NEW YORK (PIX11)—Not long ago, the proposed Ground Zero mosque made headlines almost daily, but bad press and heated protests sent organizers packing.
Since then, Park Place, blocks from the WTC site, has been quiet. But now, the man who was at the forefront of the project, New York developer Sharif El-Gamal, is back.
At a hush-hush fundraiser held at the mosque site on Friday, El-Gamal addressed other Muslims, saying, "We're going to make this happen." In a video of his 10-minute speech, El-Gamal announced his new, aggressive plan to get the project, now called Prayerspace, off the ground.
"There is a specific need for this in Lower Manhattan," said El-Gamal.
Organizers plan to raise 7 million dollars to bring the mosque to life, and the deadline for the fundraiser is the day before the September 11th anniversary, 9/10/11.
"I'll tell you, nothing about this guy surprises me," said Mike Burke, a 9/11 family member opposed to the mosque.
Burke, who lost his brother in the attacks, watched the video with PIX 11 today and expressed his outrage.
"What's really heartbreaking is that there are people, most importantly Mayor Bloomberg, who are culpable for making this happen," said Burke.
Burke, who participated in a number of mosque protests near the site, said this new push is painful for 9/11 families who are focused on the 10-year anniversary.
"It just goes to show how much they are exploiting 9/11. They wouldn't be building it near Ground Zero if it wasn't the place were 2000 people were executed," said Burke.
According to reports, the organization has raised more than 1 million dollars to put towards the mosque. PIX11 tried reaching out to Mr. El Gamal today via phone, even visiting Soho Properties, where he is CEO. The office was empty and all phone calls went unanswered.