Skip to main content

WBEZ News

Palestinian Activist To Be Deported To Jordan From Chicago

A Chicago Palestinian activist with a decades-old record of bombings in Jerusalem will be deported to Jordan on Tuesday, her spokesman said.

Supporters and community activists plan to gather at O'Hare International Airport before Rasmea Odeh, 70, departs for Jordan, said Hatem Abudayyeh, coordinator of her defense committee.

Odeh pleaded guilty in April to concealing her convictions when she applied for U.S. citizenship in Detroit in 2004. Her record would have disqualified her from entering the U.S. a decade earlier.

In 1970, Odeh was convicted of two bombings in Jerusalem, including one that killed two young men at a supermarket. She insists she was tortured into confessing by the Israeli military. She was sentenced to life in prison but was released in 1979 as part of a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

With family in Michigan, she applied for a U.S. visa in 1994, but didn't disclose her criminal record. She also didn't disclose it when she applied for citizenship in 2004. Odeh was convicted of lying in 2014, but the verdict was overturned. She chose to make a deal with the government rather than face a second trial.

Odeh didn't serve any time in prison after pleading guilty, but she lost her citizenship and must leave the U.S.

In Chicago, Odeh was associate director of the Arab American Action Network, which provides social services and education. She is widely respected for her work with immigrants, especially Arab women.

"Technically she was a terrorist," U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain said in 2015. "But looking at Ms. Odeh's recent history, I'm convinced she's really been involved in a lot of good works."

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.

CLOSE X