By Douglas J. Hagmann
Prepare to be righteously outraged.
As if it isn’t enough that slumlord and terrorist apologist Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his cadre of associates are rubbing salt in a still-gaping American wound through his plans to erect an iconic symbol of Islamic conquest in the shadows of the former World Trade Center, the Cordoba Initiative (as it was once known) is asking you, the American taxpayer, to subsidize it.
An application for a $5 million in federal grant money was reportedly made on or about November 5, 2010 with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) by Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the Ground Zero mosque and Rauf associate.
The LMDC was formed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks by former Governor Pataki and former Mayor Giuliani to help plan the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan. It is a joint State-City corporation governed by a 16-member Board of Directors, half appointed by the Governor of New York and half by the Mayor of New York.
They have yet to be awarded any funding by the LMDC as the confidential review process is still underway. Nonetheless, the mere fact that El-Gamal and his associates applied for grant money is raising some eyebrows. Congressman Peter King (R-NY), the presumptive new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee called it “absolutely disgraceful,” and added that “it goes entirely against the spirit of the fund” in an interview with Fox News. “It’s an affront to the memory of all those who were murdered on 9-11. There are so many worthwhile projects in lower Manhattan. This shows a gross insensitivity to the most fundamental feelings of New Yorkers and to those murdered on 9-11 it is a slap in the face that is a terrible insult.”
The grant application was submitted under the Lower Manhattan Community and Cultural Enhancement Program that is administered by the LMDC. That program was established “to provide up to a total of $17 million in grants through a competitive process to not-for-profit and government organizations engaged in cultural or community programs or projects.” The “Ground Zero mosque project is asking for nearly a third of the available money. Will they get it? Some of it? All of it? It’s indeed possible, according to the research and interviews I’ve conducted this week.
A source close to a member of the LMDC General Advisory Council confirmed that an application “was submitted and met all of the criteria for consideration.” Additionally, “the applicants were extremely careful to structure the grant application to include the request for only the portion of the proposed structure that will not be used for religious activities.” This source stated that there is serious consideration being given to awarding at least some of the requested funds, although “there is some additional financial information needed from the applicants that has yet to be received.”
In addition to the LMDC grant money, the Cordoba Initiative is actively pursuing additional public funding. As reported by Reuters in an article on August 27, 2010, a spokesman for New York City Comptroller John Liu said that the Islamic Center “could qualify for tax-free financing,” and that Liu “is willing to consider approving the public subsidy.” Rauf, El Gamal and the mosque’s backers are attempting to raise at least $70 million in tax-exempt debt to build the center.
Regardless of the funding sources, those of us who understand the Islamic playbook must not let the construction of this symbol of conquest happen. Not for our sake or the sake of our families and our future generations.
To courteously voice your concerns over the possible grant being awarded to the Cordoba Initiative (now referred to as the Park 51 Project), you might consider contacting the LMDC directly. Below is their contact information, along with a listing of the present board members.
One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10006
Phone: (212) 962-2300
Fax: (212) 962-2431 / 33
Avi Schick, Chairman
John C. Whitehead, Founding Chairman
Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr.
Amanda M. Burden
Robert M. Harding
Thomas S. Johnson
Kate D. Levin
Robert K. Steel
Kevin M. Rampe
William C. Rudin