Yet another news flash on the whereabouts of the self-described “bridge-building” couple behind the Ground Zero mosque:
Last week, Daisy Khan was poised to travel to the Middle East, planning a $12,000 taxpayer-funded jaunt to join her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, in the United Arab Emirates, Aug. 29-Sept. 2, courtesy of the State Department.
But she didn’t go. According to a staffer at the Manhattan office shared by Khan and Rauf’s Cordoba Initiative and American Society for Muslim Advancement, Khan is still in New York, though when I called she was unavailable for questions because she was “in a meeting.” The U.S. Embassy in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi now has a statement posted on its web site, dated Aug. 27: “Speaker Program Postponed.” The wording suggests it was Khan herself who called off the trip: “Daisy Khan, who was scheduled to visit the UAE on a speaker program as part of the U.S. Embassy’s 2010 observation of the month of Ramadan, has postponed her visit.”
What’s going on? In the best case, one might hope that even the State Department finally woke up to the perversity of using taxpayer money to send to the Middle East, as a messenger of the American people, a Kashmiri-born emigre who — while availing herself of the many benefits of life in America (including the prerogative to denigrate Americans while cynically arranging to cash in on Ground Zero) – has been busy denouncing Americans en masse as bigots, and on national TV Aug. 22 called America a place “beyond Islamophobia.”
But crediting State for wise decisions on this front is a long shot. There are some good folks buried here and there within the Foggy Bottom bureaucracy — officials who place American national interests ahead of the worship of political correctness – but I have the strong impression that they make their views known at considerable peril to their careers.
Another possibility is that Khan has her hands so full right now with damage control that she’s run out of time for travel. News continues to emerge — thanks in big part to the reporting efforts of the NY Post (most other major newspapers seem unwilling to dirty their hands with real reporting) — about the past dealings of the public troika behind the Ground Zero mosque project: Khan, Rauf and their real-estate partner, Sharif El-Gamal. There is by now a welter of information concerning not only disturbing comments blaming America for Sept. 11 and refusing to condemn the terrorists of Hamas, but also a growing list of nitty-gritty items involving alleged unpaid back taxes, unhappy tenants of the Lexus-loving imam and his wife, misreported fund-raising and so on. Is it possible that spinning non-responses, or at least diverting the media with accusations of “Islamophobia,” has cut into the time Khan had allocated for her “bridge-building” State Department junket to the UAE?
Or is there some later trip now in the works? Khan herself told me in a brief phone interview last month that her husband’s State Department tour originally included Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. When I then asked the State Department for confirmation, State took days to answer anything on the record, and when an answer finally came, the Saudi leg had disappeared — but according to both Khan and an internal State Department memo, it had not been scrapped entirely. It was merely postponed. Now Khan’s trip to the UAE has been “postponed.” Is this a diplomatically polite way of saying it won’t happen? Or should we brace for news that State is arranging yet more taxpayer-funded “outreach” trips for this Cordoba couple, as they proceed with fund-raising for the $100 million Cordoba House, a.k.a. Park51?