Prosecutors Seeks Testimony of Rasmieh Odeh’s Co-Conspirators
Federal prosecutors want to travel to the Middle East to question two women who previously have acknowledged helping Rasmieh Odeh bomb a Jerusalem supermarket (and the British Consulate) in 1969. That supermarket bombing killed two college students, Leon Kanner and Edward Joffe.
Odeh failed to disclose her conviction for the bombing (which resulted in 10 years in an Israeli prison) when she applied for naturalization as an American citizen in 2004.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism examined Odeh’s terrorist history and the heroic treatment that she enjoys among Palestinian activists in a five-part video series, “Spinning a Terrorist Into a Victim.”
Odeh was convicted of naturalization fraud in 2014, but won a new trial after arguing that the US court improperly kept out testimony supporting her claim that her incorrect answers on immigration papers resulted from post-traumatic stress caused by torture while in Israeli custody.
That claim is unsubstantiated, but defense and prosecution psychologists who examined Odeh say that she does exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress.
Prosecutors responded with a superseding indictment, placing greater emphasis on Odeh’s membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which carried out the 1969 bombings. Membership in a terrorist organization, let alone a conviction for a terrorist act, is sufficient to deny immigrants a visa or to reject a naturalization application.
Aisha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh, in separate videos available online, both talked about helping Rasmieh Odeh in the 1969 bombings, prosecutors wrote in a motion filed on Tuesday. Aisha Odeh (who is not related to Rasmieh Odeh) admitted placing the supermarket bomb after scouting the store with Rasmieh. “Obideh made similar statements in another video,” the prosecution brief said.
The women “have uniquely relevant testimony,” prosecutors argued. But to get to them, the prosecutors need the court’s consent, and cooperation from the Palestinian Authority.
If the motion is granted, prosecutors and defense attorneys would travel abroad and then determine whether the statements should be shown to the jury.
The women’s testimony has added significance, prosecutors said, because of new Federal case law in the Sixth Circuit, which covers Detroit — the site of Odeh’s trial. In a ruling since Odeh’s 2014 trial, the Sixth Circuit ruled that a jury can consider factors such as “good moral character” and involvement in terrorism in naturalization fraud cases.
The Palestinian women “have highly material testimony because they have personal knowledge of the defendant’s involvement in terrorist activity and the defendant’s membership and association with a terrorist organization. These topics are directly relevant to the charges in the first superseding indictment,” prosecutors wrote.
The trial is scheduled to take place in mid-May. Tuesday was the deadline for pre-trial motions.
In other filings, prosecutors requested an anonymous jury and other measures meant to keep the jurors from being influenced by Odeh’s supporters, who will protest outside of court each day. The prosecutors also asked the court to bar the defense from claiming that Odeh is being subjected to a selective or “political” prosecution.
Defense attorneys asked that all the Israeli evidence showing Odeh’s connection to the 1969 terror attack be kept out of the trial, along with the US government’s designation of the PFLP as a terrorist group.