ing by U.S. District Judge Gersh­win A. Drain, in­stead saying, “I signed this,” ac­cord­ing to The Associated Press.

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

A mem­ber of the Popular Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine, Odeh was found guilty in the bomb­ing of a Jerusalem su­per­mar­ket that killed two He­brew Univer­sity stu­dents, Ed­ward Joffe and Leon Kan­ner.

She was sen­tenced to life in prison for the su­per­mar­ket at­tack as well as the 1969 bomb­ing of the Bri­tish Con­sulate, but was re­leased in a 1980 pris­oner ex­change.

Odeh and her sup­port­ers have main­tained that she was tor­tured into con­fess­ing, which pros­e­cu­tors have dis­puted. She was found guilty of im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions in a 2014 trial and sen­tenced to 18 months in prison, but her con­vic­tion was over­turned in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

Even though she was en­ti­tled to a new trial, which was sched­uled to be­gin in May, she ac­cepted the plea agree­ment in March. If found guilty, she could have been sen­tenced to a max­i­mum 10 years in prison.

As part of the deal, she signed a doc­u­ment ac­knowl­edg­ing that “she made the false state­ments in­ten­tion­ally and not as a re­sult of any mis­take, Post-Trau­matic Stress Dis­or­der or any other psy­cho­log­i­cal issue or con­di­tion, as she had pre­vi­ously claimed in court pro­ceed­ings, or for any in­no­cent rea­son,” ac­cord­ing to the Justice Depart­ment.

A nat­u­ral­ized U.S. ci­ti­zen, Odeh is sched­uled to be stripped of her cit­i­zen­ship at her Aug. 17 sen­tenc­ing hear­ing be­fore Judge Drain.

“As part of the plea agree­ment, Odeh agreed to a ju­di­cial or­der of re­moval, un­der which she will be de­ported to her na­tion of cit­i­zen­ship, Jordan, and will not be al­lowed to reen­ter the United States,” said a press re­lease Tues­day from the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice for the Eastern District of Michi­gan.

Out­side the court­house, her sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing those with Justice for Ras­mea, held signs with mes­sages such as, “Stop Anti-Arab Racism,” while video showed Odeh hug­ging friends and col­leagues be­fore en­ter­ing the court­room.

“Ras­mea’s case brought to­gether move­ment for black lives, anti-tor­ture, anti-war, & more to fight for lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine,” said Jus­tice4Ras­mea in a tweet.

Mean­while, an Odeh critic held a plac­ard saying, “Justice 4 Ras­mea’s mur­dered vic­tims.”

“Ras­mea also was on the list of pris­on­ers whose re­lease was de­manded by the Black Septem­ber ter­ror­ists who took Is­raeli hostages at the 1972 Mu­nich Olympics,” said Cor­nell Law School pro­fes­sor Wil­liam A. Ja­cob­son on Le­gal In­sur­rec­tion web­site. “Yet Ras­mea’s sup­port­ers would have you believe she was just an in­no­cent po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist.”

Odeh’s sup­port­ers had ar­gued that she was un­likely to re­ceive a fair trial un­der “racist” At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions and “Zion­ist” As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Jonathan Tukel.

Odeh, who served as as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of the Arab Amer­i­can Ac­tion Net­work, spoke ear­lier this month at the Jewish Voices for Peace con­fer­ence in Chicago.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ras­mea Odeh (right) ad­mit­ted to ly­ing on her U.S. visa ap­pli­ca­tion about her crim­i­nal record, in­clud­ing a con­vic­tion for bomb­ings in Is­rael in the 1960s. For the ad­mis­sion, she will get no jail time but be de­ported.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.