NEW YORK (CBS 2) – New and disturbing questions are mounting about the source of funding for the so-called Ground Zero mosque and cultural center.
The developer of the mosque near Ground Zero said he’s picky about where he gets his money.
“We will not take money from Iran, we will not take money from Hamas,” Sharif El-Gamal said.
Well, it turns out that he might not be that picky.
The man who reportedly put up a “significant” amount of the $4.8 million El-Gamal used to buy the mosque’s Park Place building owns Bronx medical companies that were charged with bilking State Farm Insurance of over $1.7 million by filing reportedly bogus claims for treating car accident victims.
The 2007 civil “RICO Fraud Against Insurance Company” case filed by State Farm names El-Gamal’s money man, Hisham Elzanaty, as one of the defendants, along with three companies he is charged with fraudulently incorporating.
State Farm charged that Elzanaty and his companies knew that “the consultations and tests were performed pursuant to a fraudulent, predetermined protocol designed to maximize the charges to State Farm and other insurers, not because they were medically necessary or designed to benefit…the insured.”
As opposition to the mosque has mounted, so too have questions about where the money is coming from. Some 71 percent of New Yorkers told pollsters this week that they want State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate the sources of the funding.
“Because I think the terrorists think that’s their trophy down there,” Greenwich Village resident Jimmy Reardon said.
El-Gamal and Elzanaty have not been linked to terror groups, but Elzanaty apparently donated $6,000 to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development – a group that was shut down by the feds because of its ties to terrorism.
A lawyer for State Farm told CBS 2 he couldn’t talk because the case was settled confidentially, but said, “the court filings should tell the story.”
Elzanaty and his attorney didn’t return calls seeking comment, nor did El-Gamal.