An Arab-American community activist charged with immigration fraud for hiding that she was once convicted of a terrorist bombing in Israel worked briefly as an Obamacare navigator in Illinois, according to a report from National Review Online.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern Division in Michigan announced in October that Rasmieh Yousef Odeh was accused of unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship after she hid that she “was convicted in Israel for her role in the 1969 bombings of a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem … carried out on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” a terrorist organization.
National Review reported that the Illinois Department of Insurance on Nov. 24 “quietly revoked” Odeh’s certification as an in-person navigator to help people sign up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. The insurance department said in a disciplinary report the decision was “based on an investigation which revealed that she had been convicted in Israel for her role in the bombings of a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem and failed to reveal the conviction on her application.”
According to an FBI background report for Odeh obtained by National Review, no past criminal offenses were cited. The Illinois Department of Insurance conducts background checks on navigators, National Review reported.
The U.S. attorney’s indictment in October said that Odeh and accomplices placed multiple bombs at the two sites on Feb. 21, 1969. One of the bombs exploded at the crowded supermarket, killing two students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and injuring 20. The British Consulate was damaged as a result of the attack.
Odeh was sentenced to life in prison in 1970 but was released after 10 years as part of an Israeli prisoner exchange, after which she moved to the West Bank.
According to the U.S. attorney, she immigrated to the U.S. in 1995 and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2004.
The indictment alleged that when she filed to immigrate to the U.S., “Odeh omitted her arrest, conviction, and imprisonment overseas, which were material facts for the United States government in determining whether to grant her citizenship,” the U.S. attorney’s statement said.
If convicted, Odeh could be stripped of her citizenship and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years.
National Review reported that the Department of Insurance discovered Odeh’s history only after the U.S. attorney’s announcement about her indictment. She has reportedly used as many as nine aliases.
Arab-American activists in Chicago expressed outrage at Odeh’s indictment last fall and viewed it as an attack on the community.
The Associated Press reported in October that Odeh was an associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago, a nonprofit that “advocates for new immigrants and tries to combat anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice.”
The group’s website said Odeh had worked as a lawyer and was focused on domestic-violence groups and women’s issues, the AP reported.
Organization director Hatem Abudayyeh told the AP in October, “She is a leader in the community — a stalwart, an icon.”
“It’s an escalation of attacks on our community,” he said. “We are very, very angry.”
At an October hearing in Detroit, Odeh pleaded not guilty as her supporters marched outside the courthouse holding signs that said, “stop anti-Arab racism.”