Former ‘Ground Zero’ Mosque Imam Accused Of Embezzling Donations
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who formerly was the leader of the group seeking to build the controversial Ground Zero mosque near the World Trade Center, is alleged in a lawsuit of stealing donations to fund his lavish lifestyle.
According to the New York Post,
“Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf treated his Cordoba Initiative and Shariah Index Project, nonprofits meant to promote religious tolerance and fight anti-Muslim bigotry, like a personal piggy bank, the suit filed by Westchester businessman Robert Leslie Deak alleges.
“Over several years, Rauf had accepted $167,000 from Deak, a self-described Muslim convert and Middle East expert who advises the Center for a New American Security and the National Defense University Foundation.
“But that money was ‘utilized by Rauf for his personal use’ along with his third wife, Daisy Khan, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit
The New York Daily News reports that Rauf spent money on a “luxury sports car, personal real estate and entertainment for the imam and his wife” plus vacations with another woman with whom he allegedly had a personal relationship.
The lawsuit also suggests possible tax fraud according to the Post:
“In the suit, Deak and his wife, Moshira Solimon, further allege that Rauf’s nonprofit accepted $3 million in donations from the government of Malaysia to expand the Cordoba Initiative, but never declared to the IRS the donations in 2008, 2009 and 2010.”
The imam’s lawyer has denied the allegations and asserted that they lack merit and have no basis.
Rauf has had no affiliation with the mosque project for two years. The Daily News notes that “Rauf, who became a polarizing figure in the national debate over the mosque near the World Trade Center site, was ousted as the religious leader of the planned Muslim community center in January 2011.”
[Image credit: World Economic Forum]