Fox News, Andrew Breitbart, and other conservative media have attacked Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf because one of his "former associates" believes 9-11 was an "inside job." However, Rauf has repeatedly said the 9-11 attacks were perpetrated by extremist Muslims; moreover, Fox News and Breitbart have their own -- much more significant -- "truther" ties.
Fox, conservative media drive guilt-by-association smear of Rauf
O'Reilly: "It doesn't matter" if Rauf is a truther because "his pal" is one. On the September 14 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly touted an O'Reilly Factor "exclusive," which he claimed showed that "Rauf now is tied in with this Khan, who is a -- is a truther." When GMA host George Stephanopoulos interjected, "But there's no evidence that Rauf believes anything like that," O'Reilly replied: "It doesn't matter. It's his pal. He's his pal." O'Reilly also said that Rauf "may be," as Rauf says, "a man of peace," but went on to ask: "But who are you hanging around with?" O'Reilly had discussed the issue during the September 13 edition of his Fox News show, which featured on-screen text calling Faiz Khan a "Muslim 9/11 truther & fmr associate of Imam Rauf."
O'Reilly: Rauf, "maybe he's a good guy," but "he hangs around with a guy who says, 'Hey, Al Qaeda didn't do that. Al Qaeda didn't do 9-11.' " On the September 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, O'Reilly again brought up the allegations to claim that those behind the Islamic center are "not on the up-and-up," saying: "So now we find out that Imam Rauf, who goes -- you know, maybe he's a good guy, I don't know, he hangs around with a guy who says, 'Hey, Al Qaeda didn't do that. Al Qaeda didn't do 9-11. It was an inside job. The United States government did it.' " O'Reilly continued: "So, here's Rauf going around going, 'You know, I'm a peaceful guy. All I want is peace. I want to bring people together.' And he hangs -- he's hanging around, and founded an organization, with this guy Khan, who says, 'Al Qaeda didn't do it. The U.S. government did it.' Does that make sense to anyone?"
Fox Nation: "Mosque Imam Pals Around With Truthers." On September 14, the Fox Nation website featured the headline, "Mosque Imam Pals Around With Truthers," which directed readers to a New York Post article reporting that a "founding member of an organization run by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the driving force behind the planned mosque near Ground Zero, claims that the 9/11 attacks were an 'inside job.' "
Beck calls for government to "investigate" Rauf and former associate Khan, "the friend of the Imam." On his September 14 syndicated radio show, Fox News' Glenn Beck picked up O'Reilly's allegations about Rauf and Khan, whom he referred to as "the friend of the Imam ... now 9-11 truther," to call for an investigation of them. Beck stated: "So that's who we've got going on with this mosque. Yet another piece in this puzzle that says no, not even -- don't even build it at Ground Zero. Investigate these people."
NY Post: "Rauf's longtime associate ... raises yet more questions about the so-called moderate imam." In a September 14 editorial, the New York Post seized on the allegations to attack Rauf, claiming that because Khan, "Rauf's longtime associate ... touts 'the inescapable fact that 9/11 was an inside job,' " it "raises yet more questions about the so-called moderate imam and the people around him."
Breitbart website: "Imam linked with truther." On September 14, Breitbart also pushed the allegations on his website, BreitbartTV, using the headline, "Report: Imam linked with truther." It featured a clip from O'Reilly's Fox News show in which O'Reilly claimed that there is now "evidence that the Ground Zero imam is associated with a radical Muslim," because of his "troubling association" with Khan. Beneath the clip, text read: "The New York Post is reporting that Faiz Khan, a close associate of Imam Rauf, was a board member of an organization that pushes the idea that the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 were part of an 'inside job'."
Fox, Breitbart have closer ties to 9-11 truthers than Rauf allegedly does
Fox News' Napolitano has praised and promoted 9-11 truther Jesse Ventura. During the March 22 edition of his then-online show, Freedom Watch, Fox News' senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said he "admired" guest Jesse Ventura, calling him a "champion of exposing government fraud and lies," and promoted Ventura's belief that the government either "participate[d]" in 9-11 or "knew it was going to happen and didn't do very much to stop it for political reasons." Napolitano did not challenge or dispute Ventura's 9-11 conspiracy theory, instead asking Ventura if "someday we will look on 9-11 the way we look on the JFK assassination today, that is, where people who question the government's involvement will be mainstreamed, rather than looked upon as an extremist fringe."
