Editor's Note: For greater detail on the Rasmieh Odeh case, her elevation to hero by Palestinian advocates and the impact on her victims, please watch the Investigative Project on Terrorism's five-part video series, “Spinning a Terrorist Into a Victim.”
She couldn't say the words. Three times U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain asked, “Are you pleading guilty or not guilty?” Each time, Rasmieh Odeh paused.
“I think to sign this [plea agreement], it makes me guilty,” she finally said. And with that, she begrudgingly ended a nearly four-year prosecution based upon her failure to disclose her arrest, conviction and imprisonment stemming from two 1969 terrorist bombings in Jerusalem when she applied to become an American citizen.
Odeh, 69, will be sentenced in August for naturalization fraud. A loss of her citizenship and deportation is guaranteed to be part of that sentence. A jury convicted Odeh in 2014, but she won a new trial in December after an appeals court ruled that testimony supporting her defense was improperly barred.
That defense was built around an unproven claim that Odeh suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought on by alleged torture while in Israeli custody. Her confession to the bombings came only after 25 days of torture, she claims. When immigration papers asked whether she ever had been arrested or convicted, the PTSD caused her to filter out that past, Odeh claims, and believe the question only applied to her time in the United States.
There were several problems with that theory. Records from her Israeli prosecution indicate she confessed within a day of her arrest. And the immigration official who interviewed Odeh as part of the naturalization process previously testified that she always …