Bloomberg's office: Inviting imam linked to 1993 WTC bombing to City Hall was mistake

by Celeste Katz and Adam Lisberg, NY Daily News

The mayor’s office admits it goofed when it invited a Brooklyn imam linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to City Hall for a Muslim community meeting on Wednesday.

Siraj Wahhaj was one of nine Islamic leaders who met with Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly over fears of a backlash against local Muslims after the Fort Hood massacre.

The imam’s past wound up overshadowing the get-together and the mayor’s red-faced staff later said Wahhaj should never have been there in the first place.
In 1995, Wahhaj was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing - meaning he was never charged but the feds believe he had some connection.

Later that year, Wahhaj appeared as a defense witness in the trial of blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of trying to blow up the Lincoln Tunnel and the United Nations.

“If we were aware of his full background,” an aide said, “it would have been done differently.”

Wahhaj heads the Masjid al Taqwa mosque in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and presides over fellow African-American converts to Islam.

“He was invited by staff because he leads a large mosque in Brooklyn,” mayoral spokesman Stu Loeser said earlier in the night. “The mayor had never met him and wasn’t aware of his background.”

“We’re trying to reach out to leaders in various Muslim communities throughout the city, because we’re trying to prevent the sort of anti-Muslim backlash we’ve seen elsewhere” after the Fort Hood shootings, Loeser said.

The accused killer in the Army base massacre was a Muslim Army major.

“If the mayor had any discomfort he would not have invited me,” Wahhaj said after the meeting. “Of course, he knew who I was. The mayor is very smart.”

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Kelly had not previously met Wahhaj.

“It was a good, frank conversation between the mayor and the police commissioner and all the other participants,” Wahhaj said.

Wahhaj was last in the news last month when a jury threw out his $5 million lawsuit against Curtis Sliwa for claiming the mosque had run guns to Canada.

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