Rauf’s group claims credit for ‘training’ NY Times reporter

The Investigative Project on Terrorism

A reporter who helped write the first and positive New York Times story on the Ground Zero Mosque [“Muslim Prayers and Renewal Near Ground Zero”] was trained by the group run by mosque leader Feisal Abdul Rauf, according to that group’s website.

Rauf’s organization, the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), touted the journalist’s participation in a training program by ASMA’s “Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow” (MLT).

Media trainings showed immediate results,” ASMA’s 2009 year-end report said.

Rauf’s group then cited Sharaf Mowjood, “a journalism student at Columbia University and trained at the MLT [Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow] conference, wrote a compelling story about the Muslim community’s plan to establish a center near Ground Zero. The story was published on the front page of the New York Times with Sharaf as co-author.” The article appeared in the Dec. 9, 2009, edition of the New York Times.

Mowjood could not be reached for comment. In an email, Times Metro Editor Joe Sexton, disputed ASMA’s representation about the program Mowjood attended.

“He participated in no training sessions sponsored by ASMA or the Cordoba Initiative,” Sexton wrote. He attended a lecture sponsored by ASMA in 2008. He was not a presenter or participant. He signed the sign-in sheet.”

Sexton added that “The experienced reporters here who have worked with him have had no questions about his professionalism.”

A picture from the MLT conference indicates the session was more than a lecture. Mowjood is seen seated at a conference table as another person speaks.

Sharaf Mowjood, third from the right and wearing the vest, listens intently to a fellow panelist at the ASMA media training session April 25-26, 2009.

Read the rest of this article at IPT

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