Latest mosque issue – the money trail

Tom Sileo Contributor
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First there was the battle over the mosque. Now there’s the battle over who’s funding the mosque and the campaign against it.

The fact that it’s not easy to figure out where proponents and opponents of the mosque project in lower Manhattan are getting their money has given each side the opportunity to cast the other’s finances — and motives — in a sinister light.

The mosque money trail became an issue in its own right when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outraged Park51 opponents by questioning their motives and calling for an investigation of their finances, saying the finances of both sides should be transparent as the Park51 plan to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque near ground zero has become the subject of a national debate.

“If I were a Democrat, I would be ashamed of what Pelosi said and embarrassed by it,” said David Horowitz, the former-leftist-turned-conservative, whose David Horowitz Freedom Center has steered nearly $1 million over the past three years to Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch group, one of the leading opponents of the lower Manhattan mosque plan.

Horowitz bristled when asked about the source of those funds, asserting the media’s time would be better spent delving into the recent refusal by Park51’s developers to rule out accepting contributions from Saudi Arabia and Iran to help pay for the $100 million project, which would be located blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.

“You ought to find out if Syria or Iran — whose president, or whatever the hell he is, has called for the wiping of America from the face of the earth — is behind [the mosque], but you’re doing an article about my funding,” Horowitz said. “I have nothing to hide about my funding. But it’s not parallel.”

Mosque opponents have seized on the donations, totaling $900,000, that the government of Qatar and a foundation run by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal have made to nonprofits or projects headed by Feisal Abdul Rauf, the would-be imam of the Manhattan mosque.

Former Rep. Rick Lazio, who has made his opposition to the mosque a centerpiece of his campaign for New York’s GOP gubernatorial nomination, has repeatedly called on his likely Democratic opponent, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, to investigate the financiers of the mosque project.

“Are they radical organizations?” Lazio asked at a recent campaign stop. “Are they a foreign government?”

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