Monday, January 17, 2011

Ground Zero mosque ditches imam, appoints new leader with terror ties

The Muslim leader behind the beleaguered Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero is being sidelined as part of a major leadership shakeup, organizers of the controversial project announced.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will no longer be the chief religious figure in the project -- though he will still play a lesser, behind-the-scenes, role in support of the planned 13-story, $100 million facility, officials said.

Rauf's replacement, Imam Abdallah Adhami, who has been active in New York's Muslim community, will now handle religious programming for the project, known as Park51.

Critics of the project pointed out that Adhami has a link to Imam Siraj Wahhaj, of Brooklyn, whom prosecutors fingered as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj also was a character witness in the trial of convicted terror plotter Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.