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Jackson Says FBI Not Doing Enough To Find Killer of Arab-American

October 12, 1986

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ The Rev. Jesse Jackson has criticized the FBI investigation of the slaying of an Arab-American leader, saying on the anniversary of Alex Odeh’s death that not enough has been done to solve the crime.

″The government should leave no stone unturned,″ Jackson said before a memorial dinner Saturday night where an Arab-American group offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of Odeh’s killer.

Jackson said the government should work as hard to find those who killed Odeh as it did to punish the killers of Leon Klinghoffer, the elderly American slain during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro.

Odeh, 41, who spent much of his time countering negative Arab stereotypes by writing letters to publications and articles defending Arab-Americans, was killed by a bomb at his Santa Ana office.

The bombing came 12 hours after he complained in a TV interview that the media mistakenly blamed the Palestine Liberation Organization for the hijacking. He praised PLO leader Yassar Arafat for gaining the ship’s release.

″We get the impression the full weight of the law was not employed in the (Odeh) case,″ said Jackson, who called both slayings ″heinous crimes.″

″The same degree of vigor that was used in pursuing the terrorists who killed Klinghoffer must be used in pursuing the killers of Mr. Odeh,″ he said.

The sentiments were echoed by the group offering the reward.

″Arab-Americans are demanding justice,″ said Abdeen Jabara, national president of The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee.

The FBI, which initially said the Jewish Defense League was responsible for the bombing, now says evidence points to unidentified ″Jewish extremists.″

″It’s one thing to make an accusation and another to show proof,″ said Irv Rubin, a local JDL leader. ″It may have been Arabs who did it. There are factions of the PLO who can’t stomach Arafat.″

Some in the Arab community are bitter over the lack of results in the investigation, but Odeh’s successor, Samir Twair, said such views don’t represent those of the committee.

″We know (the FBI) worked at it, we just have to wait,″ he said.

Meanwhile, ″A lot of Jewish groups have come out and approached the Arab community to begin a dialogue toward greater understanding,″ said Nadia Bettendorf, a member of the anti-discrimination committee’s board of directors. ″They realize Alex had started that kind of work.″

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