Donations totaling $6,050 by a key investor in the proposed Ground Zero mosque to a Texas-based charity later shut down for financing Hamas is attracting scrutiny in New York.
Charles Leaf, a reporter for Fox 5 in New York, first reported on the 1999 donations by Hisham Elzanaty Thursday evening. The money went to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), then operating legally but already the subject of law enforcement and media investigations.
For example, its financial and family connections to Hamas Deputy Political Director Mousa Abu Marzook had been documented three years earlier by the Dallas Morning News. The report also cited the presence of Hamas leaders at HLF rallies and fundraisers.
The U.S. Treasury Department shut down HLF in 2001 and the charity and eight leaders were indicted in 2004. Jurors convicted the five defendants who remained in the U.S. and HLF of conspiring to provide material support to Hamas in 2008.
Elzanaty holds a "significant investment" in the property near Ground Zero where plans call for a $100 million, 13-story mosque and cultural center. He also is the guarantor of a separate project with Sharif el-Gamal, who owns the Burlington Coat Factory property where the mosque is to be built.
Elzanaty's attorneys say his HLF donation was meant to help orphans and that he didn't know about connections between the charity and Hamas.
On Friday, the New York Post followed the story, citing a court record of Elzanaty's contributions provided by the Investigative Project on Terrorism. The exhibit is available online through the Dallas federal court.