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Woman faces immigration charges for Israel bombing

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 10:26

Chicago: A woman of Palestinian descent was arrested on immigration charges for allegedly lying about her conviction for a deadly bombing more than 40 years ago in Israel.

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 66, lied on immigration papers when she came to the US from Jordan in 1995 and before she became a naturalised US citizen in 2004, according to a federal indictment.

Making an initial appearance in a Chicago courtroom, Odeh appeared confused at times about the proceedings, leaning over to speak to an attorney.

The indictment was handed down in Detroit, where at least part of Odeh`s naturalisation process took place. She was arrested Tuesday morning at her home in Evergreen Park, just southwest of Chicago, according to prosecutors. Odeh moved to the Chicago area shortly after gaining citizenship in Detroit in 2004, said Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

If convicted of immigration fraud, Odeh could face up to 10 years in a US prison. She could also be stripped of her US citizenship.

Her attorney, James Fennerty, declined to comment Tuesday about the allegations but said Odeh worked as an associate director at the Arab American Action Network, a Chicago-area nonprofit group that advocates for new immigrants and tries to combat anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice.

Odeh was arrested in a 1969 attack that involved bombs planted at a crowded Jerusalem supermarket and a British consulate, the indictment says. Only one bomb one of two placed at the supermarket exploded, killing the two people and wounding several others. Israeli authorities have said the attacks were planned by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

An Israeli military court sentenced Odeh to life in prison in 1970, but she was released 10 years later in a prisoner exchange with the Popular Front. Israel released 76 prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon, according to Odeh`s indictment.

The PFLP rose to prominence with a series of hijackings and other attacks in the 1960`s and 1970`s that killed scores of people. These days, it`s a small militant Palestinian faction.

The group`s leader, Ahmad Saadat, is in jail for his role in the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister in 2001.

First Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 10:26

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