As controversy surrounds the construction of a 13-story mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero, FOX News has learned that an effort to place a second mosque close to the hallowed site in New York City is in its advanced stages.
The Masjid Mosque has raised $8.5 million and is seeking an additional $2.5 million to begin construction. While it apparently has not settled on a final location, it has told donors it plans to build very close to where 3,000 people were killed in the September 11 terror attacks.
In fact, the website appealing for donations boldly states that it plans to “build the 'House of Allah' next to the World Trade Center. Help us raise the flag of 'LA ILLAH ILLA ALLAH' in downtown Manhattan."
One source said he believed the planners are considering a five-story building on 23 Park Place, closer to Ground Zero than the 13-story mosque the Cordoba Initiative is planning to build. But a tax record search shows that 23 Park Place is in private hands and has not changed owners since 2008.
Unlike the massive $100 million Cordoba House mosque, the Masjid Mosque is small – and it is no stranger to the neighborhood. Since 1970 it had been located at 12 Warren Street, about four blocks north of the World Trade Center, in a neat but nondescript industrial space that once housed a printing shop. It lost its lease in 2008 when the building was sold, and it was evicted from its second-floor prayer space on May 25 of that year. Since then it has been operating out a cramped basement space in a nearby building at 20 Warren Street.
On Friday evenings the mosque, which is popular with street vendors and taxi drivers, becomes so crowded that worshipers spill onto nearby sidewalks to pray in what has come to be a community event.
A press representative for Daisy Kahn, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, said neither she nor anyone in her group had been aware of the Masjid’s efforts. “They have no connection to us,” she said. “We didn't even know they were there.”
Masjid mosque leaders claim on their website that they are deeply involved in converting people to Islam and run a special program to convert those who are interested.
Efforts to reach mosque leaders were not successful. Calls left with Naheem Mohammed, the mosque’s treasurer, were not returned. Calls to the mosque itself were not answered. And efforts to reach Abdullah El-Khory, the president of the mosque's board, were not successful.
Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1, also declined to return several calls. The board, which monitors and approves all development in the financial district surrounding Ground Zero and has been stung by criticism from the families of 9/11 victims, is permitted to assess the impact of building a mosque at the site.