Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Conyers & Sanchez Write to Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte Requesting a Hearing into Unresolved Alex Odeh Case

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, requesting a hearing on the unresolved case of Alex Odeh, who was murdered in 1985. The U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice originally held a hearing on this matter in 1986.

The full text of this letter can be found below:

November 6, 2013

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Goodlatte,

We write to request a hearing to address the unresolved case of Alex Odeh, a human rights activist who was murdered in 1985. It has been 28 years since the Department of Justice launched an investigation to bring justice to Mr. Odeh, and his family and friends. This delay in justice is a terrible tragedy for our criminal justice system. The case was classified as an act of domestic terrorism and a high priority for the FBI by the Department, which is why we believe it is in the best interests of the country that it be resolved. The Judiciary Committee held the only hearing on this case in 1986,1 and has not had a hearing since.

Mr. Odeh was the Southern California Regional Director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) when, on October 11, 1985, he was killed as a pipe bomb exploded as he entered the ADC office in Santa Ana, California. There were several other people who were injured in the explosion and the building was severely damaged.2

Mr. Odeh, a husband and father of three, was a peace activist who worked to promote civil liberties for Arab-Americans in the U.S. and for civil and human rights around the world. He was also a published poet and a lecturer of Arabic language and Middle East history at Coastline College in Santa Ana. The night before his murder, Mr. Odeh appeared on a local TV station, despite his family’s concern for his safety, to discuss the Palestinian hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro.3

In a hearing on Mr. Odeh’s death in 1986, before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, FBI Assistant Executive Director Oliver Revell stated that his agency had designated the investigation into the bombing that killed Mr.Odeh as a highest national priority in 1985 and classified it as domestic terrorism.4 In the same year, the FBI directed all senior personnel to use whatever resources necessary to resolve Mr. Odeh’s case and develop a national strategy to prevent further violent crimes of this nature.5  In 1996, the case was still open and the FBI at that point posted a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators.6

We believe that a hearing is needed to bring swift resolution to this case. The 28 years that have gone by and the unanswered questions as to why this case has never been resolved are just a few examples of how justice has been delayed.  The friends, the family, and the legacy of Mr. Odeh deserve better, and we must ensure that our nation’s law enforcement pushes the investigation in this case forward. 


John Conyers, Jr.                                                                                   Loretta Sanchez
Ranking Member                                                                                  Member of Congress
Committee on the Judiciary

1.    Ethnically Motivated Violence Against Arab-AmericansHearing Before the H. Subcomm. on Criminal Justice, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 99th Cong. 65-880 (1986). (Hereafter “1986 Hearing”).
2.    Ed Pilkington, Renewed push to investigate Alex Odeh murder begins 28 years after bombingThe Guardian,Oct. 15, 2013, available at
3.    Id.
4.    1986 Hearing at p. 11.
5.    Id. FBI Director Revell described the suspected perpetrators in Mr. Odeh’s case to have “Jewish extremist elements.”  P. 11. At the time he declined to link those elements with the Jewish Defense League, which initially was suspected of being responsible for the bombing. P.11. Director Revell also made clear at that point that the FBI had identified key suspects, but could not reveal more as long as the individuals remained suspects because, “they are, or course, entitled to due process and have the same constitutional rights as anyone else.” P. 28.
6.    Wanted by the FBI, available at: The ADC asserts that some suspects have been identified, but have never been charged or prosecuted in connection with the murder.  SEE Press Release, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Organization Calls on FBI and State Department to Redouble Effort in Ongoing Investigation of 24 Year-old Terrorist Attack, (Oct. 11, 2009), available at

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