Oday Aboushi leads a double life. On the one hand, he is an American football player with professional-level athletic skills. On the other, he is a fundamentalist Muslim with radical associations and a heritage that pushes him towards a destructive world of violence and hate.
When the New York Jets football team chose Oday Aboushi with the eighth pick of the fifth round of the April 2013 NFL Draft (141st pick overall), the organization knew that it was getting an elite player who could wreak havoc on the field – one of the top offensive linemen in the entire draft. At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, no doubt, Abousi is an imposing figure. What the Jets didn’t know, though, was the type of havoc he could potentially cause off the field.
Although Aboushi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he proudly refers to himself as a “Palestinian-American.” His parents both arrived in the U.S. from the town of Beit Hanina in the West Bank. The first time he had been to the area was during his freshman year of college. In an article published by ESPN, the sports network stated about Aboushi’s trip, “It was a completely different world, although filled with the same kinds of people he knew growing up in Brooklyn.”
One long-time friend of the family is Linda Sarsour, a rabid anti-Israel activist, who has Hamas-related family serving prison sentences in Israel and has herself been questioned by U.S. authorities. Less than one year ago, Sarsour posted on her Twitter account, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.” In a May 2012 tweet, she claimed that the al-Qaeda “Underwear Bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who plotted to blow up a civilian aircraft, was actually a CIA operative.
When Aboushi was chosen by the Jets in the draft, Sarsour used that same Twitter account she placed her fanatic missives on to post two dozen messages about it, including Twitter conversations with Aboushi. She also tweeted photos of herself with Aboushi.
Sarsour holds the position of Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY). Oday Aboushi’s sister, Tahanie, who also uses Twitter to attack Israel, is a lawyer for the organization. Together with the Executive Director of CAIR-NY, Muneer Awad, Tahanie Aboushi condemned ads speaking out against Islamic jihad – ads which would soon be placed throughout New York City’s subway stations.
Awad, like Sarsour, is obsessed with Israel and has used Twitter to attack the Jewish state. He tweeted “GOP kissing Israel’s ass hurts Israel,” and condemned a speech made by President Barack Obama in praise of Israel as “racist and untrue.” For Awad to state such things makes sense, given the fact that the organization he works for, CAIR, has its roots with Hamas.
And like Sarsour, CAIR-NY went out of its way to praise the Jets drafting of Aboushi. The group called the signing “an American dream story.”
Far from being an American dream, Oday Aboushi has exhibited this exact type of extremism. He too has targeted Israel with his Twitter account, one tweet even having anti-Semitic overtones. This past January, he posted a photo depicting an old woman looking down while three clearly Orthodox Jews talk to each other in the background. The caption reads, “88 year-old Palestinian evicted from home in Jerusalem by Israel authorities to make room 4 Orthodox Jews.”
The photo contains the logo of Middle East Monitor (MEM), an anti-Zionist publication based in England. The picture has recently been used in a smear campaign against Israel and her observant Jewish citizens. Aboushi chose to be one of the smear merchants.
On April 19, one week before the NFL Draft, Aboushi wrote a tweet exalting a fundraising dinner sponsored by Islamic Relief (IR), an organization with numerous ties to terrorism. He wrote, “Beautiful NJ fundraiser event for the kids of Palestine in refugee camps.” The affair was held in Hasbrouk Heights, New Jersey and was titled, ‘A Night for Palestine.’
In May 2006, Israel labeled Islamic Relief a front for Hamas after arresting the group’s Gaza program manager, Ayaz Ali, for providing “funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations.” Ali admitted that he had cooperated with local Hamas operatives.
As well, in 1999, IR collected and sent more than $6 million to Chechen rebels with ties to al-Qaeda. The same year, IR received $50,000 from Human Concern International (HCI), a charity that the U.S. Department of Treasury described as a “Bin Laden front.” Shortly after the September 11 attacks, IR itself was investigated by the Treasury Department as a possible source of funding for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.”
Besides Twitter, Oday Aboushi also has a Facebook account. Currently in the ‘Likes’ section of his Facebook page is the imam of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley (ICTV), Mohamed Mabrouk. Mabrouk was previously the imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing (ISGL). Both of these mosques have ties to terrorism.
Last March, ICTV held a conference and banquet at the Anaheim Hilton, titled, ‘Muhammad (pbuh): The Prophet for Our Times.’ The event was co-sponsored by Islamic Relief. Among the speakers for the function was the imam of Brooklyn’s al-Taqwa mosque, Siraj Wahhaj. Wahhaj had previously been named by the U.S. government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for a trial dealing with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj had been linked to the bombmaker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial, he was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the attack, Omar Abdel Rahman, whom Wahhaj has openly praised.
According to the January 2006 ISGL Constitution, which is located on the official ISGL website, the ownership of the mosque property was “entrusted” to the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). And according to the ISGL website, ISGL is a subsidiary of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In 2007 and 2008, both NAIT and ISNA were named by the U.S. Justice Department as “unindicted co-conspirators” for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. ISNA, as well, was co-founded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian.
Oday Aboushi, himself, is an observant Muslim. While playing football for the University of Virginia, during the month of Ramadan, he would fast every day from sunrise to sunset. This bit of information has made its way into a number of articles written about Aboushi, in admiration for his commitment to his religion. But what cannot be praised or tolerated are the radical behavior and associations that Aboushi has embraced.
During one of his post-draft interviews, Aboushi mentioned how each of the teams interested in picking him sat him in a room and “grilled” him with questions for up to a quarter-of-an-hour. He said that these “formal meetings” were attended by all the team staff, including athletic director, head coach and owner.
At their meeting, either the Jets didn’t ask the right questions about Aboushi’s personal background and affiliations which might conflict or cause damage to the Jets’ image or Aboushi didn’t answer the questions honestly. The only other possibility is that the team only cares about Aboushi the exceptional athlete and nothing else.
In April 2009, the Jets front office contacted the NFL to ask that the date of its home opener be moved, as it was going to coincide with the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The team did the right thing to complain on behalf of their Jewish fan base, and they need to do the same in the case of their Islamist draft pick.
As of now, Aboushi’s name sits atop the Jets website roster. How long he will remain there is up to management.
Beila Rabinowitz, director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.