Prosecutors seek testimony of Rasmea Odeh bombing co-conspirators
Currently in areas controlled by Palestinian Authority, for new immigration fraud trial scheduled May 2017.
Rasmea Odeh is rising to prominence in radical circles in the U.S.
In addition to injecting her anti-Israel activism into Black Lives Matter protests, which we previously covered, Rasmea is part of a group organizing a planned “national strike” of women in March 2017, to protest Donald Trump.
Rasmea also has been fully embraced by the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace, which has supported her for a long time and which is featuring her on a panel at JVP’s upcoming annual conference.
SuperSol Bombing 1969
Legal Insurrection readers will recall, however, that Rasmea is the military member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who was convicted in Israeli in 1970 of the 1969 bombing of the SuperSol supermarket in Jerusalem, and the attempted bombing of the British Consulate.
That supermarket bombing killed Israeli Hebrew University students Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner.
Rasmea claims she was not involved in the supermarket bombing, and was convicted only because she gave a false confession after 25 days of sexual torture.
Previously, we have explored the factual conflicts in Rasmea’s story, including that she confessed the day after arrest, not 25 days later; bomb-making material was found in her room; she received an open trial observed by a representative of the International Red Cross who described the trial as fair.
Ayesha Odeh – Co-Conspirator Talks About Rasmea Involvement
Rasmea’s co-conspirator, Ayesha Odeh (not related), described in a 2004 interview for a pro-Palestinian filmmaker how Rasmea was the mastermind behind the supermarket bombing.
Ayesha repeated that explanation in a 2013 appearance on Palestinian TV:
False Statements on Immigration and Naturalization Forms
After serving nearly a decade in prison, Rasmea was released in a prisoner release for an Israel soldier captured in Lebanon. While she was imprisoned, the PFLP formed the “Rasmea Odeh Brigade” to try to free her and others by taking hostages, and Rasmea was on the list of prisoners whose release was sought by the Black September terrorists who took Israeli athletes hostage (and killed them) at the 1972 Olympics.
Yet Rasmea claims she was not involved in terror organizations and was just an innocent political activist when arrested by the Israelis.
Rasmea eventually made her way to the U.S. in the mid-1990s. Rasmea gave false answers on her visa application, and in 2004 on her naturalization application, by denying (among other lies) that she EVER (bold and CAPS in original) was convicted or imprisoned.
Rasmieh was convicted of immigration fraud in November 2014.
The trial court ordered a new trial so that Rasmea could testify that she only confessed because of 25 days of torture which caused her to suffer PTSD. That PTSD, Rasmea’s expert will testify, caused Rasmea to “filter” the questions on the immigration forms such that “EVER” was understood by her to mean only since coming to the U.S. in the 1990s. Thus, Rasmea will argue, she did not “knowingly” give false answers, which is an element of the criminal offense.
In mid-December 2016, the government obtained a Superseding Indictment, which added additional bases upon which to convict Rasmea of the single Count of immigration fraud, including lying about membership in a terrorist organization.
On January 31, 2017, Rasmea filed a Motion to Dismiss Superseding Indictment (pdf.). The government has not yet responded.
The case is scheduled for re-trial in May 2017.
Motion To Depose Ayesha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh
February 14, 2017 was the deadline for pre-trial motions. The following motions were filed:
- Defendant Motion for Discovery Material (pdf.)
- Defendant Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence (pdf.)
- Prosecution Motion in Limine to Admit Evidence (pdf.)
- Prosecution Motion in Limine to Exclude Claim of Political Prosecution (pdf.)
- Prosecution Motion to Impanel Anonymous Jury (pdf.)
- Prosecution Motion to Depose Witnesses Abroad (pdf.)
In this post, I’ll only address the Motion to Depose Witnesses (full embed at bottom of post), and will address the motion to impanel an anonymous jury and to protect jurors from harassment by Rasmea supporters in a separate post.
The Motion to Depose Witnesses seeks the testimony not only of Ayesha Odeh (see videos above) but also a third co-conspirator:
3. In order to prove that the defendant was a member or associated with a terrorist organization, engaged in terrorist activity, and lacked good moral character, the government is seeking the testimony of Aisha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh, both of whom participated with the defendant in bombings in Israel in 1969. Aisha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh have appeared in video recordings over the years describing their roles in the bombings, as well as the defendant’s role. A portion of one of those videos, Women in Struggle, was admitted as a government exhibit during the defendant’s first trial, although that clip contained the words only of Defendant Rasmieh Odeh. During other portions of the video, Aisha Odeh freely admits that she placed the bomb at the super market. Aisha Odeh stated that Rasmieh Odeh and a third individual, Rasheda Obideh, had gone and studied the location in advance. Aisha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh made similar statements in another video, Tell Your Tale Little Bird.
