The Rosett Report

Imam Feisal Meets With UAE Mosque and Money Crowd

As the imam behind the Ground Zero mosque project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, continues his State Department-hosted “public diplomacy” visit to the United Arab Emirates, the glimpses of his activities over there get ever more interesting. Back home, Americans are now reading the Bergen Record’s dispatches on Rauf’s history as a New Jersey landlord with a tangled financial trail and angry tenants registering recurring complaints about his premises, listing such items as infestations of cockroaches and rats, piles of unremoved trash and “filthy halls.”  Meanwhile, in the UAE, U.S. State Department officials have been squiring Rauf around on the final leg of his taxpayer-funded $16,000 swing through the Middle East (that tab includes an allowance of $496 per day to keep him comfortable in Abu Dhabi).

And the  U.S. Embassy in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi has now posted on its web site a bulletin dated Aug. 30, making brief mention of some of Rauf’s meetings since he arrived a few days ago — you can find it here, complete with a photo of Rauf at a flower-bedecked banquet table in Abu Dhabi.

Rauf’s UAE pow-wows have included a meeting with “religious officials” at the “General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments.” What, exactly, is this outfit? According to an Abu Dhabi government web site, it’s an “independent legal entity” created under UAE federal law, which engages in activities such as “supervision of mosques” and “investment of the endowment to develop the society.” Among other things, this Islamic Affairs and Endowments authority solicits and directs funds for building and refurbishing mosques. 

But we can rest assured that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, currently in need of $100 million or more for his Ground Zero mosque and Islamic center, is not fund-raising while on his taxpayer-bankrolled, U.S. government-hosted tour. The State Department has assured us he would never do that.

Rauf’s State Department-arranged dance card in the UAE has also included speaking to a roundtable of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen’s Council, hosted by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  

But we can rest assured that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, currently in need of $100 million or more for his Ground Zero mosque and Islamic center, is not fund-raising while on his taxpayer-bankrolled, U.S. government-hosted tour. The State Department has assured us he would never do that.

 Kudos at least to the U.S. Embassy in the UAE for providing at least minimal information on Rauf’s doings while he travels in comfort on the taxpayers’ tab. The U.S. embassies on his previous taxpayer-funded stops, in Bahrain and Qatar, were rather less forthcoming (here’s the official account of his multi-day stay in Doha). The State Department in Washington has been either remarkably uninformed about the specifics of his travels, or pretty much mute. And Rauf himself, before embarking on this tour, spent weeks in Malaysia, where he has longstanding ties and keeps an office. Whatever he was doing there, he has yet to disclose. It does seem that his State Department “public diplomacy” itinerary included a stop in Saudi Arabia; apparently cancelled by State at the last minute. Did he go there anyway? Let’s assume not. But how would we know? While he’s busy expecting the American public to passively  submit to his preferred version of Islamic “bridge-building” at Ground Zero, would he be willing to share with this same American public the full details of his travels, tickets, and where and when and what exactly he’s been doing during his months abroad? 

But … you know the refrain by now… we can rest assured that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, currently in need of $100 million or more for his Ground Zero mosque and Islamic center, is not fund-raising while on his taxpayer-bankrolled, U.S. government-hosted tour. The State Department has assured us he would never do that.