Rasmieh Odeh, Palestinian activist, guilty in US immigration case

ABC7 I-Team Investigation

Chuck Goudie Image
Monday, November 10, 2014
Palestinian activist guilty in US immigration case
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A Chicago Palestinian activist was found guilty of hiding her role in a bombing in Israel that happened 45 years ago, the ABC7 I-Team reports.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 67-year-old Chicago Palestinian activist been taken into custody after she was found guilty of hiding her role in a bombing in Israel that happened 45 years ago, the ABC7 I-Team reports.

On Monday, a federal jury found Rasmieh Yousef Odeh of Evergreen Park guilty of immigration fraud for hiding her past- her distant past in 1969 Israel - three attacks including the bombing of a grocery store that killed two college students. Odeh was convicted of failing to report that on her immigration forms. She now faces 10 years in prison and deportation.

Against this backdrop of noisy protesters from Chicago, the 67-year-old Palestinian activist arrived at federal court in Detroit to learn her fate. The case was being prosecuted in southeastern Michigan because this is where Odeh had submitted her citizenship application- paperwork on which she lied, according the government.

After becoming an American citizen, Odeh moved to Chicago and became a top official of the Arab American Action Network.

A year ago she was indicted for lying on her immigration papers, failing to reveal convictions in Israel for the deadly bomb attacks more than four decades ago.

"She's just a wonderful person, she's always caring, she always puts herself out to help others in the community. She is not a threat to anybody," said Jim Fennerty, defendant's attorney.

Odeh claimed she didn't disclose the convictions because they hadn't occurred in the U.S., not to hide them.

The I-Team has learned her violent history was also unknown to her employer at the time she was indicted a year ago. She was certified by the State of Illinois' Department of Insurance, where she worked as an Obamacare counselor.

According to a state disciplinary report, Odeh's Obamacare navigator certification was revoked last November only after her role in the supermarket bombings in Israel became public and the charge she failed to reveal the conviction on her immigration papers.

State officials said Monday they didn't actually hire Odeh as an Obamacare counselor, but that she worked for an outside agency and was certified through the department of insurance..

Her supporters said the trial was unfair and the verdict "a travesty of justice."