NEW YORK – The ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee said Monday he favors an investigation into the funding of a proposed mosque near ground zero.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Rep. Peter King raised concerns about the sources of funding for the proposed $100 million mosque, just blocks away from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, where nearly 3,000 Americans died at the hands of Islamic terrorists.
"It's a house of worship, but we are at war with al-Qaida," King told the AP. "I think the 9/11 families have a right to know where the funding comes from; I think there are significant questions."
The mosque is a project of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Institute, which promotes cross-cultural understanding between Islam and the West. Cordoba's director, Imam Faisel Abdul Rauf, has refused to disclose the sources of funding for the mosque and once suggested in a television interview that U.S. policies contributed to the 9/11 attacks.
King's views differ sharply from those of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said Monday it would be un-American to investigate the mosque. Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, has backed the mosque since the project came under development, as do numerous other community and political leaders including Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for governor.
King is a supporter of Republican Rick Lazio's campaign for governor. Lazio opposes the mosque and has called on Cuomo to look into its funding. Lazio was scheduled to testify Tuesday on the mosque at a hearing of the New York City Landmarks Commission.
Cuomo has said he would investigate the mosque if there is evidence of wrongdoing or criminal behavior but that no such evidence has been put forth.
Even though a mosque is supposed to be a religious setting, ground zero may not be an appropriate spot for this or any proposed mosque, King said.
"Right at this moment in history, it's bad form to put it there," he said. "There are things you are allowed to do, but that aren't appropriate to do."
Associated Press writer Sara Kugler Frazier contributed to this report.