Another Terrorist Icon

This is a reflection on the Colleyville, Texas synagogue hostage-taking incident from our colleague Prof. Steven Lubet of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.  Beneath it is a video recording of Rabbi Angela Buchdahl’s reaction to this event, a drama she was personally dragged into via two phone calls from the hostage taker 

I have an essay on The Hill [publication] about the similarity between Rasmea Odeh and Aafia Siddiqui. Here is the gist:

Another terrorist icon becomes a cause célèbre

By Steven Lubet, Opinion Contributor — 01/26/22 10:00 AM EST

When Malik Faisal Akram took four hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, he was not the first terrorist to seek the release of Aafia Siddiqui from her 86-year sentence in a federal penitentiary. Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani neuroscientist, became a cause célèbre among militants worldwide following her 2010 conviction for shooting at American military personnel in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri demanded Siddiqui’s freedom in exchange for a kidnapped USAID worker, as did ISIS in exchange for American journalist James Foley, who was later beheaded. The Taliban made multiple attempts to trade British and Swiss prisoners for her.

Siddiqui is not the only terrorists’ icon whose cause has been adopted by American progressives.

As I detail in my new book, “The Trials of Rasmea Odeh: How a Palestinian Guerrilla Gained and Lost U.S. Citizenship,” Odeh made her way to the United States in 1995, becoming a naturalized citizen in 2004.

Odeh’s murder conviction should have barred her from citizenship, or even entering the U.S., but she lied about it on her visa and naturalization applications. She answered “No” to numerous questions on both forms about past crimes, convictions and imprisonment, as well as at an in-person interview, while successfully concealing her membership in the PFLP. Odeh might well have continued living peacefully and productively in Chicago, had her criminal background not been coincidently discovered during an FBI investigation of one of her coworkers.

But neither Siddiqui nor Odeh ever sought forgiveness, opting instead to indulge anti-Jewish conspiracy theories as the source of their troubles. Siddiqui frequently interrupted her trial with anti-Semitic outbursts, demanding genetic tests to see if any jurors were Jewish. At sentencing, she shouted “This verdict is coming from Israel, not America.”

Odeh’s defense committee posed its own conspiracy theory about the enforcement of U.S. immigration law, charging the prosecutors with “doing the bidding of Israel.” Her attorney, from Chicago’s legendary Peoples Law Office, was only somewhat more circumspect, repeatedly arguing without evidence that the case, initiated and pursued by the Obama administration, was “politically motivated [by] prejudice against Muslim people fueled by the Israeli lobby.”

Colleyville’s Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said that Akram likewise “thought that Jews control the world,” which evidently led him to believe that attacking a small suburban synagogue could force freedom for Siddiqui. Perhaps that was because he’d heard so many tales of Israel’s sinister power over America, spread by those with scant regard for Jewish lives.

You can read the entire piece here.

[TTN Editor’s note: Why would this New York Reform rabbi be seemingly chosen at random to be contacted by the hostage taker out in Texas?  Probably because she’s the senior rabbi at a house of worship called “Central Synagogue” and with this person believing that Jews are all-powerful, he thought she’s strategically placed in Jewish leadership to force the US government to comply with his demand to release the convicted al Qaeda fighter Aafia Siddiqui from her Texas prison cell.]