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A Palestinian woman who perpetrated an infamous 1969 supermarket bombing in Jerusalem, and who later immigrated to the US, has been convicted in a plea deal of immigration fraud by a US federal court in Detroit and is expected to be deported to Jordan.
In 1970, an Israeli military court convicted the woman, Rasmea Odeh, of participating in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine bombing.
The terrorist attack killed two people – Hebrew University students and roommates Leon “Arie” Kanner, 21, from Netanya, and Edward Jaffe, 22, formerly of Cape Town, and living near Tel Aviv – at the SuperSol supermarket on Agron Street in Jerusalem.
Odeh was sentenced to a life term.
She served 10 years of that sentence before getting an early release in 1980, in a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and the PFLP. She immigrated to the US in 1995, but lied to the US on her immigration form, omitting her Israeli murder conviction from answers about any criminal record.
Shurat Hadin director Nitsana Darshan- Leitner, who represented Edward Jaffe’s brother Harold, and assisted the US Department of Justice with compiling evidence, responded to the conviction saying, “There was never any doubt that Rasmea Odeh was the same PFLP member who was convicted by the Israeli court for the supermarket bombing.”
“Despite her efforts to conceal her past, continuously lie about her identity and blur the reasons for falsifying her immigration application, her terrorist activities have caught up with her,” Darshan- Leitner continued.
She added, “It’s regrettable that she is merely being deported to Jordan and not serving more jail time, as this is a Palestinian terrorist with no respect for the rule of law… and [who] continues to pursue her own interests without any remorse or pause.”
In March, when Odeh agreed to the plea bargain, but before it had been made binding by court endorsement, Harold Jaffe told The Jerusalem Post that he was concerned that Odeh could renege on the deal.
“It’ll be done when it happens, when it’s done, it’s done,” he added.
Jaffe speculated that Odeh finally agreed to deportation once she faced the possibility of up to another 20 years in prison.
In February, the US Attorney’s Office in Michigan announced it would seek the Palestinian Authority’s permission to depose two Palestinian women who conspired with Odeh to perpetrate the 1969 supermarket bombing, in an effort to deport her and debunk her defense that she only confessed to the bombing after being tortured by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Absent the plea deal, Odeh’s retrial had been scheduled for May 16 in which the US would argue that she lied and covered up her terrorist past on a US immigration form, actions that justify her deportation.
In November 2014, a Detroit federal jury convicted Odeh of concealing her life imprisonment in Israel, and in March 2015 she was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison, have her US citizenship canceled and be deported to Jordan.
But in February 2016, a US appeals court threw out Odeh’s original US conviction, saying the trial court should have allowed expert testimony that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to Shin Bet torture in prison and did not know her statements to immigration officials were false.
Wednesday’s conviction ends Odeh’s legal saga in the US.