Napolitano has hosted 9-11 truther Alex Jones, whom he calls a "dear friend," and he is a regular on Jones' radio program. Napolitano has also hosted Jones, whose website says: "Alex Jones has been on the front lines of the growing global information war from ground zero to the occult playgrounds of the power-mad elite. Jones predicted the attacks on September 11th, 2001 and is considered one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement." Napolitano is also a regular guest on Jones' show and has called Jones a "dear friend" who "we go to" because of "your zeal and your courage and your fearlessness in exposing" the government.
9-11 truther is frequent contributor to Andrew Breitbart's website. Michael Moriarty, a frequent contributor to Breitbart's website, is a 9-11 truther. Appearing on the radio program Deadline Live in February 2007, Moriarty, who played assistant district attorney Ben Stone on NBC's Law & Order, was asked by host Jack Blood if he believes "that 9-11 had fingerprints of [an] inside job." Moriarty responded with his "theory" that before 9-11, President "Bush talked to the Bin Laden family in Riyadh" and said he needed "probable cause" to invade Iraq; the "Bin Ladens," in turn, told Bush that "we'll give you probable cause." When asked if he had any doubt that the Oklahoma City bombing was an "inside job," Moriarty replied: "None! There were two seismic reports of explosions, there were no federal -- there were no children of federal employees in the building at the time in the daycare center, and the ATF were nowhere to be found."
Rauf has repeatedly said 9-11 was a terrorist act committed by extremist Muslims
Rauf: 9-11 attacks committed by "extremists who profess to be Muslim." Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan make clear on the website of Rauf's organization, the Cordoba Foundation, that 9-11 was an act "cloaked in the guise of Islam ... perpetrated by these self-serving extremists and their perverted view of Islam." They go on to say: "It shames us that extremists who profess to be Muslim perpetrated murder on such a horrific scale for political and financial gain in the name of Islam."
From the Cordoba Initiative website [emphasis added]:
The events of 9/11 were horrific. What happened that day was terrorism, and it shames us that it was cloaked in the guise of Islam. It was inhumane, un-Islamic and is indefensible regardless of one's religious persuasion. Not only Americans but also all Muslims are threatened by the lies and actions being perpetrated by these self-serving extremists and their perverted view of Islam.
The community center will be a platform to amplify the voices of the overwhelming majority of Muslims whose love for America and commitment to peace gets drowned out by the actions of a few extremists. It will become a platform where the voices of those who resist religious extremism and terrorism can be amplified and celebrated.
Like all New Yorkers and Americans we too were devastated by 9/11. We share and respect the incredible pain and loss suffered by the victims of 9/11. We fully recognize their legitimate concerns and sensitivity to the community center. It shames us that extremists who profess to be Muslim perpetrated murder on such a horrific scale for political and financial gain in the name of Islam. We look forward to actively engaging with leaders of the victims of 9/11 to respond to their concerns and obtain their support for our efforts.
Rauf: 9-11 was a "very painful experience for the Muslim community" because those who committed attacks "were in fact Muslims." During a town hall meeting hosted by CNN's Paula Zahn in September 2003 (accessed via Nexis), Zahn asked Rauf how difficult it was "for the Muslim community to reconcile the fact that the men who committed these horrendous attacks ... were in fact Muslims and Muslims died in the process." Rauf explained that it was a "very difficult" and "very painful experience for the Muslim community, because what happened on 9/11, as was mentioned by many Islamic leaders around the world and the greatest Islamic jurists, is outside the box of Islam." Rauf added: "The Koran, Islamic law, Islamic jurisprudence, is explicitly against any kind of terrorism. And Islamic jurists have made it very clear. Among the best, among the most well-known Islamic jurists have actually issued a fatwa within a month after 9/11, saying that what happened on 9/11 is an act of haraba (ph), an act of terrorism, as it's inconsistent with Islamic jurisprudence and law and ethics."
Rauf: September 11 was an example of a "suicide bombing committed in the name of Islam." In his 2004 book, What's Right With Islam, Rauf repeatedly made clear that he believes the September 11 attacks were committed by Muslim extremists.
