An Evergreen Park woman who was charged with immigration fraud and arrested Tuesday, was the subject of a 2004 documentary made by a Palestinian filmmaker.
Federal agents took Ramieh Yousef Odeh, 66, a naturalized citizen, into custody at her home early Tuesday morning. According to the charges, Odeh allegedly hid her arrest, conviction and imprisonment in an Israeli prison when applying for U.S. citizenship.
The documentary recounts how each woman became an active member in the national fight for Palestinian independence “though their ‘crimes’ differed markedly – one woman was detained in a peaceful protest while another was arrested for her participation in a bombing,” a film synopsis said.
In 1969, Odeh was convicted of placing bombs in a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem. The bomb in the supermarket detonated, killing two people and injuring others. The second bomb caused structural damage to the consulate building, according to a federal indictment.
Odeh was convicted in an Israeli military court and sentenced to life in prison. During her incarceration, Odeh, as well as the film’s other female subjects, allege that they were beaten, tortured and raped into giving up information about Palestinian liberation groups.
Ten years after her sentence, Odeh and other detainees were part of an exchange for political prisoners in an agreement between the Israeli government and PLO. She was released and returned to the West Bank, federal authorities said.
Federal authorities said that Odeh immigrated to the United States in 1995, where she successfully applied for U.S. citizenship by omitting her terrorism background.
In 2004, when Odeh became a naturalized citizen, Khoury released her documentary Women In Struggle. The day of its release, Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike that gained international attention.
The film documentary was shown in various film festivals in
the United States and Europe.
Writer Sara Powell gave Women In Struggle a rave review in the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs.
“As the viewer gets to know ordinary Palestinian women, it becomes clear that it was the extraordinary circumstances of a brutal occupation that impelled them to act as they did. Perhaps the film’s quiet strength will elicit some understanding among ordinary American women and men who experience Khoury’s powerful documentary.”
While Odeh stands accused of hiding her terrorism conviction when applying for citizenship by the U.S. government, she maintained a high profile, participating in a movie and earning a law degree.