Palestinian terrorist gets jail for lying on US immigration form

Rasmieh Odeh gets 18 months behind bars and will likely be deported for covering up role in deadly 1969 Jerusalem bombing

Rasmea Yousef Odeh, November 10, 2014. (AP/Carlos Osorio, File)
Rasmea Yousef Odeh, November 10, 2014. (AP/Carlos Osorio, File)

DETROIT — A former Palestinian terrorist living in Chicago has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for failing to disclose her convictions for bombings in Israel when she applied to be a US citizen.

Rasmieh Odeh appeared Thursday in Detroit’s federal court, backed by dozens of supporters. She will remain free while she appeals.

Odeh will likely be deported to Jordan upon her release, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

Judge Gershwin Drain said Odeh was a terrorist decades ago but has changed her ways. Nevertheless, he said, she lied.

Odeh helps run Chicago’s Arab American Action Network. In 2004, she answered “no” on her citizenship application when asked about past convictions.

She says she believed the questions were about US crimes.

Prosecutors requested a sentence of five to seven years for lying on the form, well above the federal sentencing guideline of 12 to 18 months.

“A light sentence in this case would be a signal to anyone who has fought overseas for ISIS or a similar organization that there is not much risk in coming to the United States, hiding one’s past and seeking citizenship,” prosecutors Jonathan Tukel and Mark Jebson wrote.

Odeh was convicted in Israel of two bombings in Jerusalem in 1969 and was sentenced to life in prison.

One of the bombings killed Hebrew University students Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner at a grocery store.

Odeh, 67, said Israeli authorities tortured her into confessing.

Israel released Odeh in 1979 in a prisoner exchange with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group behind the bombings.

Odeh entered the US in 1995 and applied for citizenship in Detroit in 2004.

Odeh supporter Hatem Abudayyeh condemned the judge’s rulings and the case as a whole.

“Since both defense motions challenged how Drain conducted the trial, it came as no surprise,” Hatem Abudayyeh of the Rasmea Defense Committee said in a statement after her conviction last month. “We know that the conviction was a travesty of justice, and that Judge Drain’s rulings made it impossible for the jury to give Rasmieh a fair shake.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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