A retired New York City firefighter who directed first responders into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, called plans to build a mosque at ground zero “psychological terrorism” in an interview with Newsmax in New York.
As President Obama was addressing the United Nations General Assembly just a few miles away, Vincent Forras told Newsmax that the plans of Imam Rauf to erect an Islamic center in a building where the landing gear of one of the planes that struck the twin towers impacted was nothing less than “an additional attack” on America.
“I’m not one of these guys who watches my country go down the tubes,” says Forras. “I have a son who’s a serving U.S. Marine. I can’t let down my fellow firefighters and first responders who died that day by not saying anything. I am certainly not going quietly into the night and watch this victory mosque go up on holy ground.”
Forras and other firefighters and first responders are suing Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf and Cordoba House and its related commercial entities with the aim of halting construction on the mosque and uncovering the sources of funding for the project, which the Imam has refused to disclose until now.
“We are hoping through the discovery process to see where the money is coming from,” Forras says. “If we find that the money is coming from people with ties to terrorism, or from foreign countries with ties to terrorism, that should be enough to shut it down right there.”
Imam Rauf and the Cordoba Initiative have announced plans to buy the building at 247 Church Street in lower Manhattan for $4.5 million, even though it has been appraised at close to $32 million. “We’d like to know how the Imam managed to do that,” Forras adds.
Forras is being represented by Larry Klayman, president of Freedom Watch, a law firm that also is suing Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on behalf of an Iranian dissident who died under torture in an Iranian jail.
“The suit alleges that the mosque is a public nuisance to the neighborhood as well as a security threat,” Klayman tells Newsmax. “It also alleges negligent behavior on the part of Imam Rauf and the other defendants with the intent to inflict emotional distress on New Yorkers and specifically on first responders and their families.”
Klayman notes that Forras was “still pulling out pieces of glass from his back” that had lodged there during the rescue attempts, and that many of the first responders have been diagnosed with severe psychological distress and a variety of life-threatening physical ailments directly caused by their exposure to the toxic fires caused by the 9/11 attacks.
“Building a $100 million Islamic center at ground zero, the site where nearly 3,000 Americans and other persons were killed by jihadists on Sept. 11, 2001, is a monument of the jihadist’s victory over American ideals of freedom and democracy,” the complaint alleges, as well as “a desecration of the terrible sacrifice made by those innocents attacked.”
The suit also argues that Imam Rauf’s actions including his “ties to terrorist groups” constitute an “assault” on Forras and other first responders.
“The imam is now claiming that if the mosque is not built, it is likely to provoke the jihadis to launch another attack on America,” Klayman tells Newsmax. “In addition to the emotional distress such claims have caused, we have reason to believe they also constitute a direct threat to my clients and their families.”
Forras and Klayman filed the class action lawsuit on Sept. 10 in New York Supreme Court, choosing that venue in the hope that an elected judge would be more responsive to their claim than the predominantly liberal judges of the federal district court for the Southern District of New York.
“It’s important to realize how many people did respond on ground zero on 9/11,” Forras says. “It affected almost a half million lives directly here in New York. Absolutely directly. So when they say 70 percent of the American public is against this, I think you are in the high 90s for the first responders and their families.
“I’m losing more of my friends every day. Streets are being named after them all the time. For those of us who served, having to deal with this additional attack is a form of psychological terrorism.”
Forras rejected charges by supporters of the ground zero mosque that he or his fellow first responders were “Islamophobic.”
“I would have been okay with a multi-denominational center in the heart of ground zero. I would have been absolutely fine with that,” he said.
But he pointed out that constructing the mosque at ground zero had little to do with Islam or freedom of religion. “There are more than 100 mosques in New York City, including one just six blocks away from ground zero.”
Every day at noon, traffic on Madison avenue is blocked for half an hour as Muslim office workers spread out their prayer mats in the street to answer the call to prayer.
Referring to the violent response by Muslims around the world to threats by an unknown Florida preacher to burn Korans on the anniversary of 9/11 this year, Forras said that Muslims were setting up a double standard.
“Whether you agree with him or not, as an American he has rights to do that under our Constitution. I watch people burn the flag, and I hate the fact that they do it. But they do. They burn Bibles. Why are we bowing to the threat of violence against us by those who wish us dead anyhow, and letting that control our every move?”
Forras made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate this year in Connecticut as a tea party candidate, but said that he specifically decided to hold off the 9/11 mosque lawsuit until the primary was over and he had lost, so that no one could accuse him of seeking publicity for his political campaign.
“I have no political agenda,” he said.
Since retiring after 9/11, Forras has dedicated himself to charitable work, and runs the Gear Up Foundation to assist 9/11 families.
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