WASHINGTON D.C — The Federal Government is being accused of renting office space from a mosque that allegedly supports terrorism. The blogosphere has erupted. Some in Congress want to order an investigation. Channel Two's Scott McFarlane investigated these allegations and you might be surprised by what he found.
Feds May Be Renting From Radicals
The U.S. Census is leasing a 6,600 square-foot corner of an old, back-road building in Virginia. Land records that Channel Two obtained confirmed that this location is owned by the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and rented by the Census Bureau. LINK: HIJRAH.org LINK: Investigative Report on Terrorism
Stephen Landman, of the Investigative Project on Terror, said, "Before there is a contract signed, they should know who they're dealing with."
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik showed McFarlane around the worship area and even acknowledged that Dal Al-Hijrah is not a typical Islamic center. It has been a hotbed of controversy. Its worshipers have included two of the Sept. 11th hijackers and Nadal Hassan, the man believed responsible for the massacre at Fort Hood. Most alarming to critics is its former Imam, Anwar Al-Awlaki.
Al-Awlaki is now considered a leading terrorist recruiter and is believed to have plotted with the would-be underwear-bomber and the Times Square bomber. Now he is a wanted man by U.S authorities and is on the loose in Yemen, U.S officials believe.
"If you have one branch of government saying this is a terrorist organization and another branch giving them a half-million dollars a year, there is a disconnect here," said Landman.
The mosque said it collects $500,000 a year in rent from the Census Bureau. They accuse bloggers and watchdogs of race baiting and state that they long ago disowned Awlaki.
"After leaving America and going back to Yemen, he became another person. We shouldn't be held guilty because a former employee has run amok," said Imam Johari Abdul-Malik.
Channel Two's investigation confirmed the Census is trying to bail out of this lease early, concerned by the controversy. A spokesman told us, "Taxpayer funds are being diverted to something not supported by taxpayers."
Congressional leaders are calling for investigation of the Government Services Administration, the government agency in charge of federal leases. Lawmakers want to investigate potential problems with the background checks the agencies perform on business partners.
"We have made clear to our community that we are not in favor of that kind of behavior," said Johari.
The Census Bureau tells Channel Two that there have been no incidents or problems inside the building. The agency says it only became aware of the controversy involving the mosque after getting press questions about it. A spokesman confirms the controversy is one reason it is trying to opt out of its lease early, by the end of September.
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