The hearing comes at the urging of the lawyer for the David Project, a group currently being sued by the ISB for defamation, who sent a letter to McDermott and local media earlier this month alleging that the ISB trustees’ current president had signed a petition in support of the pre-trial release of Abdulrahman Alamoudi. The founder of the ISB in 1982, Alamoudi is now in prison in Saudi Arabia on terrorism funding-related charges.
Lawyers for the BRA and the ISB had rebuffed McDermott’s request to participate in hearings in April, citing pending litigation in a lawsuit brought by a Mission Hill resident over charges that the BRA violated the separation of church and state in selling the land for the mosque at a below-market price in exchange for several services, including a lecture series on Islam, to be provided by the ISB.
“I understand if folks at the BRA can only answer limited questions, but I also think it’s fair to provide the opportunity to come in and ask questions,” said McDermott, who chairs the Post-Audit and Oversight committee. “I think the public, as well as any elected official, has the right to ask questions concerning whether the sale of this public parcel was handled properly and whether the sale price was in the taxpayers’ best interest,” McDermott said, adding that he intends to file the request for a hearing after the first of the year.
ISB lawyer Albert Farrah said that the ISB will not participate in hearings. “Any legitimate issues that have been raised about the transactions between the BRA and the ISB will be resolved before a court of law, not before Councilor McDermott’s subcommittee,” he said.