The FBI yesterday denied allegations that it had stopped investigating the murder of a director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and said the FBI has suspects in the case who belong to Jewish extremist groups.
Oliver B. Revell, assistant executive director of the FBI, declined to reveal the number of the suspects or the name of the groups they belong to, but said that some of them are from the California area, where Alex Odeh, the ADC southern California regional director, was murdered last October by a bomb trip-wired to the door of his office.
In testimony before the House subcommittee on criminal justice, Revell said the Odeh case is the FBI's top priority among cases of domestic terrorism.
According to the FBI's annual report on terrorist incidents and terrorist-related activities in the United States, four of the seven terrorist acts identified in 1985 were committed by Jewish extremist groups. Those groups were responsible for both of the deaths and nine of the 10 injuries inflicted in the 1985 terrorist incidents, according to the report.
The report's only comment about the identity of the groups is, "Although certain evidence leads to suspicion of elements of the JDL Jewish Defense League , final attribution to any one specific group must await further investigation." The JDL, organized by Rabbi Meir Kahane, is one of the most active anti-Arab groups in the country.
Revell disputed a Jan. 7 Secret Service memorandum, obtained by The National Alliance newspaper, in which a Los Angeles-based Secret Service agent wrote about the Odeh case. "The current investigation in Los Angeles by FBI has met with negative results and as of this date has failed to identify the perpetrators . . . ," the agent wrote. "FBI has suspended active investigation of the case due to lack of investigative leads."
Revell said the agent, who he did not identify by name, has since been subjected to "corrective measures," and that "what he probably meant" was that there was no clear evidence in the case to support criminal charges against any suspects.
According to Revell, the Secret Service is not involved in the Odeh investigation, and the agent who wrote the memo was a liaison officer between the FBI and the Secret Service.
Former senator James G. Abourezk, the founder and national chairman of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, testified at the hearing, attacking the Reagan administration for "creating an atmosphere in which attacks and discrimination against Arab Americans would be permissible."
"When president Reagan . . . says we have to root out terrorism wherever it is, but does not say a word about the Alex Odeh case, it sends a signal to others that it is okay to go ahead and do such things," Abourezk said.
Among other witnesses was Rema Simon, 23, a Massachusetts librarian of French and Lebanese descent. Simon was boarding a Delta flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Boston in May when airport security officials told her that the book she was reading, "Palestine Is, But Not in Jordan," had made a male passenger suspicious. She was asked to put her book away before boarding the plane, something she said was a clear case of discrimination. "I put the book away then, but never again."