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Cordoba, "Al-Andalus" and the "Ground Zero Mosque"

September 1, 2010


Feisal Abdul Rauf is the chairman of the so-called "Cordoba Initiative", which officially describes itself as "a non-partisan and multi-national project that works with state and non-state actors to improve Muslim-West relations." But the New York imam now plans the construction of a highly controversial 13-story "Cordoba House," a mosque/Islamic Center, just two blocks away from "Ground Zero," the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York.

Why do the initiators use the name Cordoba?

Cordoba is a city in Southern Spain which was once occupied by Muslims. It was then the glorious capital of the Muslim caliphate (Islamic theocracy or rule) and known as "the Mecca of the West." The name then given to the Spanish territories under Muslim rule (711-1492) was "Al-Andalus." Between 1609 and 1614, 296,000 Muslims were expelled from Spain, back to North Africa where they had originally come from.

What is imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's real agenda? Establishing a kind of Muslim caliphate in part of the U.S.? He is a known supporter of Shari'a law. Hamas, designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization, insisted Muslims "have to build" the mosque near Ground Zero. "Muslims around the world, including, those who live in this country, are united in a common cause," Hamas leader and co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar said. Abdul Rauf refused to describe Hamas as a terrorist organization earlier this summer. Hamas, too, wants to establish an Islamic caliphate. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that supported the Nazi cause between 1939 and 1945. There are number of Muslim Brotherhood front organizations in the United States. One of these is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR also welcomed the plans to build a huge Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero. Another Muslim Brotherhood front organization in the U.S. is the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). NAIT played a key role in funding Islamist activities in the U.S.

Today, radical Muslims seek to re-conquer and re-Islamisize (Southern) Spain, both through mass immigration from Muslim lands (North Africa, Middle East, Pakistan) and violent jihad. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, for example, said in January 2004 that Spain "had once been part of our (Islamic) world, when we used to truly adhere to Islam. That country is the lost Al-Andalus." And his deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri said in September 2007: "Reconquering Al-Andalus is the duty of the Islamic nation in general and of you (the Al-Qaeda fighters) in particular." The two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla located in North Morocco (the Maghreb) must equally be liberated.

Muslim demands to worship in Spain's Cordoba Cathedral

Cordoba, of course, has to be liberated, too. Certainly not all Muslims espouse the concept of violent jihad, though. The eventual objective of liberating Southern Spain could be achieved through a process of gradual re-Islamization, for example. The rapidly growing Muslim community in Spain is aware of the fact that they are gaining ground at the expense of the traditional Catholic Church. Muslims in Spain and elsewhere are now lobbying for permission to worship in Cordoba Cathedral, once a mosque and still being considered by these Muslims a holy site.

The British "Independent" reported in January 2007 that the Spanish bishops fear a rebirth of the former Islamic Kingdom. They are perturbed by "ambitious plans to recreate the city of Cordoba – once the heartland of the ancient Islamic Kingdom of Al-Andalus – as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe – and by the construction of ostantatious mosques."

The president of the Islamic Council of Spain, Mansur Escudero (a Muslim convert, by the way), has been pressuring authorities to turn the Cathedral of Cordoba into a "multi-religious" center where Muslims can pray towards Mecca, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported in January 2007. On another occasion he said: "Al-Andalus will continue being Al-Andalus for Muslims of all ages. It is there; we have created it. Here we have our dead, who remain alive, awaiting Resurrection Day." The Islamic Council even wants to launch an "Islamophobia Observatory."

Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa endorsed these demands in October 2007 when he attended an OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) conference against "Intolerance and Discrimination" in Cordoba, Southern Spain. Muslims must be allowed to pray in the Cordoba mosque/cathedral "to demonstrate our religious coexistence," he said. Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratimos was unwilling to cede to these demands saying it was up to the Catholic Church to decide whether or not Muslims should be allowed to worship in the cathedral. Moratimos knew that Juan Jose Asenjo Pelegrina, the archbishop of Cordoba at the time, was totally opposed to the idea of sharing the use of the cathedral with Muslim worshippers. This would only serve to generate confusion, the archbishop argued. Moratimos agreed: "What the Catholic Church did was quite correct," he said.

