NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — One of the leaders of the effort to build an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center says someone threatened to kill him during the furor over the project.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf made the comment Wednesday at an annual pre-Ramadan conference held by the New York Police Department.

He served as Imam of Masjid al-Farah, a mosque in Tribeca, From 1983 to 2009 .

Rauf said he had to change homes during the incident, and praised the department’s help.

He said that despite criticism over NYPD surveillance of Muslims, he believes the department is doing a good job.

Rauf helped come up with the idea for the center. He served as its public face, promoting it amid fierce controversy over its location.

He now has a reduced role in the project. He says it is still moving forward but nothing has yet been built.

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