The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Jewish Voice for Peace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee are among the civil rights groups pressing the U.S. Justice Department to renew the investigation into Palestinian-American civil rights leader Alex Odeh's 1985 assassination by bomb blast in Santa Ana.
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An online petition the groups launched seeking support for opening the probe has received 10,000 signatures.
“Whenever a leader for a civil rights organization is killed, it is the responsibility of our country as a whole–and a civil rights community as a whole–to stand up and demand that their killers be brought to justice and to ensure that the U.S. Department of Justice does everything in its power to close the case,” NAACP President Ben Jealous told reporters in a conference call Monday (via the Associated Press).
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) in June sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for a renewed probe, and she has since urged her fellow lawmakers to sign on. One of them, Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), said Monday he wants the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations to convene a hearing on the bombing.
“We're going to pursue it vigorously and we're not going to let any more time lapse,” Conyers said (also via AP). “We're going to continue to help all of the organizations that are involved build up more and more support for us getting to where we ought to be in terms of a horrific, violent crime that has, I think, been put on the back burner for far too long.”
Odeh, a Palestinian-American poet, lecturer and West Coast regional director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said on a television news program the morning of Oct. 11, 1985, that Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yassir Arafat was a “man of peace” because of his role in securing the release of passengers from the hijacked Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in Egypt, where Jewish American passenger Leon Klinghoffer had been killed.
Later stopping by his office at 1905 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, to pick something up, Odeh opened the door and an explosion went off, killing him and injuring seven others. At the time, the FBI said they believed the bombing was the responsibility of the militant Jewish Defense League, something the group's attorney denied.
In 2010, the FBI described Odeh's killing in an agency news blog as “an active, ongoing priority investigation” and noted a $1 million reward had been offered for his killers.