U.S. Diplomat Visits Controversial Mosque

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WASHINGTON - America's top diplomat in Great Britain is coming under fire for visiting a London mosque with terrorist ties.

The U.S. Embassy in London said Louis Susman's visit to the East London Mosque was part of the Obama administration's outreach to Muslims.

But the mosque has done some "reaching out" of its own in recent years -- to terrorists.

The mosque has hosted a long line of radical Islamic speakers over the years.

Susman, the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, visited the mosque last week. He was given a tour of the facility and expressed his admiration for its work.

He also invited young Muslims there to enroll in a cultural exchange program that would bring them to the U.S.

Susman's visit came just one year after al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki spoke at the East London Mosque by video link and a live telephone question and answer session.

Awlaki -- who's wanted by the U.S. for his involvement in several major terrorist plots -- also spoke at the mosque in 2003, encouraging his audience not to cooperate with British counter-terrorism authorities.

In addition to Awlaki, the East London Mosque has hosted other pro-jihad speakers who are banned from entering the United States.

The mosque's radical ties were the subject of a documentary on British television earlier this year.

CBN News contacted the State Department for comment on Susman's visit, and was directed to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in London.

"As part of President Obama's call for a renewed dialogue with Muslim communities around the world, Ambassador Susman has visited several mosques and Muslim community groups in the United Kingdom," officials said in the statement.

"His private visit to the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre was part of this effort to promote dialogue, discussion and debate between the United States and Muslims around the world," they said.."The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre have a large and diverse membership reflecting a wide range views."

The East London Mosque is one of Britain's largest mosques, with more than 5,000 members.

One of its former worshippers was the Christmas Day "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

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CBN News
Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.