If the Islamic Council of Spain and the Arab League would really have been interested in religious tolerance and pluralism why did they not simultaneously defend the right of Christians to pray in the Aya Sophia Mosque, which once (until 1453) served as the Cathedral of Constantinople, today's Istanbul? Indeed, Christians in Muslim countries such as Turkey are still subject to harassment and discrimination. There is no religious freedom whatsoever in other Muslim countries – in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, for example.

In November 2007, the meddlesome Arab League even demanded that Spain give up its sovereignty over the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. Spain, though, refuses to do so. "There is nothing to negotiate about," Spanish deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernándes de la Vega said.

Meeting in Cordoba in June 2006, the Saudi sponsored Muslim World League (MWL) adopted a resolution that Spain should grant Spanish nationality to the descendants of those Muslims who had been expelled from Spain in the 17th century. (Some of these descendants are currently living in Venezuela and the United States.)

"WTC Imam" Feisal Abdul Rauf's double tongue

Militant Muslims living in Western countries sometimes pretend they are in fact moderates. When they address Western audiences in English, French, Spanish or German, they often avoid making harsh statements. They invoke the lofty principles of religious freedom, coexistence, mutual tolerance, understanding, non-violence, etc. But when they are among trusted friends and allies and are speaking in Arabic or in another native tongue (Pashto, Farsi, etc.). they often defend jihadists and suicide bombers. Even Al-Qaeda instructed terrorists operating in the West to behave and dress as Westerners, and so deceive the enemy. (Some of them even bought adult magazines.)

"Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a moderate clergyman," writes Newsweek editor-in-chief Fareed Zakaria. "He has said one or two things that strike me as overly critical – but it's stuff you could read on The Huffington Post (a liberal American news website, V.) any day. On Islam, his main subject, Rauf's views are clear; he denounces all terrorism – as he did last week, publicly. He speaks of the need for Muslims to live peacefully with all other religions. He emphasizes the commonalities among all faiths. He advocates equal rights for women, and argues against laws that in any way punish non-Muslims. His last book 'What's Right with Islam is what's Right with America,' argues that the United States is actually an ideal society because it encourages diversity and promotes freedom for individuals and for all religions."

Sounds very nice indeed, doesn't it? Yet, Zakaria's admission that Rauf "has said one or two things that strike me as overly critical," is an understatement, to say the least. Just one or two things? Steven Emerson's Washington based Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) traced thirteen hours of taped speeches made by "moderate clergyman" Feisal Abdul Rauf. Western audiences should be appalled instead of deluding themselves into a naive view of reality. In one of the speeches quoted by "IPT News" Rauf says: ""We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al-Qaeda had on its hand of innocent Muslims. You may remember that the U.S.-led sanctions had led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children."

Forget about the numerous Muslim suicide bombers who wreak havoc in the Muslim world and elsewhere. Forget about the countless innocent Muslim women, who were murdered by Al-Qaeda, Iranian and Arab Muslim fundamentalists, the numerous so-called "honor crimes" in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Forget about those cruel monsters called "Taliban" who killed or mutilated numerous defenseless teen-age girls just because their courageous parents chose to send them to school. (Mind you, the murderous killers of the equally monstrous Cambodian Khmer Rouge killed countless of defenseless people just for wearing spectacles; they claimed to be Marxists, by the way.)

"More Muslims have been killed by the likes of Al-Qaeda than by any foreign power," says Irshad Manji, a Muslim herself and author of the book "The Trouble with Islam Today." In Afghanistan the Taliban even killed Western aid workers and doctors. They now demand that Western aid to flood-ridden Pakistan be stopped immediately. They recently attacked a Kabul based school for girls with poison gas. (It was by no means the first time such an attack had occurred.) Their ideology of death and destruction reminds me of what Marxist philosopher Karl Marx once described as "Verelendung," a deliberate policy of mass impoverishment resulting in a communist led revolt of the people against their leaders. The Islamists and the Islamist terrorists did learn a lot from radical communists.

