BRA Official Asked Help From Mosque Backer

May 1, 2007

Author: Donovan Slack

Source: The Boston Globe

A Boston Redevelopment Authority official involved with the city's decision to reduce the price of land it sold to the Islamic Society of Boston for a Roxbury mosque asked a Saudi Arabian supporter of the project to help plan a trip to the Middle East for Mayor Thomas M. Menino and two of his political allies, according to BRA documents.

Muhammad Ali-Salaam, the BRA's deputy director for special projects, wrote to Esam Mudeer shortly after the Saudi television executive had met with Menino in Boston in 1998 to discuss the mosque project.

On BRA letterhead, Ali-Salaam wrote that after Mudeer's meeting with Menino, the mayor "demonstrated his support for our efforts" and that Dr. Walid Al-Fitaihi, then trustee of the Islamic Society, suggested to BRA director Thomas O'Brien that he "visit the Kingdom."

O'Brien agreed, according to Ali-Salaam's letter, and the BRA staff recommended that the mayor, three of his aides, and two political allies also be included on the trip. "The necessary protocol and planning for such a venture is beyond my capacity, and I request your assistance," Ali-Salaam wrote.