By Joe Kaufman
The media, the NFL and the New York Jets organization can no longer overlook the problem that is Jets player Oday Aboushi. People can argue that he has the right to have pride in his family’s heritage or even that he has the right to voice his opinion against Israel, albeit in a town that has a huge Jewish population. But it is quite another thing for those to look the other way if Aboushi chooses to speak in front of a group labeled terrorist, which is exactly what he did earlier this year, when he delivered a speech to the Muslim American Society (MAS).
Since coming to the New York Jets as a fifth round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Oday Aboushi has been very public in his stance against the nation of Israel. On a number of occasions, he has used social media to demean and denounce the Jewish state.
His latest set of infractions happened this past July, when Israel’s military entered Gaza in response to thousands of rockets being fired into Israel by Hamas. Aboushi took the opportunity to bash Israel on Twitter. One of his messages could not have been clearer: “#SHAMEONYOUISRAEL.”
There are over two million Jews who live in New York and New Jersey, the locations of the majority of Jets fans. Yet, the NFL, the Jets and the media have all stood by Aboushi, whitewashing his actions as if he is merely exhibiting pride in his Palestinian heritage.
Indeed, when this author pointed out in a previous article that Aboushi had spoken at a conference sponsored by the El-Bireh Palestine Society, a group that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, whose 2013 conference Facebook site contained numerous photos of Adolf Hitler and Hamas leaders, it was not Aboushi who was attacked by the media, but it was instead this author and anyone else who appeared to voice concerns based on my information.
When Jonathan Mael, then-new media coordinator for Major League Baseball’s official website, MLB.com, compared Aboushi to New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, who had just been charged with murder, stating in a tweet that the Jets were “a disgrace of an organization,” there were calls for Mael’s firing. And those calls appear to have been successful.
Aboushi’s speaking in front of the bigoted El-Bireh Society, though, seems to have only been a prelude to his being featured at something far worse, as he has now spoken in front of a group that would soon be designated as a terrorist organization.
On the night of February 7, 2014, Oday Aboushi was the featured speaker at an event hosted by the Muslim American Society (MAS), at the group’s youth center in Brooklyn, New York. The title of his speech was ‘The Easy Way vs the Right Way,’ and it was promoted by MAS on social media.
On November 15, it was widely reported that MAS was named a terrorist organization by United Arab Emirates (UAE), on a list that included al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram. This was a fitting designation, as the links to terror from MAS are many and varied.
MAS was founded in 1993 by a group of individuals from the Muslim Brotherhood, which included the future global head of the Brotherhood (2004 – 2010), Mohammed Mahdi Akef.
In the recent past, MAS has used its official websites to praise Hamas and to call for violence upon and/or denigrate Jews, Christians, homosexuals and women.
The current National Executive Director of MAS is Mazen Mokhtar. From 1992 through 1996, Mokhtar made numerous statements on the internet in support of Hamas and suicide bombings. Prior to the September 11 attacks, Mokhtar served as a web designer for what was then the main website raising funds and recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Qoqaz.net. The site was a project of Azzam Publications, an organization named for Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam. In April 2007, Mokhtar was arrested for tax fraud.
The fact that Aboushi made his speech at a “youth center” does not lessen the harmful nature of his event, as MAS Youth facilities have been and remain havens for extremist activity. One must note that, prior to becoming the National Executive Director of MAS, Mazen Mokhtar served as the Youth Director of MAS-New Jersey and has been a featured speaker at a number of MAS Youth camps and children’s retreats.
The Youth Coordinator at MAS Youth Center, where Aboushi spoke, is Amal Hussain. According to Facebook, Hussain was an attendee at Aboushi’s speech.
The very first posting on Hussain’s personal Facebook page was an announcement for a speech that was to be given by Siraj Wahhaj, the imam of the radical At-Taqwa Mosque, located in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn. Hussain used the announcement as her Facebook cover photo.
In 1995, Wahhaj was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” for the federal trial prosecuting those involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj had been linked to the bombmaker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial Wahhaj was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the attack – the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman – whom Wahhaj has openly praised.
On November 30, Amal Hussain posted a photo of Egyptian prisoner Mohamed Soltan on her Facebook site, along with the following statement above it: “[Hosni] Mubarak walks away freely while Soltan is still ‘unjustly’ detained.” Soltan is awaiting trial for charges of funding a terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit violent acts. Soltan’s father, Salah Soltan, is a high-ranking official in the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohamed’s father is also a former leader of MAS.
Salah Soltan is the founder and former President of the MAS-run Islamic American University (IAU), which is based in Southfield, Michigan. The former Chairman of IAU is the current spiritual leader of the international Muslim Brotherthood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) refers to al-Qaradawi as “Theologian of Terror,” and about Salah Soltan, the ADL states that, in June 2013, Salah delivered a sermon labeling Jews “the enemies of God… the cursed ones.”
Prior to going to jail, Mohamed Soltan tweeted a photo of himself together with his father and al-Qaradawi, at what he claimed was al-Qaradawi’s house. He also tweeted support for Hamas.
The day after his speech to MAS, Oday Aboushi tweeted a thank-you note to the group. He stated, “Thank you @MASYouthCenter for having me last night. Being available for our youth is the biggest hand we can lend in times of need.”
Question: Just how far is Oday Aboushi willing to go to lend a hand to a designated terrorist organization? And how far does he have to go before the NFL, the Jets and the media end their relationship with and their support for him?
As a professional football player, Oday Aboushi is considered by many to be a role model for kids, but what kind of role model legitimizes bigotry and terror?
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.