New York: Republican candidate attacks Feisal Abdul Rauf as ‘a terrorist-sympathizing imam’

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio is appearing in a new ad in which the he labels the imam behind the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” a terrorist sympathizer and asks, “who is really behind it?”

“New Yorkers have been through enough,” Lazio says in the spot. “Now a terrorist-sympathizing imam wants to build a $100 million mosque near ground zero. Where is this money coming from? Who’s really behind it?”

The only evidence Lazio offers that the imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is “terrorist-sympathizing” is the imam’s comment that U.S. foreign policy was an “accessory” to the Sept. 11 attacks in a 2001 “60 Minutes” interview.

“I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened,” Rauf told CBS’ Ed Bradley in that interview. Pressed to explain the “accessory” comment, he replied: “Because we’ve been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A.”

The imam said in the same interview that “Fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam.” He is currently on a U.S State Department sponsored trip to the Mideast to foster religious understanding, and made similar trips under the Bush administration.

CBS News, 20 August 2010

Update:  See “Mr Lazio’s bid for attention”, New York Times, 23 August 2010

And here is another, web-based Lazio ad: