The 1985 bombing death of Alex M. Odeh in Santa Ana has taken on international proportions.
The FBI told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee last Wednesday that the investigation of Odeh's murder "extends beyond the boundaries of the United States." The FBI also said that "Jewish extremist elements" are suspected in Odeh's death.
Odeh was the West Coast director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He was killed on Oct. 11, 1985, when he entered the committee's headquarters in a Santa Ana office building. A bomb had been set to explode when the office door opened. Seven others working in adjacent offices suffered minor injuries in the blast.
The FBI statement last Wednesday was its first public discussion of progress in the case.
Oliver B. Revell, assistant executive FBI director, told the House judiciary subcommittee, "We have suspects in this case, and we are pursuing these suspects." But he added that "we at this time have insufficient evidence to bring charges."
While Revell linked the bombing to "Jewish extremist elements," he refused to connect the terrorist action to the militant Jewish Defense League. He said the FBI could not prove that the suspects were acting on behalf of a particular organization.
Revell linked the Odeh killing to two other incidents--the Sept. 6 bombing of a house in Brentwood, N.Y., in which one person was injured, and the Aug. 15 bombing of a house in Paterson, N.J., which left a man dead.
The Brentwood house belonged to Elmars Sprogis, who the FBI said was "purportedly responsible for guarding Jews" at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
The New Jersey house was owned by Tscherim Soobzokov, who was identified as a Nazi war criminal in the book "Wanted: The Search for Nazis in America," by Howard Blum. Soobzokov died of injuries in the bombing.
During the subcommittee hearing Wednesday, the chairman, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), said discrimination against Americans of Arab descent is a "national tragedy."
Odeh's widow, Norma, said in a written statement to the subcommittee: "While our government apprehends terrorists halfway across the world, it seems helpless in the face of domestic terrorism directed against Arab-Americans."