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November 13, 2014 – An NGO claimed that it assisted the US Attorney’s Office in Detroit in convicting a prominent Palestinian activist on Monday of lying to the US about her terrorist past in Israel and committing immigration fraud when she became a US citizen.
The activist, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 67, was found guilty by a federal court in Detroit of failing to reveal to US authorities that she had been convicted and served time in Israel for a 1969 supermarket bombing that killed two people.
As such, Odeh was convicted of unlawful procurement of naturalization, said Ron Hansen, a spokesman for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Odeh faces 10 years in prison and would lose her US citizenship.
Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center said on Wednesday that over the course of the case, Odeh had originally tried to claim mistaken identity and that the terrorism charges did not relate to her.
In trying to defang her defense, the NGO said that the US attorney’s office ran into heavy red tape trying to get the IDF Archives Division to supply it, in timely fashion, with documents proving Odeh’s identity and conviction, in Israel’s Judea and Samaria courts, for her hand in the bombing.
Using its own connections, Shurat Hadin was able to get the relevant documents, many of which were authenticated for use by the US Attorney by IDF Lod Court Judge Lt.-Col. Leora Rubinstein on September 30, 2014.
The documents included items ranging from Odeh signing a power of attorney for representation in the case to a variety of statements made by Odeh in the case.
The US Attorney’s Office was contacted for comment but had not responded by press time.
Odeh also had reportedly hoped to claim that the Israeli court decision was flawed, as she had been tortured into confessing to the crime she was convicted for, but the court refused to allow her to make the claim, since the issue was the factual question of whether she had been convicted and lied about it, not whether the conviction was just.
Supporters for Odeh rallied on her behalf outside the federal courthouse. They say she has been unfairly targeted by the US government for her views on Israel.
Odeh has lived almost two decades in the United States and served as associate director of a Chicago-area community organization called the Arab American Action Network.
Federal prosecutors said she failed to reveal her criminal history when she immigrated to the US from Jordan in 1995 and again when she was naturalized as a US citizen in 2004.
Odeh and members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were convicted by an Israeli military court for the supermarket bombing and for placing a bomb at the British Consulate in Jerusalem.
Odeh’s attorneys could not be immediately reached for comment.
Reuters contributed to this report.