The imam at the center of the debate over the mosque and Islamic center being built near ground zero said the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has in its murder of non-Muslims, according to a provocative new tape that has surfaced on the Internet. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the effort to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, told an Australian audience in July 2005 that U.N sanctions against Iraq had led to the death of more than 500,000 children.
But the group that procured the tape, the Investigative Project on Terrorism,
counters in its fact check that studies have generally showed no more than 50,000 deaths could be attributed to the sanctions, which were brought on by the dictator Saddam Hussein.
In a taped speech now available online, Rauf makes a number of statements that would seem to counter his image as a moderate in the U.S. Muslim community.
"We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims,” he says at one point. “You may remember that the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it."
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Rauf went on to recommend Michael Moore's provocative documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11." Asked why Muslims commit suicide bombings, Rauf downplayed the role of Islam and instead placed them in a political framework, suggesting that in some cases they may be a legitimate military tactic:
“ . . . What makes people, in my opinion, commit suicide for political reasons have their origins in politics and political objectives and worldly objectives rather than other worldly objectives, he said. "But the psychology of human beings and the brittleness of the human condition and how many of us have thought about taking our own lives, we may be jilted, had a bad relationship, you know, didn't get tenure at the university, failed an important course, 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."
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