“It is possible for us to get a financial tax around the world.” –Richard Trumpka
“It is possible for us to get a financial tax around the world.” –Richard Trumpka
No wonder the guys who want to build that Islamic center near Ground Zero are quiet as mosque mice about financing: Turns out, as The Post first reported, their own financial records are, well, a bit short of blue chip.
Indeed, Sharif El-Gamal, who owns the site — as The Post’s Isabel Vincent, Melissa Klein and Lois Weiss reported Sunday — owes nearly a quarter of a million dollars to the city in back payments.
His firm, 45 Park Place Partners, simply skipped its property-tax bills in January and July, according to the Finance Department. Gamal’s folks say he delayed payments while seeking a lower tax rate, The New York Times reported.
Gamal, 37, also reportedly pleaded guilty to at least six misdemeanors while in his teens and 20s. Charges included disorderly conduct, drunk driving and attempted shoplifting.
And he was arrested once for punching a man who owed his brother money and another time for soliciting a prostitute.
Meanwhile, tenants in New Jersey buildings owned by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who’s leading the mosque project, describe him as a veritable slumlord.
“All he likes is money,” one tenant, Vilma Then, says. “Nothing [in her building] ever gets fixed.”
Jamie Barillas, another tenant, agrees, adding that tenants are forced to call their city officials to seek action. Barillas complains, for example, that bedbugs plague her building and that managers claim they don’t have money for an exterminator.
All of which sheds new light on the question of how Gamal and Rauf will get the $100 million said to be needed for the mosque project.
Rauf has talked out of both sides of his mouth about that. He’s told US audiences that the cash will come from US Muslims but suggested to an Arabic newspaper that he’ll get funding from Arab countries.
That in itself is troubling.
Is he thinking of, say, Saudi Arabia? Funds from that country — as reports, like one in 2005 by Freedom House, have shown — have already gone to finance mosques that spread the violent Wahhabist strain of Islam.
What kind of mosque exactly do Rauf, Gamal & Co. have in mind?
But the reports about their financial records raise even more questions.
As we’ve said repeatedly, they have a right to build an Islamic center hard by Ground Zero — inappropriate as many find that to be. But they have to be able to pay for it. With clean money.
And until they say — at the least — how they’ll do that, there’s little cause to back their project
Also reported by the Post:Brother load of trouble for mosque siblings
Run-ins with the law and tax troubles are a family affair for two brothers developing the mosque near Ground Zero.
Sammy El Gamal, a partner in the firm that purchased the former Burlington Coat Factory at 45 Park Place and one of four directors of a nonprofit created to build the mosque, owes the state $22,400 in taxes. State records show three warrants issued to him, including a $19,895 bill in 2007.
Asked about the taxes, he said, “I don’t think that it concerns you. Have a nice day.”
El Gamal is among the directors listed on an application to the state Attorney General’s Office to create a charitable organization that would build and run the Islamic cultural center.
Also on the board is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and the three directors — including El Gamal’s older brother, Sharif — of Soho Properties, which paid $4.85 million for the Park Place site slated to house the center.
The Post reported Sunday that Soho Properties is in arrears to the city for $224,270 in property taxes on the site.
And recent reports show Sharif had a string of arrests dating to the early ’90s. Sammy also had a handful of misdemeanor charges in Florida in 1999 and 2000, including petit theft and larceny.
Alleged Bin Laden Aide Re-Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to Life in Prison for Brutal Attack on Prison Guard and Attempt to Attack His Lawyers
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MAHMOUD MAMDUH SALIM was re-sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to life in prison for his brutal assault on Corrections Officer LOUIS PEPE of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (“MCC”) on November 1, 2000. SALIM attacked PEPE while incarcerated in the MCC awaiting trial in the case of United States v. Bin Laden, (the “Embassy Bombings Case”). The Indictment in the Embassy Bombings Case alleged, among other things, that SALIM participated in a global conspiracy to kill Americans in connection with the operations of al Qaeda, and specifically charged that SALIM was a trusted aide to USAMA BIN LADEN. The sentence was imposed today by U.S. District Judge DEBORAH A. BATTS.
