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Brothers in Jussie Smollett Case Were Instagram Friends With the Actor

Brothers in Jussie Smollett Case Were Instagram Friends With the Actor

Brothers in Jussie Smollett Case Were Instagram Friends With the Actor

The two men follow Smollett on Instagram and even played his music over a couple of their videos.

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Social media activity from the two brothers connected to the Jussie Smollett case — who were reportedly seen leaving the grand jury room Tuesday afternoon where they were expected to testify against the actor — shows they were familiar and even friendly with him prior to the alleged attack, with one of them writing "ha ha (i love you)" on an Instagram video featuring Smollett's music.

Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were initially arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International airport last Wednesday and taken into custody under probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged hate crime against the Empire star. Smollett previously told police on Jan. 29 that he was attacked and beaten by two white men in face masks who shouted homophobic and racist slurs and said, "This is MAGA country!"

The brothers were later released without charges, and it is now being reported that police are investigating whether they worked with Smollett to stage the attack. Smollett's team has denied all such reports.

Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo and Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo are from Nigeria. They are part of a three-man fitness coaching business on social media called Team Abel, launched in 2015, with social media presence across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Posts and links from their Instagram page (which has been set to private since the Smollett story broke) reveal that Ola has appeared on Empire as an extra, and took a photograph with series creator Lee Daniels. He also has a Soundcloud page for his own rap tracks under the name Juice Man aka King Ola.

Abel has appeared on television himself, including a minor role in Chicago P.D. last year. Team Abel’s YouTube channel features audition tapes for the Black Mafia Family series.

Smollett appears to know the brothers, as he and Team Abel follow each other on Instagram. Two videos shared on the team_abel Instagram account feature music by Smollett, one of them with the caption “song by @jussiesmollett ha ha (i love you).” 

The brothers' lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, has told outlets that the men know Smollett and would even attend a local gym with him. A source who frequents one of the gyms that the men visit confirmed to The Advocate that the men would openly discuss their connections with Empire.

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Christine Linnell