A former Illinois Obamacare navigator discovered to have been a convicted terrorist may now plead guilty over failing to tell immigration officers about her conviction when she moved to the U.S.
Rasmieh Yousef Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court in 1970 after she and her accomplices with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist group, placed multiple bombs in Jerusalem on Feb. 21, 1969 which killed two college students doing their grocery shopping.
“We are engaging in serious negotiations, which could lead to a guilty plea,” her attorney William Swor told the Associated Press on Saturday, adding that Odeh will likely have to leave the U.S. if she goes ahead with that plea.
Muslim and Arab American advocacy groups have spoken out strongly in Odeh’s defense, accusing the government of selectively prosecuting Palestinian activists and of “criminalizing” immigrants.
The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has scheduled a meeting on Monday in her support headlined “Criminalizing Immigrants: The Case of Rasmea Odeh” in which plans are to discuss “the selective prosecution of key activists in the Palestinian and anti-war solidarity communities.”
In recent years, Odeh has been an Arab-American community activist with the Arab American Action Network in Chicago.
The director of that organization, Hatem Abudayyeh, in October called her “a stalwart, an icon.”
CAIR-Chicago noted that Odeh earlier this year received the “Outstanding Community Leader Award” from the Chicago Cultural Alliance.
The National Review in February reported that the Illinois Department of Insurance last November “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 state’s insurance department said that the pulling of her credentials 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.”
Odeh was released after serving 10 years of her life sentence as part of an Israeli prisoner exchange, after which she moved to the West Bank. Later, she immigrated to the U.S. in 1995 and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2004.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern Division in Michigan said in October that when she filed her immigration papers, “Odeh omitted her arrest, conviction, and imprisonment overseas, which were material facts for the United States government in determining whether to grant her citizenship.”
If convicted, Odeh could be stripped of her citizenship and face 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.
A hearing is scheduled this Wednesday in court, according to the AP.