According to documents filed with the court, evidence introduced during an eight-day sentencing hearing before Judge BATTS, and decisions by Judge BATTS and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in this case:
SALIM launched his carefully prepared assault on Officer PEPE with the assistance of his cellmate at the time (and his co-defendant in the Embassy Bombings Case) KHALFAN KHAMIS MOHAMMED. Prior to the attack, SALIM made knives out of a comb and hairbrush that he ordered from the MCC commissary, filled honey-bear bottles with hot sauce, and made ropes out of cloth and saran wrap. On the day of the assault, SALIM lured Officer PEPE into SALIM’s cell on 10-South at the MCC, and SALIM and MOHAMMED then attacked Officer PEPE. SALIM knocked Officer PEPE down and sprayed hot sauce into his eyes in an attempt to blind him. When Officer PEPE continued to resist SALIM’s and MOHAMMED’s assault, SALIM took one of the knives that he had made and shoved it into Officer PEPE’s left eye. This brutal assault caused horrific injuries to Officer PEPE, including blindness in one eye and partial blindness in the other, and resulted in his confinement in a wheelchair, difficulty in speaking, and requiring nearly constant home health assistance.
Moreover, SALIM’s attack on Officer PEPE was the first step of a larger plan by SALIM to commit other violent criminal acts. Judge BATTS found that SALIM had initially planned to take hostages in an effort to free himself and his co-defendants in the Embassy Bombings Case, but then abandoned that plan. Instead, SALIM attacked Officer PEPE as the first step in a plan to assault SALIM’s attorneys, and thereby to force U.S. District Judge LEONARD B. SAND, who was presiding over the Embassy Bombings Case, to appoint new attorneys for SALIM.
SALIM had previously pled guilty to two charges related to the November 1, 2000, attack, specifically to (1) conspiring to murder Officer PEPE, and (2) attempting to murder Officer PEPE. Subsequently, following the eight-day sentencing hearing, on May 3, 2004, Judge BATTS sentenced Salim to 32 years’ imprisonment. The government then appealed that sentence because the District Court had declined to impose an enhancement under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for conduct that involves terrorism. In December 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated SALIM’s sentence and remanded the matter for the court to re-sentence SALIM with the application of the terrorism enhancement.
In resentencing SALIM, Judge BATTS made reference to an Order filed on July 8, 2010, in which the Court described some of the more aggravating characteristics of SALIM’s conduct. Among other things, Judge BATTS noted that a life sentence was appropriate because of (1) SALIM’s decision to “plunge the sharpened weapon deeply into the eye of the downed but struggling man,” which was “appalling”; (2) the grievous nature of the injury suffered by Officer PEPE; (3) the fact that SALIM intended to commit other violent acts against his attorneys after attacking Officer PEPE; and (4) his use of “religious and psychological coercion” to convince MOHAMMED to assist SALIM in his attack.
SALIM, 52, was also sentenced to a lifetime term of supervised release and was ordered to pay $4,722,820 in restitution, to reimburse the victim for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost income.
Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “By all accounts, Officer Louis Pepe’s heroic efforts on November 1, 2000, helped prevent Mahmoud Mamduh Salim from shedding even more blood than he did. As a result of Salim’s vicious, premeditated attack, Officer Pepe has suffered terrible injuries and years of pain. Today’s life sentence, which comes almost 10 years after the assault, provides at least a small measure of vindication for Officer Pepe and his family.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney JONATHAN S. KOLODNER is in charge of the prosecution.
Pakistani Taliban Leader Charged in Terrorism Conspiracy Resulting in Murder of Seven Americans in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON—Hakimullah Mehsud, the self-proclaimed emir of the Pakistani Taliban, has been charged by criminal complaint for his alleged involvement in the murder of seven American citizens on Dec. 30, 2009 at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, the Justice Department announced today.