New York imam Feisal Abdul Rauf turns out to be an apologist for the suicide killers from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Yemen, North Africa, the Taliban and Hamas by blaiming the United States for everything. The United States has supported authoritarian regimes, and it's understandable that people in those nations would take action into their own hands, he said. "Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on paper but when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism? It's hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians, that does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of U.S. support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous ways, how else do people get attention?" "There's a host of reasons why people feel so depressed with themselves that they are willing to contemplate ending their own lives. And if you can access those individuals and deploy them for your own worldly objectives, this is exactly what has happened in much of the Muslim world."

IPT News notes that Rauf also seems to justify terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, London or Madrid, "by equating hitting civilians with political objectives."

Osama bin Laden, by the way, said similar things in a number of his own speeches. For example, on April 15, 2004, in his message to the peoples of Europe: "In what creed are your dead considered innocent but ours worthless? (…) Reciprocal treatment is part of justice. (…) Your leaders and their followers (…) show contempt for peoples' blood and minds through such deceit, but it only means that your blood will continue to be shed. If one looks at the murders that are still going on in our countries and yours, an important truth becomes clear, which is that we are both suffering injustice at the hands of your leaders, who send your sons to our countries, despite their objections, to kill and be killed."

On Israel, Rauf shares the "Palestinian Islamic Jihad" vision of a one-state solution, as being "a more coherent one than a two-state solution."

The principle of the separation of Church ("Mosque") and State essential to freedom and democracy

The principle of the separation of Church and State or religion and state affairs (a secular society, that is) is essential to Western freedom and democracy. It was Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote in 1848: "Hence any alliance with any political power whatsoever is bound to be burdensome for religion. It does not need their support in order to live, and in serving it may die."

Islam does not recognize this fundamental principle. Rulers of Muslim countries accept one religion only, Islam. Religious minorities are tolerated at best. Conversions from Islam to Christianity or Hinduism are strictly prohibited. On the other hand, Christians are often encouraged to convert to Islam. Islam claims to be a superior religion that prevails over politics, the state and all other religions. The so-called Islamic Caliphate that militant Muslims want to establish is nothing but a totalitarian state ruled by Shari'a law where Jews and Christians will be persecuted. A kind of "Third Reich." (In Nazi Germany Hitler described himself as "a prophet" whose God-given mission was to kill all the Jews.)

A Dutch politician named Henk Bleker, chairman of the Dutch "Christian Democratic Appeal" (Party), recently said something quite remarkable on Dutch TV. "Could it be that an Interior Minister would open a mosque? I would say, yes." Unfortunately, the two journalists who interviewed him, Andries Knevel and Tijs van den Brink, failed to confront Mr. Bleker with the question how such a view could be reconciled with the principle of the separation of Church and State. Indeed, Christian Democrats in Europe should know better. It is not the duty of the secular state to open mosques or churches. Another clear violation of the principle of the separation of Church (religion) and State is, in my view, the ill-considered decision by the U.S. State Department to finance the 15-day Middle East tour by the controversial New York imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. There is no doubt Rauf will misuse U.S. tax payer's money to raise money for his own $100 million Ground Zero Mosque project. His finances are reportedly a mess. Rauf's Cordoba Initiative "has failed to list almost $ 100,000 in charitable donations since 2007, federal tax records show," IPT News reported.

Malaysia: a hotbed of Islamic extremism

Mr. Rauf may also have received money from dubious Malaysian sources. "Cordoba" has an office in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malysia and he surely was there at the end of July. Forbes columnist Claudia Rosett managed to call him in his Malaysian office but having heard that she "had questions about his funding, he was suddenly unavailable again. 'I'm in an important meeting now,' he said. 'I can't take this call.' And he was gone," Claudia Rosett reported. Kuwaiti born Feisal Abdul Rauf has long standing ties to Malaysia. He was educated in England, Egypt, Malaysia and the United States.

