Allah dollar shortage?


New York’s Ground Zero mosque team lacking funds amid bookkeeping chaos

Dreams by a Muslim group to build a mosque near Ground Zero may not match its means.

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The ambitious and immediately controversial proposal to create the $100 million religious and cultural center does not seem to be backed by any cash.

The American Society for Muslim Advancement, which proposed the center, has assets of less than $1 million, according to its most recent audited financial statement.

A sister organization, the Cordoba Initiative, listed assets of less than $20,000 in 2008. Its tax filings do not disclose at least $60,000 in private contributions, a Post analysis found, raising questions about where the money went.

Deep-pocketed benefactors who have supported the groups in the past include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Foundation, the government of Qatar and the World Economic Forum. But some of the foundations have already backed away from the mosque, which is to be called Cordoba House.

The driving forces behind the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf — a usually media-savvy imam — and his wife, Daisy Khan, have been tight-lipped on financing. They have said in brief statements that fund-raising has not started, donors have not been identified and that the Kingdom Foundation has no involvement.

“Cordoba House will be a new entity whose funding sources will be independent from the funding sources of ASMA and Cordoba Initiative,” Khan said.

Opponents are suspicious about who will foot the bill.

“I’d like to know who the hell is funding it,” said Bill Doyle, a leading advocate for families of those killed on 9/11. “There’s no question in my mind that somehow the rich Saudis are going to be approached.”

Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy in Phoenix, called a mosque by Ground Zero poor judgment and said he worried about overseas funding..

“I don’t believe that there are any foreign interests that would be helpful,” he said.

Plans for Cordoba House include a mosque that could attract up to 2,000 worshipers on Fridays, the Muslim Sabbath, as well as meeting rooms, a swimming pool, kitchen and performance space.

The center would replace the old Burlington Coat Factory building at 45 Park Place — two blocks from the World Trade Center site — which was damaged when a piece of landing gear tore through its roof on Sept. 11, 2001.

The building was purchased in July for $4.85 million by a group of companies tied to real estate developer Sharif El-Gamal. Gamal, who did not return calls seeking comment, presented plans for the mosque to a Community Board 1 committee last month, along with Rauf and Khan.

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