The two-count criminal complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Aug. 20, 2010 and unsealed today, charges Hakimullah Mehsud, aka Hakimullah Mahsud, with conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens abroad and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against U.S. citizens abroad.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Hakimullah Mehsud, a resident of the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) in Pakistan, is the leader of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or what is more commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban. The TTP’s primary purpose is to force withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the FATA of Pakistan, which is located along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border; to unite against NATO forces in Afghanistan and to establish Sharia—or Islamic law—in the tribal territories. The affidavit alleges that the TTP has had alleged roles in, or claimed responsibility for, a number of acts of violence, including the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the September 2009 suicide attack on the Bannu, Pakistan police station, and numerous attacks on NATO supply lines throughout the FATA. These attacks are often coordinated with other insurgents or terrorist groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Today, the State Department designated the TTP as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and also designated Hakimullah Mehsud and another Taliban leader, Wali Ur Rehman, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. The State Department’s Rewards for Justice program is offering a reward of up to $5 million each for information leading to their location.
Hakimullah Mehsud inherited the role as the leader of the TTP after its former leader and founder, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in August 2009, according to the affidavit. Hakimullah Mehsud remains the commander of TTP, which continues to plan and carry out attacks against the interests of the United States from the FATA. The TTP has recently claimed responsibility for the May 1, 2010 failed bombing of Times Square in New York and also claimed responsibility for the Dec. 30, 2009 suicide bombing in Afghanistan that is charged in the criminal complaint unsealed today.
On Dec. 30, 2009, the affidavit alleges, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, also known as Abu Dujanah al-Khorasani (al-Balawi), a Jordanian physician, entered a U.S. military base near the town of Khost, Afghanistan, for a pre-planned meeting. Shortly after entering the base, al-Balawi detonated a suicide device concealed beneath his clothing, killing himself and seven U.S. citizens. Six other U.S. citizens were injured.
Soon after the attack, the affidavit alleges, the media arm of the TTP released a video depicting Hakimullah Mehsud and al-Balawi seated together, in which they explain in detail their motivation for launching a suicide attack against the Americans. In the video, Hakimullah Mehsud introduces al-Balawi, states al-Balawi’s reasons for becoming a suicide bomber and describes Americans as the enemy of the mujahideen.
According to the affidavit, Hakimullah Mehsud and al-Balawi both claim responsibility for an upcoming attack in the video, stating together, “And we arranged this attack to let the Americans understand that the belief of Allah, the iman [faith] that we hold, the taqwa [piety] that we strive for cannot be exchanged for all the wealth in the world.” In the video, Hakimullah Mehsud then explains that the motive for the attack against the Americans is revenge for the death of the former emir of the TTP, Baitullah Mehsud. Today, Hakimullah Mehsud is a fugitive believed to be residing in the FATA.
“Today’s charges underscore our continuing commitment to seek justice for Americans who are murdered or victimized by overseas terrorist attacks,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “I applaud the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who helped bring about this prosecution.”
“We have no higher priority than bringing to justice terrorists who kill Americans serving and working abroad,” said Ronald C. Machen, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. “We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to seek justice for the victims of this heinous terrorist attack. I am proud of the efforts of our agents, analysts and prosecutors who have worked so hard on this case.”
“The FBI is committed to bringing to justice those responsible for this horrific crime and, equally important, to provide answers and closure to family and friends of those killed,” said Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The prosecutors handling the case are Trial Attorneys Sharon Lever and Jeffrey Groharing of the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachel Carlson Lieber and Michael C. DiLorenzo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
If convicted of the charges unsealed today, Hakimullah Mehsud faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. A criminal complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant violated a criminal law. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The Park51 mosque and community center near Ground Zero is not Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s first venture into real estate development. As The Record reports, beginning in the late 1970s, Rauf acquired five apartment buildings in Union City, North Bergen, and Palisades Park, all urban areas along the New Jersey bank of the Hudson River.
He developed the properties with the help a series of government grants and loans totaling in the millions — including $384,000 in 1989 endorsed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), then mayor of Union City, and $1,295,000 underwritten by then Hudson County executive Robert C. Janiszewski, who would later serve time in federal prison on corruption charges.
But the government funds weren’t enough to keep lenders from initiating foreclosure proceedings against Rauf on over $2 million in loans connected to the properties, or from being sued for misrepresentation in 2008 by a former business associate in connection with one of the Union City buildings (both matters were settled out of court).
