An identified group with unknown sponsors has purchased building steps away from where the WorldTrade Center once stood -- to turn it into potentially one of the largest New York City mosques.Also, call it just plain creepy.
At the moment the building, the old Burlington Coat Factory, already serves as a mini-mosque: an iron grill lifts every Friday afternoon for a little known Imam leading prayers a few yards away from where Osama Bin Laden’s airborne Islamist bombers killed nearly 3000 people back in 2001.
The Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, told the New York Times -- which put the story on its front page Wednesday -- that he has assembled several million dollars to turn it into ‘’an Islamic center near the city’s most hallowed piece of land that would stand as one of ground zero’s more unexpected and striking neighbors.’’
The 61-year-old Imam said he paid $4.85 million for it -- in cash, records show. With 50,000 square feet of air rights and enough financing, he plans an ambitious project of $150 million, he said, akin to the Chautauqua Institution, the 92 Street Y or the Jewish Community Center.
The origins of such monies are unexplained; neither are the countries or entity advancing such huge donations. Most US mosques, including many in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx are funded directly or indirectly by Saudi Arabia the country to which 15 of the 19 hijackers who bombed the World TradeCenter belonged. The UAE, Qatar and Iran are other major sponsors across the USA.
The money trail is an important question that must be answered by the Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg with more than a bland comment by one of his spokesmen, Andrew Brent, who quipped to the Times, “If it’s legal, the building owners have a right to do what they want.”
At the moment, the location is not designated a mosque, but rather an overflow prayer space for another mosque, Al Farah, at 245 West Broadway in TriBeCa, where Imam Feisal is the spiritual leader. Call this creeping annexation...
Saturday, December 19, 2009
It's everywhere. Even, if you can believe it, adjacent to Ground Zero, reports Youssef M. Ibrahim: