Normally, Sunday is game time for National Football League (NFL) players, but since the Texans’ Week 5 game against the Indianapolis Colts was played on Thursday, October 8th, the upcoming Sunday was an open date. Oday Aboushi, Offensive Lineman for the Texans, used the opening to take to Twitter. What he tweeted would soon become a matter of huge controversy.
On Sunday, October 11th, Aboushi retweeted a tweet that was made the same day by a personal friend of his, Linda Sarsour, the Executive Director of the Arab-American Association of New York. It was a photo of a Palestinian toddler holding a good-sized rock in each hand, walking towards Israeli soldiers. The message Sarsour wrote above the picture, which Aboushi also tweeted, was “The definition of courage. Palestine.”
Sarsour’s post drew the ire of Democrat Councilman of Queens, New York, Rory Lancman. Lancman answered Sarsour’s tweet with one of his own, writing “No, the definition of barbarism.” He then sent a message addressed directly to Sarsour, stating “You must be especially proud of the 13-yr-old Palestinian who stabbed the 13-yr-old Israeli. Barbarism,” and Lancman added a link to the story.
Councilman Lancman’s messages were understandable, given the violence that is currently taking place in Israel. Young Palestinians, at the behest of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), have been targeting Jews with death, via stabbings and shootings. Calls for a Third Intifada (uprising) have been ringing out. Sarsour and Aboushi’s tweets do zero to calm the situation. Indeed, they can only lead to more violence and deaths – and on both sides.
However, for people like Linda Sarsour and Oday Aboushi, death is justified and glorified, as long as it does harm to Israel. And lies are justified, as well.
This past February, Aboushi tweeted the following: “Hundreds of Palestinians flee floods in Gaza as Israel opens dams. Enough of the torture. We will persevere. Shame on u.”
If this really did happen, Aboushi would have had an issue, but in truth it was 100% made up – fabricated entirely for the purpose of creating a public relations disaster for Israel. And in part, it worked, as a number of media outlets repeated the lie. But as the AFP news service rightly stated, “[N]o such dam exists in Israel that could control the flow of water into Gaza…”
Aboushi’s callousness towards life and his bigoted disregard for the truth should elicit a concerned reaction from the NFL and his team, but his involvement with a terrorist organization should have him not only out of the NFL, but shunned from society.
In May 2013, Aboushi attended the ICNA-MAS 38th Annual Convention, held in Hartford, Connecticut. A photo of him posing with event participants at the convention is presently found on the ICNA Facebook site.
ICNA or the Islamic Circle of North America is the US affiliate of South Asian Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. Jamaat-e-Islami’s militant wing, Hizbul Mujahideen, owned the Pakistani compound where Osama bin Laden was killed. ICNA has been linked to terrorist financing and has used the web to promote different terrorist groups, including Hamas, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban.
For a number of years now, ICNA has partnered with the Muslim American Society (MAS) for its annual events. In November 2014, the government of United Arab Emirates (UAE), formally labeled MAS and quite a few other groups, including ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, terrorist organizations. MAS has used the web to propagate materials calling for violence in the name of Islam, praising Hamas, denouncing Christians, and calling for the murder of Jews and others.
Some very controversial individuals participated at the 2013 ICNA-MAS convention. One was Siraj Wahhaj, the imam of the Brooklyn, New York-based At-Taqwa Mosque, who, in 1995, was named by the US government an “unindicted co-conspirator” for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj had been linked to the bombmaker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El. Another speaker was Jamal Badawi, who was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in two federal Hamas financing trials and whose book, Gender Equity in Islam, justifies wife beating.
In February 2014, Aboushi not only attended a MAS event, but he was the featured speaker at it. The title of his speech was ‘The Easy Way vs the Right Way,’ and it took place at the MAS youth center in Brooklyn, where Aboushi was born and raised.
According to a MAS advertisement of the event, which contains a large banner of Aboushi in his former team uniform, Aboushi was to discuss “the real issues in our community and how to tackle them,” including issues related to drugs. How ironic that Aboushi would later, in August 2015, be suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on use of illegal substances, while he was with the Jets.
What is not ironic, though, is that someone with his views – someone who glorifies children engaging in violent acts, someone who spreads bigoted lies only to poison the minds of others and provoke incitement – would have involvement with terror-related groups like ICNA and MAS.
This is the third year of Oday Aboushi’s football career, and the NFL and Houston Texans must decide if they are going to continue to ignore his radical off-the-field behavior beyond suspending him one game for smoking marijuana. His actions are unbecoming of and antithetical to the values of the NFL, and if the NFL refuses to address this issue, it can only be viewed as a tacit endorsement of bigotry, terror and violence.
If you wish to discuss this information, you can contact Brian McCarthy (NFL Press Contact) by calling 212-450-2069 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Kevin Cooper (Houston Texans Communications Director) by calling 832-667-2035 or e-mailing email@example.com. Please be respectful with any and all communications with these individuals and the organizations they represent.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.