Remembering Alex Odeh: 35 Years Later, Still No Justice

Today, ADC and all Arab Americans once again commemorate a somber day. Thirty-five years ago, on October 11, 1985, Alex Odeh was assassinated when a pipe bomb exploded as he opened the door to the ADC West Coast office in Santa Ana, California, killing him shortly after. Alex is survived by his wife Norma, and their three daughters Helena, Samy and Susan.

Following Alex’s assassination in 1985, the FBI classified the bombing as an act of domestic terrorism and designated the investigation as one of the highest national priority. However, despite solid leads, as well as advancements in technology and forensics that could aid in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators, no arrest has been made.

Press reports over the years have stated that the FBI identified members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) as suspects. However, none of these JDL individuals have ever been charged or prosecuted in connection with Alex’s murder. Two of them reportedly currently live in an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

One of the primary suspects in the case, Robert Manning, is currently in prison for the 1980 mail bombing murder of Patricia Wilkerson, a secretary at the Prowest Computer Corp. in California. Manning, who fled to Israel after Alex’s murder, was extradited to the U.S. to face murder charges in the Wilkerson case. He is scheduled for a parole hearing in early November 2020. If granted parole, it is almost certain that Manning would elude justice in the Odeh case by fleeing back to Israel, where he would be welcomed by Jewish extremists. ADC will be present at Manning’s parole hearing, passionately arguing against his release.

We demand that the Department of Justice (DOJ) take action against those responsible for taking Alex from us. We will continue to reinforce this demand and maintain pressure on the DOJ and FBI to bring the murderers to justice.

Nearly four decades after the terrorist attack, we have still seen no arrests.  No one has been brought to justice for Alex’s murder. Despite strong evidence identifying multiple suspects, no arrests warrants have been issued, and no one has ever been officially charged. 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.

After joining the organization in 1982, Alex quickly rose to the forefront of combatting stereotyping of Arabs and biased reporting. He fought tirelessly to build unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians in southern California. On the day of his assassination, Alex was scheduled to give a speech at Congregation B’nai Tzadek, a Jewish synagogue in Fountain Valley.

Prior to his murder, Alex had already been the victim of numerous hate-filled threats to his life and safety simply because of his advocacy for Arab-American and Palestinian-American rights. An exemplary and dynamic civil rights activist, he never let the threats deter him from his important work.

Alex was born in the Palestinian village of Jifna in 1944. He was a firsthand witness to the dispossession and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people. In 1972, he brought those experiences to America.  Like thousands of his Palestinian Arab brethren, Alex used art to speak about the Palestinian struggle for human rights, once publishing a volume of poetry dedicated to that cause. Today, he continues to stand as a model of perseverance and dedication to all Arab Americans and Palestinian Americans.

Alex Odeh dedicated his life to ADC and social justice. He always fought for the truth. He gave his life for it. Today, we celebrate his life, his work and his legacy. 

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