Both Malaysia and Egypt are hotbeds of Islamic extremism (Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, Jamaah Islamiya, etc.). Prior to the 9/11 attacks in the United States two Saudi born 9/11 suicide hijackers, Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi, attended an Al-Qaeda strategy summit in Kuala Lumpur in January 2000.

IPT News reports that Rauf "was listed as a participant in several meetings of the Malaysia-based Perdana Global Peace Organisation, according to the group's website. Perdana is led by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Mohamad was prime minister from 1981 to 2003. Shortly before he left office, he told a gathering at the Organization of the Islamic Conference that Jews rule the world by proxy. Mohamad said he was not anti-Semitic but opposed 'Jews who kill Muslims' and 'the Jews who support the killers of Muslims.'" I wouldn't be very surprised if it turned out that this Jew-hater is imam Rauf's best friend in Malaysia.

Emerson Vermaat is a former TV reporter in the Netherlands specialized in crime and terrorism. He was the first journalist in Europe to write about Osama bin Laden's role in international terrorism. His latest book is on Heinrich Himmler, describing how Himmler embraced Islam and how Himmler's SS and today's suicide bombers share an ideology of death and destruction. Website:


Cordoba Initiative, Healing the Relationship between the Islamic World and the West (

Ulrich Haarman, Geschichte der Arabischen Welt (München: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1994), p. 321, 322 ("Das Ende des Islams in Al-Andalus"). The fertility rate among Muslims was much higher than among Christians, partly due to polygamous relationships. "Der Geburtenüberschuss der Moriskos übertraf bei weitem den der christianos…"

New York Post, August 16, 2010 ("Hamas nod for Ground Zero Mosque").

IPT News/Counterterrorism Blog, August 8, 2007 ("CAIR identified by the FBI as part of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee").

P. David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry, Muslim Mafia. Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America (Los Angeles: WND Books, 2009), p. 297, 350 (secret FBI document on NAIT), p. 405, footnote 13 (FBI memo marked "secret").

Bruce Lawrence (Ed.), Messages to the World. The Statements of Osama bin Laden (London/New York: Verso, 2005), p. 227 (Al-Andalus), p. 234 ("To the peoples of Europe").

El Mundo (Madrid), September 21, 2007, p. 30 ("El 'numero dos' de Al Qaeda llama a 'limpiar Magreb de los hijos de España y de Francia'"); El País (Madrid), September 21, 2007, p. 3 ("Eliminad a España y Francia del Magreb").

El Mundo, April 21, 2009, p. 14 ("Implantacion geográfica del islam en España"); El Mundo, February 12, 2009, p. 17 ("Los musulmanes ganan la fe que han perdido los católicos").

The Independent (London), January 5, 2007 ("Spanish bishops fear rebirth of Islamic Kingdom").

Catholic News Agency (CNA), January 8, 2007 ("Lay groups back decision of bishop to resist Muslim attempts to share use of Cordoba Cathedral").

Geoff Pingree and Lisa Abend, Spains's New Muslims. Converts have become the agreeable face of Spanish Islam, in: The Walrus (Canada), September 2007; Emerson Vermaat, The Rapid Re-Islamization of Southern Spain ("Al-Andalus"), in: Militant Islam Monitor, August 4, 2008.

El Mundo, October 10, 2007, p. 22 ("La Liga Arabe reivindica el uso para los musulmanes de la mezquita de Córdoba"). Moratimos: "Lo que haga la Iglesia Católica estará bien hecho."

El Mundo, November 9, 2007, p. 21 ("Marruecos condiciona una 'buena relación con España a un diálogo sobre Ceuta y Melilla"). De la Vega: "No hay nada que negociar." "La Liga Arabe brindó su 'apoyo total' a los 'derechos legitimos' de Rabat sobre Ceuta y Melilla.

