Alex Odeh, Arab-American Leader Killed in Santa Ana Bomb Blast 25 Years Ago, Remembered With $1 Million Reward
It’s been 25 years since Alex Odeh was killed by a bombing at his Santa Ana office.
The FBI marked the anniversary by announcing it has not dropped its investigation of the incident and that a reward of up to $1 million has been offered for information that leads to the apprehension of whoever was responsible for killing the West Coast regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Here’s the bureau’s short announcement:
This week marked 25 years since the murder of Alexander Odeh in Orange County, California. Odeh was the Western Regional Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The FBI’s investigation in Los Angeles is continuing, and a reward of up to $1 million dollars is being offered in exchange for information leading to the conviction of the person/s responsible.
Odeh, who was born to a Palestinian Christian family on the West Bank, immigrated to the U.S. in 1972. The lecturer and poet appeared on Nightline Oct. 10, 1985, to say Yassir Arafat was a man of peace and that Odeh did not believe the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader was involved in the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking that had just ended, but not before claiming the life of Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer.
Before heading over to speak at Friday prayer services the next day at a Fountain Valley synagogue, Odeh stopped by his office at 1905 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, opened the door and was killed in the bomb blast.
“I have no tears for Mr. Odeh,” Jewish Defense League (JDL) chairman Irv Rubin said at the time. “He got exactly what he deserved. . . . My tears were dried up after crying for Leon Klinghoffer.”
The FBI, which immediately suspected the JDL of being behind the Odeh bombing, later classified it as a terrorist act. Rochelle and Robert Manning were prime suspects in a mail bombing that killed Patricia Wilkerson in Manhattan Beach in 1988. She was arrested, but he fled to Israel–and was identified as a suspect in the Odeh bombing. After Rochelle Manning’s jury deadlocked, she joined her husband in Israel. He was extradited from Israel to the U.S. in 1993 and later sentenced to life in the Wilkerson bombing.
The Alex Odeh Memorial Statue, created by Algerian-American sculptor Khalil Bendib, went up in front of the Santa Ana Central Library on Civic Center Drive over JDL protests in 1994. Vandals routinely defaced it on the anniversaries of Odeh’s death. “I think the guy is a war criminal,” Rubin said as explanation.
Many people likely pass the statue today without knowing it depicts Odeh. At least the defacing has stopped.
It was around the time Rubin was defending the vandalism that he started coming to Mission Viejo to get in the face of white supremacists who frequented South Orange County Community College District meetings to support then-trustee and Holocaust minimizer Steven Frogue. The JDL leader was later imprisoned for plots to blow up a Muslim mosque and Arab-American congressman’s office in Southern California.
He is believed to have told Earl Krugel, who was incarcerated on the same charges, the identities of the participants in the Odeh office bombing. Krugel likely informed the FBI. Many suspect Manning and two others living is Israel of being Odeh’s killers.
Rubin died in prison of what officials said was a fall in 2002. Family members don’t buy the explanation.