The imam behind a plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero is set to depart on a multi-country jaunt to the Middle East funded by the State Department — raising concerns that U.S. taxpayers may be helping him with the controversial project’s $100 million fund-raising goal. And this isn’t the first time.
As you already know, Feisal Abdul Rauf, Iman Feisal of
the proposedGround Zero mosque, will be touring the Middle East courtesy of the State Department on the taxpayers’ dime.
Outrageous as that may strike you, there are two more outrageous things on this:
a. he’s already done it twice before (the first time under the Bush administration)
b. apparently he will be accompanied by State Dept. employee J. P. Crowley. I say apparently because I have not received conformation that Crowley would go on that trip.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley praised the Imam, calling him “a distinguished Muslim cleric,” who is part of a program where “we send people from Muslim communities here in this country around the world to help people overseas to understand our society and the role of religion within our society.” Crowley also said that fundraising on the Imam’s trip for the Islamic Center would not be allowed.
But a London-based Arabic language newspaper that interviewed Abdul Rauf reported that he says he also will collect money from Muslim and Arab nations around the world — raising the possibility his goodwill mission could help him build contacts in oil-rich states.
“Does the State Department have any idea they are sending a guy to the Middle East who is going to be fund-raising perhaps among the very same people he will be meeting with?” asked Debra Burlingame, a 9/11 family member.
“We know he has a fund-raising association with Saudi Arabia,” Burlingame said, noting that the Saudis have contributed money to underwrite programs by the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a not-for-profit that Abdul Rauf runs with his wife and that is one of the sponsors of the Ground Zero mosque. “He’s going to the well, and how can they say they do or don’t know what he’s doing?”
And how will Crowley know? Does Crowley (if he goes with Feisal) speak fluent Arabic? Aside from directly asking someone to “open their checkbook”, what is the difference between networking and fundraising? And if the Imam does, will the State Dept. pull the plug on the trip and send him home? Home where? Feisal’s out of the country right now, somewhere unspecified.
But back to the above article:
It turns out that this government supported trip will be the Imam’s third with the State Department. Crowley said the first was in 2007, during the Bush administration, and that Rauf went to Egypt this past January. “We have a long term relationship with him,” Crowley explained. “His work on tolerance and religious diversity is well known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it is like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States.”
A moderate perspective from a guy who recently refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization and he has said that the United States was partly to blame for the terrorist attacks on 9-11? In an interview with “60 Minutes,” in 2001, Rauf claimed that U.S. policies were quote, “an accessory” to the 9-11 attacks.
“The State Department has no responsibility to send fruitcakes around as if they are representatives of America,” says former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton.