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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Middle East

Gretchen Gailey

Washington, DC

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Secretary Clinton Approves of Imam’s Trip

August 11, 2010 - 5:57 PM | by: Gretchen Gailey

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is aware of and approves of the State Department-funded trip to the Middle East for the controversial imam of the Ground Zero mosque, according to state department sources.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is considered controversial for his refusal to acknowledge Hamas as a terrorist organization as well as for a comment he made to “60 Minutes” in 2001 when he said that U.S. foreign policy could be considered an “accessory” to the 9/11 attacks.

On Wednesday, the State Department revealed portions of Rauf’s itinerary. He will be visiting Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. However, the officials would not say with whom  he was going to meet with or give any other details of his trip itinerary, only that he would be traveling with his wife.

The State Department maintains that Rauf has gone on similar trips like this one before to promote the role of religion in the United States as it pertains to Muslims. “Our relationship with Imam Feisal goes back to 2007. He traveled earlier this year. His travel is not connected to the question to the government before New York City. He’s going to participate in the program.”

Currently, Rauf is fighting to build a mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero that would be part of a 13-story, $100 million Islamic center that would feature a 500-seat auditorium, a swimming pool, and a gym.

Several groups have spoken out against the proximity of the mosque to what many consider hallowed ground. The American Center for Law and Justice has said they will file a letter of protest with the State Department demanding the government no longer sponsor his trip.

“This shows a tremendous lack of judgment on behalf of the State Department; and for the American taxpayers to be funding this global journey is not only wrong, but deeply offensive,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel the for the group.

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