Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

NEW YORK – The imam behind a proposal to build a 13-story Islamic cultural center near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks refuses to condemn violent jihad groups as terrorists.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, head of the Cordoba Initiative, which seeks to construct the massive center, repeatedly refused on-air to affirm the U.S. designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization or call the Muslim Brotherhood extremists.

The Brotherhood openly seeks to spread Islam around the world, while Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction and is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilian population centers.

Rauf was speaking in a live interview with WND senior reporter Aaron Klein, who hosts a show on New York’s WABC Radio.

Klein asked Rauf on his show whether the imam agrees with the State Department’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.

“I’m not a politician,” replied Rauf. “I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question. … I’m a bridge builder. I define my work as a bridge builder. I do not want to be placed, nor do I accept to be placed in a position of being put in a position where I am the target of one side or another.”

Klein pointed out Hamas attacks have targeted civilians and asked Rauf again whether that qualifies to define Hamas as terrorists.

Rauf stated: “The targeting of civilians is wrong. It is a sin in our religion. Whoever does it, targeting civilians is wrong. I am a supporter of the state of Israel. … I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary.”

When Klein persisted in asking about Hamas, Rauf charged the radio host of “accus[ing] me of things. You are killing the messenger.”

“You are trying to bring down the person who is trying to build security between our country and our faith tradition,” said Rauf. “My urge to you. I have worked for the law-enforcement agencies.”

Klein interrupted, stating, “And yet you refuse to tell me Hamas is a terror organization.”

Audio of the interview can be heard below:

The WABC host asked Rauf whether the Muslim Brotherhood is an extremist group.

“I have nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood. My father was never a member of the Muslim Brotherhood,” retorted Rauf.

Klein, however, had not accused Rauf or his family of being involved with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Klein asked the imam who he believes was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

“There’s no doubt,” stated Rauf. “The general perception all over the world has it was created by people who were sympathetic to Osama bin Laden. Whether they were part of the killer group or not, these are details that need to be left to the law-enforcement experts.”

Rauf has been on record several times as blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks. He has been quoted refusing to admit Muslims carried out the attacks.

Referring to the Sept. 11 attacks, Rauf told CNN, “U.S. policies were an accessory to the crime that happened. We (the U.S.) have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. Osama bin Laden was made in the USA.”

Madeline Brooks, a reporter who attended a 2010 sermon by Rauf, quoted the Islamic leader as stating that “some people say it was Muslims who attacked on 9/11.”

Rauf wants to build a $100 million, 13-story Islamic cultural center and mosque near the corner of Park Place and West Broadway – about two blocks from the area known as Ground Zero.

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