From What's Right With Islam:
An old expression goes, "Buddha and the devil are never more than a hair's breadth apart." If we fail to recognize this hair's breadth of difference, we risk confusing right expressions of religiousness with wrong expressions, and in the process, we may do wrong to others. This is why sincere Buddhists do not regard Aum Shinrikyo as a genuine expression of Buddhism, any more than sincere Muslims regard September 11 as a genuine expression of Islam. [Page 134]
It is noteworthy that high-income groups have relatively high suicide rates. This is consistent with the fact, for example, that the suicide bombers who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon came from relatively well-to-do families. ... Applying Durkheim's insights to the phenomenon of suicide bombing committed in the name of Islam, and in particular the suicide bombings in Israel and those of September 11, and those in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kenya and in Iraq, we can reasonably infer the following. [Page 145-6]
A fatwa was issued on September 27, 2001, by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi and four other signatories, pointing out that under Islamic law the events of September 11 were terrorist acts, whose perpetrators should be brought to justice, and therefore it was their [Muslims serving in the U.S. armed forces] duty to act accordingly. ... I was called by the New York Times to comment on the fatwa, and I strongly recommended that it be printed, since the Times then was running a special called "A Nation Challenged." The fatwa would have made valuable reading for the Times's Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike and would have helped amplify the Muslim moderate voice. [Page 162]
Jewish Week: Rauf "believes [Islamic] tradition has been hijacked by militant radicals, culminating in the Sept. 11 attack." In a January 2003 article (via Nexis), The Jewish Week reported that Rauf "is frustrated by the perception so many Americans have of Islam" and "believes that [Islamic] tradition has been hijacked by militant radicals, culminating in the Sept. 11 attack that destroyed the World Trade Center only 12 blocks from his mosque."
From the January 24, 2003, article:
For example, as an outspoken critic of the Wahabi form of fundamental Islam whose hatred of the West is embodied by and exported from the mosques of Saudi Arabia, he described the Wahabi takeover of Islam there "as if the Satmars struck oil and spoke for all of Judaism."
Abdul Rauf is frustrated by the perception so many Americans have of Islam because he says his religion has a rich tradition, as practiced over centuries, of restraint, respect and the quest for a just society. He believes that tradition has been hijacked by militant radicals, culminating in the Sept. 11 attack that destroyed the World Trade Center only 12 blocks from his mosque.
His goal is to reclaim the model of a peaceful Islam, he said, and the vehicle for that transformation is the American experience, which he noted has had a profound impact on the major religions as practiced here.
NY Daily News: "Rauf made clear Islam's image has been distorted by radical fundamentalists." In a March 2003 article (via Nexis), the New York Daily News reported on a lecture Rauf gave to FBI agents following criticism of the agency's handling of Arab-Americans in reaction to the 9-11 attacks. The article reported that Rauf explained that "Islamic extremism for the majority of Muslims is an oxymoron" and "made clear Islam's image has been distorted by radical fundamentalists who insist on strict adherence to their interpretation of the Koran and impose a fascistic order on certain countries."
Khan reportedly said he has had no contact with Rauf "for several years now" and is no longer an ASMA officer
Khan has reportedly stated that "Rauf and Daisy Khan never discussed 9/11 theories with him." In its piece on Rauf's "longtime partner" who "believes the 9/11 attacks were 'an inside job,' " the Investigative Project on Terrorism wrote that it had received an email from the associate, Khan, in which he wrote that "he was no longer an ASMA officer and had not preached at Rauf's Al Farah mosque 'for several years now.' " Khan also reportedly "indicated that he dropped out of the 9/11 truth movement to focus on his medical career." IPT further reported: "Rauf and Daisy Khan never discussed 9/11 theories with him, Faiz Khan wrote. Despite being cited in the December 2009 Der Spiegel article about the mosque project, Khan said he hasn't spoken with Rauf or Daisy Khan 'for several years now.' "
Park51 spokesman: "Park51 had no knowledge of the insensitive and misguided views" of Faiz Khan. In a September 14 article, the New York Post reported that a spokesman for the Park51 project responded to the allegations about Rauf's "truther" ties. The article stated: " 'Park51 had no knowledge of the insensitive and misguided views that Faiz Khan holds about those who were responsible for 9/11,' the spokesman said, adding, 'Khan will no longer be invited back to lead prayers at the mosque.' "