NEW YORK (WPIX)—Depending on who you listen to, Imam Suraj Wahhaj happens to be two totally different people. In his community, he is a well respected scholar and one of the most influential voices in Muslim America. But in another community, he is an Anti-American "unindicted co-conspirator" from the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center, often labeled "terrorism associate."
Wahhaj is the Imam at the Al-Taqwa Mosque in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn. He's an NYU graduate who majored in math with an art minor. Once a member of the Nation of Islam, he is now considered a moderate and became the first Muslim to give the opening prayer in Congress.
But the title of "unindicted co-conspirator" speaks louder of the controversial Imam than anything else.
Accusations against him were reinforced when he appeared as a witness for the defense at the trial for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so called blind Sheik. The former US Attorney who placed Wahhaj on the unindicted co-conspirator declined to be interviewed for our report, but some facts are known. Iman Wahhaj's mosque once invited Sheik Rahman to speak there. Eventually the Sheik would be convicted of plotting to blow up city landmarks, along with Al Taqwa Mosque member, Clement Hampton El.
The Imam was invited to City Hall last week, when Mayor Bloomberg called for a roundtable with Muslim leaders. Mayor Bloomberg was criticized for inviting Wahhaj. Eventually Bloomberg said it was a mistake to include Wahhaj at the roundtable.
In an exclusive interview with PIX News, the Imam swore he has no terrorism ties. Condemning the actions of terrorists as "anti-Islam" and "cowardly."