NEW YORK – The couple at the center of the proposed Islamic community center and mosque near the World Trade Center site have been receiving threatening messages for months, but they've been working with the police department.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Monday that Daisy Khan and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf have a contact at the department to deal with the threats. Kelly declined to discuss the details Monday.
"I don't' want to get into the specifics, but we have spoken to the principals and they have a point of contact with the department, if necessary," he said.
Khan said during a town hall debate on Islam broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that her and her husband's lives were under threat. Police said she had received threatening telephone messages.
Khan is the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement.
Rauf is to be a spiritual leader of the proposed 16-story Islamic center and mosque planned for lower Manhattan two blocks north of where the terrorist attack Sept. 11, 2001, killed nearly 2,800 people.
The proposed site has upset some relatives of Sept. 11 victims and stirred nationwide debate and angry demands that the project be moved. Critics say an Islamic institution is too close to the site of mass murder by Islamic extremists, while supporters of the center say religious freedom should be protected.
Those involved in building the site say it would be modeled on the YMCA or Jewish Community Center, with programming for the entire city, and would include a mosque.
Developer Sharif El-Gamal last week released preliminary sketches of the planned Islamic center. He said groundbreaking is probably two to three years away.
Khan, speaking in late July at an NYPD conference before Ramadan, said she had been working with the Hate Crimes Task Force and lauded the department's efforts to keep her and her husband safe. She said at the time that she had received threatening messages and letters, and the task force helped her take precautions.