(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said a mosque should not be built near Ground Zero in Manhattan and that there should be an investigation into the funding for the proposed Islamic community center, as well as the imam who is promoting the initiative.
"I don’t believe that there should be a mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero,” King said on Wednesday. “This is such a sensitive issue, and it is offensive to so many people that I don’t think there should be a mosque there.”
King, ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, made his remarks at the conservative Heritage Foundation at an event entitled, "Keeping America Free, Safe and Prosperous: Counterterrorism in the Obama Administration."
The proposed Islamic community center, Cordoba House, is a project of the Cordoba Initiative, in Manhattan, which describes itself as “Improving Muslim-West relations” and “steering the world back to the course of mutual recognition and respect and away from heightened tensions.”
The group is headed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. On Sept. 30, 2001, two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Fiesal told CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”
When CBS’ Ed Bradley then asked, “You say that we’re an accessory—how?” Feisal said, “Because we have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.”
On Wednesday, King referenced those remarks and said he wants an investigation of Fiesal, his background and his affiliations.
"I think we should investigate the imam who is going to be at that mosque,” King said. “He is portrayed as being a moderate, a bridge builder. The fact is he was on television after 9/11 saying the U.S. brought this on themselves.
"To me, there are enough questions here. If those questions are raised, examined and explored, you could build up enough public opinion to stop the mosque,” said King.
The new community center would be built where there currently is a 150-year-old building that was slightly damaged by part of the landing gear of one of the planes that was crashed into the World Trade Center by radical Islamist terrorists.
The proposed community center would contain a 500-seat performing arts theater, a cooking school, swimming pool, restaurant, a Muslim prayer center and other amenities.
Last week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, said he opposed the Cordoba Initiative's plans.
"The proposed ‘Cordoba House’ overlooking the World Trade Center site – where a group of jihadists killed over 3,000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks – is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites," Gingrich said in a statement on his Web site.
"There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over."
King, in reference to the lack of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, said he thinks America should not dictate its rules based on the laws of Saudi Arabia or any other country.
"I wouldn't base what we do on what Saudi Arabia does," King said. "What I have called for is a full investigation of the funding behind the mosque. It is going to cost over $100 million, I believe. The people who are involved in the construction of the mosque are refusing to say where their funding is going to come from."
Inquiries to Feisal by CNSNews.com for comment on his remarks about 9/11 and Osama bin Laden were not returned before this story was published.