New York bike cabbie Yousef al-Khattab is an American-born, Jewish-raised Jihadist.New York bike cabbie Yousef al-Khattab is an American-born, Jewish-raised Jihadist.
ISIAH SAMEDI, 18, FLATBUSH, BROOKLYN
What do you think about an American citizen walking around, being all pro-Jihad?
I believe they should be looked at closely by the police department and the FBI. After 9/11, you cannot take terrorism as a joke.
What do you think of the signs in airports that prohibit jokes about bombs, terrorism, and hijackings?
It is kind of funny to think that certain jokes are against the law but then again if you say there’s a bomb in your bag and then people start running, you’ll be at fault if someone gets hurt? He’s like a mini-Osama bin Laden.
But this guy is not killing anybody at all.
Yeah, but just because he isn’t doing it doesn’t make it better at all—him saying it.
Is this guy’s freedom of speech something you’d fight to maintain?
That right there would be contradictory to me because everyone does have freedom of speech, but when you say stuff like that—especially at this point of war—it’s not funny, it’s not good. If you take it as a joke, and then it happens, then what?
CHARLES JACKSON, 58-60, WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN
Should an American’s free speech be protected if he’s pro-Jihad?
People won’t like what I have to say, but here we go. While everyone has it, free speech means two things: you have to be careful and adult and understanding—or careful at your own level—at which free speech has been conquered in you as your family orientation and your schooling. Free speech doesn’t
You’re saying it shouldn’t be against the law to have someone publically announcing—
—Well, now, we usually have free speech but that’s more or less how adult you are how business you are how high up you are in the high ups. And you have to be careful the more power you have. You could hurt somebody.
TERRY “COYOTE” MURPHY, 47, HARRIMAN, ORANGE COUNTY, NEW YORK
One of our fellow New Yorkers wants us all to die for our anti-Jihad beliefs—how do you feel?
Well, because I love New York City, I would hate this guy a lot. I hate this whole Jihad wavelength.
Do you think an American who is pro-Jihad could still be a good person by normal American/Western standards?
I don’t believe so.
How long have you been growing your hair out and braiding it?
I’ve been trimming it, but I’ve had long hair since 1990.
Why did you decide to grow it out? I noticed you have a sort of Western stee’.
Well, all these years I had had short hair and some people mentioned how I should do my hair. They thought it would look pretty cool. It gets well received. I like the way it looks.
Does it ever draw some unwanted attention?
Oh, it certainly does.
Obviously you’re having fun with the white man’s idea of what a contemporary Indian looks like.
Yes, yes. I know the politically correct term would be “Native American,” but I’m perfectly OK if someone calls me Indian. I know other people in other tribes who feel differently. Most don’t like to be photographed, but I’ve been in a few films and some photo shoots and things.
I was in a film called Native New Yorker that won the Tribeca Best Documentary Short in 2006. It’s a silent film. I’ve never been in a feature, like really big films, but I’ve auditioned for speaking roles. I haven’t landed anything yet.
What is cigar shops’ big obsession with Indian Chief busts?
Tobacco is a sacred plant in a lot of different native tribes—but not all. Personally I’m allergic to it. I’ll do a ceremony with it sometimes out in the woods, though. A lot of times I’ll use herbs that I grown or find Upstate. That’s why I think they have all the Indians inside tobacco shops. I’ve noticed quite a few of them.
Does marijuana have any role in Indian history? You know, is there any truth to the peace pipe thing?
Marijuana is a Eurasian plant. There is a big misnomer that it had been growing in North America. There are other herbs that are smoked ceremoniously. There is Datura stramonium which is also called Jimson Weed. It’s in the Nightshade family and it is related to tomatoes and some dangerous narcotics.
You’ve really studied this stuff. Did you grow up in New York City?
I grew up Florida. I’m part Cherokee and part Irish. I didn’t grow up on a reservation; I grew up in a suburban area near Cape Canaveral. I’m glad I didn’t grow up tribally. There’s a lot of madness surrounding reservations, to tell you the truth. The Cherokees aren’t too bad but there are some tribes out West that have murders and stuff. Some get by on subsidies but I’m glad I don’t have to go around asking people for money.
Our homeland is originally from about where Atlanta is up into the mountains of north Georgia. In 1828 they discovered gold dust in the soil about 50 miles north of Atlanta and that changed everything. They had the whole Trail of Tears after that and they split our tribe up. The band I’m closely associated with were pushed into North Carolina, while the other followed the Trail to Oklahoma. We were pushed up into the mountains which was a hardship for us. Although that was a part of our backcountry for a long time, those mountains are hard to cultivate. The ground is sloped away from the sun. Historically we’re a very agricultural tribe who were made to become more like hunters.
How many times a week do you have to address these types of questions from strangers?
I don’t usually have somebody interview me. Maybe once or twice a week somebody will ask me something. I just finished a building maintenance job and I’m going to go to a photo shoot in a little while. I guess I’ll be in a brochure for a blue jean company.
What’s the most boneheaded question someone has asked you about being Indian? What really gets your goat?
It’s the [hollers, claps o-shaped mouth with hand]. What’s that called?
I aspire to do films and stuff so I’m OK with it. But young kids do whooping. Did the young kids actually watch old Western movies? I don’t think so. They’re probably distracted with the new computer stuff of today, so I guess their parents planted that seed in them.
Are there really Indians who whoop?
There are some tribes in the Midwest’s prairies that would use that as a war signal. Different tribes had different signals. Some were by sound, smoke, or hand signs.
Do you get typecast as a model/actor?
Oh, definitely. Usually as warriors or spiritual beings, like shamans or medicine people.
Does that get irritating?
I’m not against it but I would like them to push it forward and bring some new angles to it. For this reason I was encouraged by the Tribeca people to write. Writing is not a strong point of mine. Usually what happens is you have writers who write for all these big films, and they generally don’t write about people like me.
Why is that?
I think for a lack of imagination or for how much more stuff there is going on in the world, which has become so busy and fast these days. The whole Native/Indian thing has kind of fallen back into the past. I think the last time things were really good for Native actors was right after Dances with Wolves came out in 1990.
Why are you called “Coyote”?
Certain tribes are a little different but generally speaking, when you have something significant happen in your life, sometimes they will name you. Sometimes names change as you go through life. Something new will happen. In 1994 I rescued a huge coyote from a trap. He looked like a wolf and was four-foot tall at the head. They have very long legs, and this one had got it trapped about 15 minutes before I found him. There was only a little bit of blood, and when we freed him he ran away without a limp.