Nor was Rauf a very good landlord. Both The Record and the New York Post report a litany of complaints at Rauf’s buildings dating back decades and continuing to this day: heaps of garbage, overgrown grass, lack of heat and hot water; rat, cockroach, and bedbug infestations; and general filth.
On Tuesday, National Review Online visited one of the apartment buildings identified by the Post as being owned by Rauf, and spoke with several of the tenants. The building, in a working class neighborhood of the predominantly-Hispanic Union City, steps from the Lincoln Tunnel, is in poor shape. Its exterior is festooned with empty malt liquor cans, broken glass, and other refuse, and its interior is marked by mold, moisture, and decay.
The tenants are uniformly unhappy with what they describe as persistently poor–even dangerous–living conditions, and management they describe as uncaring and unresponsive. Two tenants agreed to be filmed. Only one, 26-year-old Yonaira, who has lived in the building for 16 years and is raising two small children there, gave her name and her story:
Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan, has responded to new questions about maintenance at the properties by saying that all tenant complaints are addressed as they come up, and that the Imam’s business dealings have “no relevance to the Park51 project.”
“The Imam does not get paid for his spiritual work or work as an Imam,” Khan wrote to The Record. “He invests in real estate, much as someone would invest in stocks, bonds or other assets to secure one’s future and provide an income stream. He has dedicated his life to helping others working as an Imam.”
~I don’t know how many of you saw this awhile back here at JUST Piper…I know I was angry! I am now fuming again…
A new website sponsored by the NAACP and left-leaning media operations is seeking videographers and bloggers who will search out “racism” and “extremism” among Tea Partiers.
Teapartytracker.org will feature tweets, interviews with people at rallies, blog entries and a picture of a t-shirt they say someone spotted at a rally that reads “Blacks own slaves in Mauitania, Sudan, Niger & Haiti.”
The site, sponsored by the NAACP, Think Progress, New Left Media and Media Matters for America, will monitor “racism and other forms of extremism within the Tea Party movement. We call on the Tea Party to repudiate extremists among their ranks and join in civil dialogue with all Americans.”
The NAACP and other groups have accused the Tea Party of several instances of racism, including spitting on a black congressman, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., on Capitol Hill as he went to vote for the health care bill.
Whether the spitting incident, which was caught on tape, was intentional remains subject to debate. Nonetheless, the narrative has remained a continuing theme of Tea Party critics.
The site’s logo is also an old aphorism, apparently meant to suggest that monitoring the Tea Party will prevent the group from becoming more effective. “A watched teapot never boils,” it reads.
The site’s success will likely be measured in the “gotcha” moments it can accumulate that aim to embarrass or undermine the Tea Party movement. The submissions will most often come from citizen journalists, who have grown in form and fashion since Sen. George Allen of Virginia was ousted from his Senate seat in 1996 after his “macaca” moment.
At that time, a videographer sent by his opponent’s campaign caught Allen using what critics later explained was an obscure racial slur. Allen’s campaign sank afterward, and his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, won the seat.
The fear of gotcha moments most recently forced Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to try to close a Tea Party meeting to media in order to allow people to speak freely. But Tea Partiers who attended the 90-minute event Wednesday in North Charleston City Hall told the Charleston Press and Courier that they were fine with media coverage.
“This stuff does happen, and it’s stupid,” Kelly McBride, a senior faculty member with the Poynter Institute in Florida, reportedly said. “Who isn’t a reporter these days?”
~NOTE: From a leftist point of view. Follow New Left Media:
This NEW LEFT MEDIA film was produced and edited by Chase Whiteside (interviewer) and Erick Stoll (camera operator) with additional camera work from Kasey Hosp.
While the speaker list was diverse, the overwhelmingly white crowd expressed paranoid and conspiratorial fears of multiculturalism—that atheists or black liberation theologists or radical Muslims or “free-loading” Latinos were going to ruin our country. There was the constant suggestion that white Christians and their way of life are somehow under assault, and that the attendees of this rally were here to put an end to it and return the country to what it used to be.