July 20, 2010
Video ad opposing the building of the Ground Zero mosque from The National Republican Trust Political Action Committee – no relation to the GOP.
“The Audacity of Jihad”
CBS and other media outlets have refused to air it.
Recall the ads the Saudis ran on US stations right after 15 Saudis murdered thousands of innocent people – Muslims included – on 9-11.
*Scott Wheeler, the man behind the ad, was on American Morning just now. Will add the transcript once it becomes available.
JOHN ROBERTS: Top stories just minutes away now. But first, an “A.M. Original,” something that you’ll see only on AMERICAN MORNING. The fight over plans to build an Islamic Center near the site of the World Trade Center reaching a new level of nasty this morning.
KIRAN CHETRY: A conservative group using graphic footage of 9/11 and militant Muslims in a new ad titled “The Audacity of Jihad.” Allan Chernoff talked to the man behind it and he joins us now. This entire issue, of course, raises very, very heated feelings on both sides.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Oh, boy. This sensitive stuff, no question about it. Well, Scott Wheeler has turned his passion for political ads into a campaign against an Islamic Center and a mosque near Ground Zero. Mr. Wheeler wrote, produced the ad. He wasn’t able to sell it to the networks, but have a look. It is anything but subtle.
[Showed part of the video]
SCOTT WHEELER, AD CREATOR: We know that — that in the past, Muslims have established mosques at locations where they want to declare dominion.
CHERNOFF: Wheeler, who served a year-and-a-half in the Army, runs a small political action committee — the National Republican Trust Pact. It has no ties to the Republican Party. No full-time staff. When he learned about plans to build an Islamic Community Center that would include a mosque two blocks north of Ground Zero, he says he had to send a warning. The mosque would be a victory for the terrorists.
CHERNOFF (on camera): The people establishing this facility, you think they’re celebrating the murder of 3,000 people?
WHEELER: I think so.
CHERNOFF: How are they celebrating?
WHEELER: Well, by erecting a mosque to their martyrs which they have traditionally done all over the world.
CHERNOFF (voice over): Those martyrs, claims Wheeler, are the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 planes.
WHEELER: You can also look at how many Muslims see mosques. They see them as military barracks.
CHERNOFF (on camera): Do you think this will be a military barrack?
WHEELER: Well, they call the faithful their soldiers.
CHERNOFF: The fact is, this building has been functioning as a prayer space since last fall. For the Friday midday prayer, the most important for Muslims, this place is packed with more than 400 worshippers.
CHERNOFF (voice-over): Those congregants, just a handful, come on most days say Wheeler’s claims are outrageous.
ZAED RAMADAN, CONGREGANT: It’s tremendously offensive as a Muslim-New Yorker and an American that anyone would make the attempt to associate myself, who is a proud American, whose family served as first responders.
[Ramadan is way more than a "congregant"]
CHERNOFF: The property developer and the Imam waiting for approval from New York’s Landmarks Commission to erect a new building here, say their intent is to provide a community center that can improve relations with non-Muslims.
But Scott Wheeler, who is using the ad controversy to try to raise funds for his pact, maintained there is a connection to the 2001 attack.
(on camera): Can you show us any proof that the people behind this community center have ties to al Qaeda?
SCOTT WHEELER, NRT PAC: I think there’s been proof in the media already. Well, not to al Qaeda. Why do you keep asking me about al Qaeda? I said we don’t know. I said we can establish –
CHERNOFF: Aren’t they the ones behind 9/11?
CHERNOFF: Mr. Wheeler may not have any proof that al Qaeda is backing this mosque, but he certainly does have support. A recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 52 percent of New Yorkers are opposed to the community center and mosque being built near ground zero.
CHETRY: And you’re talking a little bit about the ad deemed too controversial to run on TV? Was that intentional to get some buzz for it?
CHERNOFF: I asked them about that. You know, that is an approach that a lot of people take. They try to get their ads rejected, then try to garner tremendous amount of publicity. He says, no, absolutely not. He says he may be reworking the ad to get it on the air and says he will be trying other networks. He also said he’ll be pitching CNN. That’s what he said.
ROBERTS: Controversial issue, to be sure.