Many in the mainstream press are still lauding Ground Zero mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as a "moderate" Muslim, despite the growing number of reports that bring into question his ties to extremists, the funding sources for his proposed mosque and his building plans.
"[The mosque] is the brainchild of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a well-meaning American cleric who has spent years trying to promote interfaith understanding, not an apostle of religious war like Osama bin Laden," reported the Economist on Aug. 7.
The network news stations have also ignored legitimate criticism of the Feisal, with only one program – CBS "Evening News" on Aug. 3 – reporting on these concerns.
Rauf has not been definitively linked to terrorism. However, he has acted as an apologist for terrorists in the past.
"I wouldn't say that the United States deserved [the Sept. 11 attacks], but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened," said Feisal on CBS 60 Minutes on Sept. 30, 2001. "[W]e have been an accessory to a lot of – of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it – in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA."
Politicians like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and organizations like the Anti-Defamation League have opposed the Islamic center at Ground Zero and called for an investigation into the mosque's funding.
And in recent days, information has come to light that raises more questions about Rauf's mosque project. For example, the group behind the Islamic center – the Cordoba Initiative – does not own one of the buildings on the proposed site of the Islamic center, a fact that the organization did not disclose, according to the New York Post.
Also, Fox News' Geraldo Rivera reported that the development company that purchased the property for the mosque has a strange financial history. Sharif El-Gamal, the real estate developer who put down the $4.8 million to buy the property in 2006, worked as a waiter at a New York restaurant in 2002, just four years before.