Convicted terrorist admits she lied to become US citizen

Rasmieh Odeh has been a community organizer with the Arab American Action Network in Chicago.

Story highlights

  • Rasmieh Odeh, now 69, was found guilty by Israel in 1970 for her role in two bombings
  • She eventually became a US citizen and will now be deported

(CNN)A Chicago-area resident who participated in two terror attacks in Israel in 1969 pleaded guilty Tuesday to having illegally obtained her American citizenship.

Rasmieh Odeh, 69, entered her plea Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Detroit, admitting she had been convicted in Israeli court in 1970 for her role in two bombings, and that she had willingly omitted that information from her US citizenship application.
"The United States will never be a safe haven for individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts," Steve Francis, Homeland Security Investigations' special agent in charge for Detroit, said in a statement released Tuesday. "When individuals lie on immigration documents, the system is severely undermined, and the security of our nation is put at risk."
    A court employee present at the hearing told CNN that Odeh was tearing up and had a hard time verbalizing the guilty plea. She eventually held up the signing document, the court employee said, and said that it was true, she signed it.
    Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli military court in 1970 in connection with two bombs planted the previous year in Jerusalem by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, according to court documents. One bomb killed two people at a supermarket. The other damaged the British Consulate in Jerusalem, but caused no injuries.
    Odeh, a Jordanian national, was later released from Israeli prison in 1979 as part of a prisoner transfer.
    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was added to the US State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations in 1997.
    Odeh came to the United States on an immigrant visa in 1994, according to court documents, and obtained her citizenship 10 years later in 2004.
    In her citizenship application and a subsequent interview with an immigration officer, Odeh repeatedly stated she had no criminal history and attested she had never been a member of a terrorist organization.
    Tuesday was not the first time judgment was passed on Odeh's citizenship filing. In 2014, a jury found her guilty of unlawful procurement of naturalization. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison. On appeal, however, the 6th Circuit Court ordered a new trial, stating that the district court wrongly rejected a defense witness expected to speak to Odeh's claims that torture in prison left her with PTSD.
    Odeh came to court with dozens of supporters Tuesday, the court employee told CNN.
    Court documents state that Odeh is a community organizer with the Arab American Action Network. The group, a Chicago-area nonprofit, lists Odeh as an associate director on its website.
    Per an agreement with prosecutors, Odeh will serve no additional jail time in return for her guilty plea. According to the Department of Justice, Odeh is expected to be deported to Jordan after an August 17 sentencing hearing.
    Calls to Odeh's attorney, Mike Deutsch, were not immediately returned on Tuesday