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Document and Benefit Fraud
10/22/2013

Naturalized US citizen charged with immigration fraud for failing to disclose terrorism conviction

DETROIT — A naturalized U.S. citizen, who was convicted in Israel for participating in a terrorist bombing, was charged with immigration fraud following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Special agents with HSI and the FBI arrested Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 66, at a Chicago-area residence for unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship. She is currently in federal custody in Chicago.

The indictment also alleges that Odeh was convicted in Israel for her role in the 1969 bombings of a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem, which were carried out on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist organization.

According to court documents, Odeh and others placed multiple bombs at the British Consulate and in an area supermarket. One of the bombs placed at the supermarket detonated, killing two and injuring others. A bomb placed at the consulate caused structural damage to the facility. Odeh was sentenced by Israeli military authorities to life imprisonment, but was released after 10 years as part of a prisoner exchange, and returned to the West Bank.

The indictment alleges she immigrated to the United States in 1995 and became a naturalized citizen in 2004. In her immigration documents filed in the United States, the indictment alleges, Odeh omitted her arrest, conviction and imprisonment overseas, which were material facts for the U.S. government in determining whether to grant her citizenship.

"The United States will never be a safe haven for individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts," said William Hayes, acting special agent in charge for HSI Detroit. "When individuals lie on immigration documents, the system is severely undermined and the security of our nation is put at risk."

"An individual convicted of a terrorist bombing would not be admitted to the United States if that information was known at the time of arrival," said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. "Upon discovery that someone convicted of a terrorist attack is in the United States illegally, we will seek to use our criminal justice system to remove that individual."

If convicted of the charge, Odeh will be stripped of her U.S. citizenship. She also faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for naturalization fraud.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.