In the furor over the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, the chief argument against it has been all but overlooked: it will be a hugesecurity risk. Indeed "risk" is the wrong word: it is virtually guaranteed to become a potent engine for future attacks against this country.
How can we know this? From experience. Just as the experience of RomneyCare in Massachusetts (a sharp rise in health care costs) foretells that ObamaCare will have the same result because of the close similarities between the two, so the Taiba mosque and Arab-German cultural center in Frankfurt (closed down last week by German authorities) foretells what the Cordoba mosque and cultural center will bring to New York.
The Taiba mosque (then called al-Quds) was the hang-out of Mohammed Atta and several other 9/11 hijackers. Although it is unprepossessing (a small run-down building in a poor neighborhood—no $100 million iconic structure like the one proposed for New York), it became a magnet drawing enthusiasts for jihad from around the world. Die Zeit editor Josef Joffe writes in The Wall Street Journal: "Why so? Manfred Murck, the deputy chief of Germany's domestic security agency explains: 'Because it has the aura of the 9/11 assassins.' Devotees of the 9/11 killers have come from all over on a tour of jihadism that starts in Hamburg, then proceeds to Madrid, then to London, where dozens were murdered in the tube in 2005. 'Hey I prayed where Mohamed Atta did…'"
Not surprising, it also drew Islamic zealots not content with celebrating jihad but determined on acting it out. Moroccans, Bosnians, Saudis, Egyptians, Moslems from Chechnya and Pakistan--and most worrying to the German authorities--German converts to Islam prayed and plotted together and then set off to on their "mission from God." In March 2009 11 would-be Hamburg jihadists went to Pakistan for terrorist training. Precisely because of its Nazi past, Germany is reluctant to take action against religious institutions. But the situation was getting out of hand. Time quotes Christoph Ahlhaus, Hamburg's Interior Minister, "Behind the scenes, an alleged cultural organization has shamelessly exploited the freedoms of our constitutional democracy to promote the cause of the 'holy war;'…[Hamburg] must not serve as the incubator for Islamists willing to use violence."
If the mere "aura" of Mohamed Atta has proved so powerful in Hamburg, can you imagine what a magnet a mosque at the site of their greatest triumph over the infidels would be? In the imagination of the jihadistsit will be almost as good as a mosque in the actual footprint of the towers, for the Burlington Coat factory site on which it will go up was badly damaged when landing gear and fuselage from one of the planes that tore into the World Trade Center crashed through the roof. It would indeed be, as real estate investor and key figure in developing the mosque Sharif El-Gamal, puts it "an iconic buildingthat will have people come and visit from around the world"—unfortunately it will be the same kind of jihadi pilgrims that flocked to the Taiba mosque and cultural center.
It is because the mosque's Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, El Gamal and the potential Middle East funders understand this all too well that the prospect of an alternative site—on the surface an easy way to put the controversy to rest--is so unappealing to them. And that's why those behind the mosque might reluctantly accept New York Governor Patterson's offer of an alternative site on state-owned land only if, despite the political and media elites, public pressure should become overwhelming.
At any other site Imam Rauf would be unlikely to raise anything like the $100 million he can plausibly promise to obtain in the space of a year for what the Jewish Institute for NationalSecurity Affairs aptly says "will be widely understood in the Moslem world as a battlefieldmonument in the name of Islam." It took Rauf's father (who died in 2004) decades to raise the $25 million for the mosque he established in 1991 on East 96th Street in Manhattan. Stephen Schwartz has pointed out that this mosque, of which the current Rauf is a long-time trustee, also has a less than stellar history: shortly after 9/11 its imam Mohammed Gamei'a left the U.S. for Egypt where he told an Egyptian website: "The Jews were behind these ugly acts [9/11] while we, the Arabs, were innocent." His successor at the 96th Street mosque, Imam Abu-Namous has been cagier, saying he could not rule out possible perpetrators "whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish."(http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/rauf-radicals)
While New York's mayor Bloomberg calls opposition to the mosque a disgrace to the memory of the firefighters who died on 9/11(!), Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director general of Al-Arabiya TV, underscores the folly of such rhetoric. In the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat he writes that the mosque "will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monumentto those who committed the crime." Says Al-Rashed: "I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a monument of a place of worship that tomorrow may become a source of pride for the terrorists and their Muslim followers…"
The views of the mosque's imam (or imams) will clearly have a major impact on the character of the mosque. In the case of the Taiba mosque, one of the imams was Mamoun Darkazanli, dubbed "the hate preacher." Joffe writes that German investigators call him the "elder statesman of jihad" and bin Laden's man in Germany. Spain, which believes he helped the Madrid train bombers of 2004, asked for his extradition but although the Germans arrested him on a Spanish warrant, the German constitutional court released him on the grounds that extradition would violate his rights as a German citizen.
