Chicago, IL-A Palestinian woman who became a naturalized U.S. citizen has been arrested for immigration fraud after she lied about her involvement and subsequent conviction for two bombings Israel in the late 60s.
Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 66, has been living in the Chicago-area for a number of years, working as an activist in the Palestinian community, the Chicago Tribune reported. She is known as a peaceful activist but federal authorities say she has a violent past which she hid from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on two separate immigration applications.
As a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has been identified as a terrorist organization, Odeh was accused and later convicted of planting several bombs in a supermarket and at the British Consulate in 1969. Two people were killed and several others were injured in the supermarket bombing. No injuries resulted from the British Consulate bombing, but there was structural damage.
Odeh was convicted by Israeli officials and was sentenced to life in jail. She was released after only ten years in a prisoner exchange and returned to the West Bank. Her sentence was eventually commuted.
She entered the U.S. in 1995, but failed to report her affiliation with the PFLP and her conviction for the bombing. When she applied for and was granted U.S. citizenship in 2004, she again lied about her terrorist past, the federal indictment stated.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade, according to the New York Daily News.
Odeh was arrested Tuesday and if convicted of lying on her immigration applications she will be stripped of her U.S. citizenship and could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“The United States will never be a safe haven for individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts,” said William Hayes, acting special agent in charge for 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.”
While living in the U.S., Odeh made a name for herself as a peaceful advocate for the Palestinian people in the Chicago area. She is well liked in her community, with some members criticizing her arrest as another means of to oppress Palestinians who speak out about Israeli and U.S. foreign policy.
“It’s an escalation of attacks on our community. … We’re very, very angry,” Hatem Abudayyeh, leader of the pro-Palestine group Committee to Stop FBI Repression told the Chicago Tribune, “This is a community under siege, and now a 66-year-old woman is under siege from this federal government.”
Odeh’s has been released on bond until her November 1st hearing.
Hyperbole aside, anyone whether they are a convicted terrorist, suspected war criminal, or just your average Joe, will face deportation and criminal charges if they lie on the immigration applications.