Last week the developer of the perpetually controversial Islamic community center and mosque, Sharif El-Gamal, confirmed the identity of one of the eight members of a real estate partnership that paid $4.8 million last year for the old Burlington Coat Factor on Park Place, where the center will be built. The man's name is Hisham Elzanaty; he's a U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent who owns medical companies that operate out of a building in The Bronx. Who is this guy and how much money has he given to terrorists? Conspiring minds want to know!
Straight out of the gate, the press immediately found fodder for the anti-mosque cannons. Fox 5 was the first to note that Elzanaty gave over $6,000 to the biggest Islamic charity in America, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. That charity raised millions of dollars from Americans in the '90s, and the AP reports that the group told donors the money "would fund schools, orphanages and social welfare programs. But two years after Elzanaty made the donation, the U.S. government froze the foundation's assets and accused it of acting as a fundraiser for Hamas."
After indicting the charity's founders, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the case was "not a reflection on the well-meaning people who may have donated funds to the foundation." Certainly all the mosque opponents will remember Ashcroft's nuanced qualification. Meanwhile, Fox 5 is on the trail of Elzanaty's money, and has been calling various politicians who've accepted his campaign donations over the years. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is among the recipients, and she now says she'll donate the equivalent of Elzanaty's contribution to a children's charity. Elzanaty also made a $1,000 campaign contribution to presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008, but the White House has not said what the president intends to do with that money.
Elzanaty's company has also been sued by State Farm for unnecessary tests related to automobile accidents that would maximize the insurance payout. According to court documents obtained by the Post, Elzanaty was accused in 2007 of taking the insurance company for a $1.8 million ride. And CBS 2 reports that Elzanaty's facilities are also "on the radar" of New York State's Medicaid inspector general. A previous audit done by the inspector general for 2004 and 2005 sought reimbursement for more than $331,000 due to “missing documentation” or “no documentation” to support the claims. Well! We can't wait to find out who the other seven big mosque donors are!