Sharif El-Gamal, the developer behind the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque," told CBS News' Scott Pelley that it never crossed his mind that the location of the project was too close to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Asked why not, he replied, "Because I did not hold myself or my faith accountable for that tragedy."
In an interview airing tonight on the CBS "Evening News" and later on "60 Minutes," El-Gamal discussed the uproar over Park 51, the proposed Islamic cultural center two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center.
El-Gamal describes himself as "an American, a New Yorker, born in Methodist Hospital Brooklyn, to a Polish Catholic mother and an Egyptian father."
"I did," El-Gamal replied. "That's New York, though. That's New York."
As Hotsheet reported Friday, El-Gamal also told Pelley the backers of the project will not take money from "
"We will not take money from Iran. We will not take money from Hamas," he said.
More from the interview will air on the "Evening News" tonight.