Keep in mind that Morocco is still a rather backward society with over 40 percent of the Moroccan population being illiterate. Most Moroccan immigrants in Europe originate from backward and traditional rural areas in Northern Morocco. Western tourists who pay brief visits to major cities such as Rabat, Marrakech or Casablanca may get a different impression, though. These tourist attractions are not at all representative for the country as a whole.

El Mundo, June 21, 2007, p. 22 ("Los musulmanes invocan las tesis de Zapatero para reivindicar la memoria histórica andalusí"). "Observatorio internacional contra la islamofobia." Muslim World League conference in Cordoba. Fareed Zakaria, The Real Ground Zero, in: Newsweek (international edition), August 16, 2010, p. 5.

CNN Europe/GPS (Fareed Zakaria), August 15, 2010 (Fareed Zakaria's interview with Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

IPT News, August 23, 2010 ("Rauf Lecture Reveals Radicalism").

De Telegraaf (Amsterdam), August 24, 2010, p. 11 ("WTC-imam ontmaskerd"). "In die dertien uur toespraken heeft hij niet één keer de schuld voor de aanslagen neergelegd bij moslim militanten." Rauf failed to blame Muslim militants for the 9/11 attacks.

Algemeen Dagblad (Rotterdam), August 30, 2010 ("Meisjesschool in Kabul bestookt met gifgas"). Girls school in Kabul attacked with poison gas.

Marx-Engels Werke (MEW) (East Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1974), vol. 23, p. 674: "Kapitalakkumulation schafft die ständige Tendenz den erreichten Lebensstandard zu drücken ('absolute' Verelendung)."

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Anchor Books, 1969), p. 298 (First published in the 19th century.)

Emerson Vermaat, Heinrich Himmler en de Cultus van de Dood (Heinrich Himmler and the Cult of Death) (Soesterberg: Aspekt Publishers, 2010), p. 179-194 (authentic quotes from Hitler's own speeches describing himself as "a prophet" who rightly predicted that the "Jewish race" would be exterminated in Europe); see also Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (London/Melbourne: Radius Book/Hutchinson, 1972; new English edition), p. 60: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

Knevel&vandenbrink (EO TV, Netherlands), August 25, 2010. Henk Bleker: "Kan 't zo zijn dat een minister van Binnenlandse Zaken een moskee opent? Ik zou zeggen: ja." EO started as an organization of conservative evangelicals in 1970. About twenty five years later they began to embrace "multiculturalism" and the powerful immigration lobby. I strongly opposed this trend, also in several of my TV reports and books, but was effectively outmanoeuvred in 2004. In 2007, I published a study on the origins and roots of EO: De Evangelische Omroep: Ontstaansgeschiedenis (Aspekt Publishers, Soesterberg). I personally knew and interviewed all the founders when they were still alive. I write on page 120 that these founders strongly criticized the leftist "1960s" elite in Holland and that they would probably also oppose "multiculturalism and the growing Muslim influence in Europe," if they were alive today. Only one of those founders, the rev. H.J. Hegger, is still alive and he had nothing but praise for my book. Andries Knevel was and still is one of the few EO journalists who spoke rather respectfully of the murdered Dutch columnist and politician Pim Fortuyn. Most EO radio and TV reporters hated Fortuyn who was a vocal critic of multiculturalism and growing Muslim influence in Holland.

International Herald Tribune, August 20, 2010 ("American imam visits Mideast on U.S.-financed good-will trip").

IPT News, August 26, 2010 ("The Tangled Web of GZM Imam's Organizations Raises Questions"). "However, federal tax records show the Cordoba Initiative has not listed contributions from at least two charitable foundations that have supported its activites." "The missing donations are troubling." "Cordoba has failed to list almost $ 100,000 in charitable donations since 2007." Also: Quote on former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Forbes, July 30, 2010 ("Where in the World is Imam Feisal?"). Claudia Rosett's column.

The 9/11 Commision Report (New York/London: W.W. Norton, 2004), p. 267-272 (Mihdhar and Hazmi in Malaysia).

© 2010 Emerson Vermaat. All rights reserved.

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at