The two witnesses are in “Palestine” according to the prosecution (politically interesting choice of terminology), in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority:
4. Given Aisha Odeh’s and Rasheda Obideh’s personal knowledge of the defendant’s role in the bombings, the government believes Aisha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh have uniquely relevant testimony. However, the government believes that Aisha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh live in Palestine and knows that they are not located in the United States, and therefore cannot be compelled to attend the trial of this matter. The government therefore intends to request that the Palestinian Authority compel Aisha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh to submit to a deposition in Palestine. The government has begun that process through the Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs, but in order for the process to continue, the government requests that the Court enter an order permitting the government to depose Aisha Odeh and Rasheda Obideh pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 15 if it is able to make arrangements for them to testify.
The motion and supporting brief go on to describe the legal bases for taking testimony to preserve evidence where the witness cannot be compelled to attend trial.
I was particularly interested in Rasheda Obideh’s involvement, since I’ve not seen a video of her. (I’m going to see if I can track it down and will add it if I find it.)Update – video excerpt added below, h/t reader Bob Knot.)
Rasheda’s name and involvement was mentioned in the original government sentencing memorandum after the first trial.
In its latest Brief the government explained Rasheda’s role and relevance:
Rasheda Obideh, the third individual, was not in Women in Struggle and was never arrested for her role in the offense. However, she appeared in another video, made in 1993, Tell Your Tale Little Bird. Rasheda Obideh discussed what she terms “the operation on the Supersol.”2 Obideh stated: “We were tempted to perform military attacks against occupants. That is why me and my friends Aisha and Rasmieh, the three of us participated in one operation.” Rasheda Obideh then states that she regrets “the operation” not because of its nature, i.e., attacking civilians, but because there was not enough preparation by the conspirators to make sure that others would carry on after them. Id. at 24:55-25:34. That segment is immediately followed by Aisha Odeh discussing “supersol and also the British Consulate in
Jerusalem,” followed by defendant Rasmieh Odeh stating “I was captured along with Aisha Ouda.” Id. at 25:34-25:47.
Depending whether, and when, these depositions take place, it will further help fill in the proof of Rasmea’s involvement in terrorist activities in general, and the murder of Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner at the SuperSol supermarket in particular.
Rasmieh Odeh Case – Prosecution Motion to Depose Witnesses Abroad (Feb 14, 2017) by Legal Insurrection on Scribd
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Amazing the waste of legal resources to reach the same result as before. Hopefully, her punishment will be increased.
Looks like somebody is suffering a very bad case of billable hours.
Or, depending on your viewpoint, a very good case.
But whichever, a very expensive case.
What are the odds that the PA will compel them to testify? Even if they do testify, what reason would they have not to perjure themselves? It’s not as if the PA would be likely to punish them for it, in fact it’s far more likely to punish them if they tell the truth. So why would they not lie? And therefore what’s the point in deposing them in the first place? What I worry about is that the defense will then enter their perjured depositions into evidence, with a false presumption of credibility.
The federal courts are seriously screwed up if they’re going to order a new trial on the basis that defendant “believed” that she only needed to answer the question of being convicted for a crime since coming to the United States. That’s not a reason to allow her to avoid deportation for lying about her conviction and 10 YEARS in an Israeli prison.
Um, actually it is. If she genuinely believed that she was answering the question truthfully then she committed no crime and her naturalization was valid, and therefore irrevocable. The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that she did not genuinely believe that. The same is true in any perjury case.
Of course it’s almost inconceivable that she did, which is why the jury didn’t believe her, but she wanted to present evidence (in the form of a so-called “expert witness”) that she claimed might convince the jury that this was at least a reasonable possibility, and the appeals court said the judge erred in excluding that evidence.
The new trial will add the charge that in addition to lying about her conviction, she also lied about actually having committed the crime itself. Last time around they didn’t want to get into that because they didn’t think they needed to, since they had her dead to rights on conviction so it didn’t matter whether she had been guilty. They didn’t want to open the door for her to say she didn’t really do it, her trial was unfair, etc., and then they’d have to prove she did it. But now that she’s going to be allowed to bring all that in anyway, in the course of explaining why she misunderstood the questions, there’s no downside in informing the jury exactly what she did and how strong the evidence against her really was, so they added this charge. Note however that she’s still not on trial for the murders but for knowingly lying about them.
Hors de cette salope.