10 Facts You Need to Know About Jibril Rajoub

Jibril Rajoub is the current head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the Palestinian Football Association. While much of the world uses sport as a tool to bridge divides and bring people together, Rajoub has manipulated the game to suit his own political motivations. These are ten facts you need to know about the man at the top of Palestinian sports: 

1) Jibril Rajoub's first arrest occurred in 1968 at age 15 by the Shin Bet security services and the IDF. He was arrested on the suspicion of helping Egyptian officers flee. After his release he joined Fatah.

2) In 1970, at the age of 17 Rajoub was sentenced to life in prison for throwing a grenade at an Israeli army vehicle near Hebron. Rajoub was released fifteen years later along with 1,150 Arab prisoners as part as part of an exchange deal for three Israeli hostages being held by the PFLP terror group. Another arrest followed in 1986 for terrorist activity, and he was imprisoned until March 1987.

3) He was deported to Lebanon in January 1988 and moved to Tunisia where he met with and served as an advisor to the Khalil al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, who served as commander of al-Assifa (the armed wing of Fatah). After Wazir's assassination, he worked as a lieutenant of Yasser Arafat. He is believed to be behind a 1992 plot to assassinate Israeli military and political leader Ariel Sharon.

4) In 2017, a Palestinian-American family filed a lawsuit against Rajoub, claiming that he tortured and murdered the family’s father Azzam Rahim in 1995. The autopsy report revealed bruises on Azzam Rahim’s head and face, broken teeth, a torn lip, and burn marks caused by cigarettes on his back and legs. The reason they waited so long to file suit was due to a law (The US Torture Act) requiring the accused to be on US soil in order have a lawsuit filed against them. Rajoub was not granted a visa to the US until 2017.

5) Rajoub is a member of the Palestinian organization Fatah who is the parent organization of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. The Brigade is a terrorist organization responsible for the 1972 murder of the Israeli Olympic team at the Munich games; an attack that Rajoub takes pride in.

6) In November 2015, Rajoub named a table-tennis tournament in honor of Muhannad Halabi, who murdered two civilians and wounded two others in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem a month prior. A poster advertising the tournament featured two images of Halabi; in large lettering it trumpeted the "patronage of the leader Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Olympic Committee.”

7) In June 2012, Rajoub claimed that it was racist to devote a ceremony to remembering the massacre of 11 Israelis by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. In a note written to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogges, Rajoub stated that "sports are a bridge for love ... and should not be used for divisiveness and the spread of racism."

8) Meanwhile, he put pressure on the Argentinian national football team to cancel their warm up game with Israel ahead of the 2018 World Cup because of his rejection of cooperation in sports. He even encouraged “burning Messi shirts if he played in Israel.”

9) In an interview with Palestinian Authority TV, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) he labeled Israel as "a fascist society", adding that "the racism of this fascist society is unparalleled throughout history." One parallel that Rajoub expressed was with Nazi Germany, claiming that Israelis were "the new Nazis", and that "Israel, (especially) the Israeli right wing, constitutes a replica of Hitler, Eichmann and Goebbels."

10) Towards the end of that same interview, Rajoub made the oft-repeated claim by Palestinian officials and their supporters that the establishment of the State of Israel was the result of Europe’s guilt over the Holocaust, intentionally ignoring the indigenous status and nearly 4,000 year-old ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. He is openly anti-Semitic and seeks to agitate the government of Israel.