Palestinian American woman Rasmieh Yousef Odeh has been charged with immigration fraud as authorities allege she lied about her involvement in a deadly terrorist attack in Israel over 40 years ago.
Odeh, 69, came to the United States in 1995 and became a naturalized citizen in 2004.
It was revealed recently that Odeh was arrested in 1969 for her role in an attack in which bombs were planted in a crowded Jerusalem supermarket and British consulate. Only one of the bombs was detonated. Two people were killed and several more were harmed in the attack. Odeh was arrested by Israeli authorities and sentenced to life in prison.
Ten years later Odeh was released as part of a prisoner exchange negotiation between the Israeli military and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a Palestinian militant group. PFLP captured an Israeli soldier in Lebanon and demanded the release of 76 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier. Odeh was one of the prisoners. 15 years later, she moved to the United States.
During her initial immigration and subsequent naturalization, Odeh made no mention of her previous conviction. According to US authorities, naturalization fraud is an offense punishable with up to 10 years in prison. Odeh may see her citizenship revoked as well.
“An individual convicted of a terrorist bombing would not be admitted to the United States if that information was known at the time of arrival,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a recent press release. “Upon discovery that someone convicted of a terrorist act is in the United States illegally, we will seek to use our criminal justice system to remove that individual.”
Odeh was arrested at her Chicago residence after a federal court in Detroit unsealed her indictment. William Hayes, a homeland security agent overseeing Detroit investigations, released a statement on Odeh’s indictment.
“The United States will never be a safe haven for individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts,” Hayes said. “When individuals lie in immigration documents, the system is severely undermined and the security of our nation is put at risk.”