October, 11 2016 – Today marks the 31st Anniversary of the terrorist attack in Santa Ana, California, which killed Mr. Alex Odeh, who at the time was serving at the West Coast Regional Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Mr. Odeh was killed when a powerful pipe bomb exploded as he unlocked and opened the door of the ADC office. In addition to killing Alex Odeh, the act of terrorism injured several other victims.
Mr. Odeh dedicated his life to ADC and social justice; he joined the organization in 1982. Mr. Odeh was at the forefront of combatting the stereotyping of Arabs and biased Middle Eastern reporting in the media. Mr. Odeh’s dedication brought ADC into the forefront as a civil rights organization by 1983, only three years since our founding in 1980. Mr. Odeh fought tirelessly to build inter-faith unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians in Southern California. On the day of his assassination he was scheduled to give a speech at Congregation B’nai Tzadek, a Jewish synagogue in Fountain Valley.
Prior to Mr. Odeh’s assassination he was subjected to numerous hate-motivated threats to his life and safety because of his advocacy for Arab and Palestinian-American rights. An exemplary civil rights activist, he was dynamic and he never let the threats deter him from his work for society.
Following Mr. Odeh’s assassination in 1985 the FBI classified the bombing as an act of domestic terrorism and designated the investigation into the case as the highest national priority. However, despite solid leads, advancements in technology and forensics which should have aided in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators, no arrest has been made.
The FBI’s case into Mr. Odeh’s murder remains open, with a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to an arrest and conviction. However, no arrest has yet been made in spite of the fact that press reports have stated over the years that the FBI identified members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) as suspects. None of the identified JDL individuals have ever been charged or prosecuted in connection with the murder. ADC and the Odeh family are regularly updated by the FBI about the status of the on-going investigation. ADC welcomes the on-going commitment by the FBI, and commends the bureau on continuing making this case a top priority.
One of the prime suspects in the case, Robert Manning, is currently in prison for the murder of Ms. Patricia Wilkerson, 32, a secretary at the Prowest Computer Corp. Ms. Wilkerson was killed by a mail-bomb in 1980. Ms. Wilkerson, a Manhattan Beach secretary opened a booby-trapped package on which fingerprints of Manning and his wife Rochelle subsequently were identified. Manning was extradited to the U.S. from Israel to face murder charges in the Wilkerson case. Although not confirmed by the U.S. Government, it is believed that the extradition agreement between the U.S. and Israel stipulated that Manning cannot be charged in the murder of Mr. Odeh.
Later this week Manning will have a parole hearing, and if granted he will be a free man. Further Manning has made a request to be transferred to Israel. ADC along with the Odeh family has vehemently opposed the granting of parole and his transfer request. Removing Manning to Israel will adversely impact the ongoing murder investigation of Alex Odeh. Over the course of the past year ADC and the Odeh family have submitted victim statements opposing both the hearing and transfer.
ADC continues to reinforce its demand that those responsible for his murder be brought to justice. ADC continues to call on the Department of Justice to take immediate action and bring the killers of Mr. Odeh to justice. ADC also calls on our members and supporters to use #Justice4AlexOdeh and encourage the FBI to bring his killers to justice.
Mr. Odeh left behind a widow and three daughters. His family members, and close friends, are available to discuss the attack and the lasting impact it has had on their lives.