The smooth-talking Imam Rauf is very far in style from Darkazanli. He is much more like Tariq Ramadan, the urbane and articulate Swiss born academic whose role as an alleged "moderate" has made him a fixture of the "commentariat" on Islam on European television and even secured him an invitation from the British Prime Minister to serve on the government's task force on preventing extremism. (Rauf's supposed moderation has won him a State Department gig as roving ambassador to the Middle East, particularly convenient now since it gives him an all-expenses paid opportunity to spot and tap likely funders for his mosque.) But as French journalist Caroline Fourest documents extensively in her book Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan (now translated into English) Ramadan, grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Moslem Brotherhood, says one thing to his Islamic followers, another to his Western audience. (The U.S. banned Ramadan from coming to the U.S. in 2004 under the provisions of the Patriot Act that allows the U.S. to keep out anyone suspected of supporting terror—the Obama administration recently lifted the ban.)
Rauf is very much in this slippery tradition. But, as in the case of Tariq Ramadan, it doesn't require massive research to recognize that he is an Islamic extremist, not, as he portrays himself, a bridge-building interfaith pioneer in the Muslim community. The project with which he is most closely associated is the "Shariah Index Project" which measures how closely each country approaches the ideal of complete conformity to Sharia law in governance and society and distributes literature promoting sharia compliance. (Christine Brim onbigpeace.com, on the basis of copious since-deleted pages on Rauf's website which she provides for readers deduces that a number of floors of the proposed mosque building are to be devoted to the Shariah project, making it what she calls "the base for a project to institutionalize Shariah in America."
In 2007 Rauf attended the conference of Hizb-ut-Tahir (Islamic Party of Liberation) in Indonesia, an outfit banned in eight countries (including Germany), whose goal is to unify all Muslim countries in an Islamic caliphate under Islamic law and from there proselytize the world.
Rauf wrote a book, which in English carries the comforting title What's Right with Islam is What's Right with America. But it was published in Malaysia under the very different title A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa [Proselytizing] in the Heart of America Post 9-11.
Taiba at Ground Zero?
Only days after 9/11 Rauf was interviewed by Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes. Rauf declared "U.S. policies were an accessory to the crime." Challenged to explain how, Rauf replied "Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most most direct sense, Obama bin Laden is made in the USA." (For our government and media it is apparently enough for a Moslem to say 9/11 was a crime for him to earn the sobriquet of "moderate"—it doesn't matter if he says "the Jews" or "the U.S." was the real culprit.)
The very name Rauf has given his plan for the mosque "The Cordoba Initiative" tells a Muslim audience his true attitudes. The Cordoba cathedral was converted to a mosque after the Moslem conquest of Spain in 711 and the city of Cordoba, in which it stands, was at the heart of the great cultural center of Andalusia (Al-Andalus to Moslems), which Islamists aspire to reclaim.
And while Rauf has assembled a gaggle of rabbis in support of his project, he dodges when asked directly if he condemns Hamas terrorism: "the issue of terrorism is a very complex question."
Whatever one may say about Rauf's "right" to his beliefs, he is deceitful when he says the mosque "sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11." Moreover he is clearly not the person to block or discourage those who would use his mosque at Ground Zero as a rallying place for Islamic triumphalism.
Once a radical mosque is in operation, it becomes extremely difficult to close it down. German authorities have shut down the Taiba mosque temporarily but the courts may decide otherwise. Radical Muslim leaders are adept at casting themselves as victims. Last year the Taiba association (Time reports) claimed it was the "victim of a big media campaign, a bad secret-service plot and a concocted political farce."
In The Nation Katha Politt writes that Cordoba House "will be a showplace of moderate Islam, an Islam for the pluralist West—the very thing wise heads in the United States and Europe agree is essential to integrate Muslim immigrants and prevent them from becoming fundamentalists and even terrorists." Once the mosque at Ground Zero turns out to be Wahhabi Central, it will be too late. The Nation, the ACLU and assorted useful idiots can be counted upon even then to believe the assurances of Imam Rauf and his like against the evidence of their lying eyes.
All of which means the time to stop the mosque at Ground Zero is now.