Trump: Mr. Gadhafi, Tear Down That Tent

Libya leader packs up his tent; won't stay in New York suburb.

September 23, 2009, 8:24 AM

Sept. 23, 2009— -- It wasn't the public outcry, but rather pressure from billionaire Donald Trump that forced Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to pack up his tent and apparently abandon a plan to spend the night in a ritzy New York suburb.

After a rambling, conspiracy-theory-filled speech delivered at the U.N. Wednesday morning, Gadhafi planned to spend the night in Bedford, N.Y., where his agents Tuesday pitched a giant Bedouin tent on a property owned by Trump.

As local officials steamed at hosting an accused sponsor of terror, the Secret Service prepared to escort Gadhafi to the tony town outside New York City.

Just as the town was preparing to deal with the dictator next door, Donald Trump, who said he unknowingly rented a piece of his 113-acre Seven Springs estate to the Libyan, stepped in and asked the leader to take down his tent and find housing elsewhere.

"We have requested that the tenant occupying the property in Bedford, N.Y. remove the tent that was erected. They have complied with this request. Additionally, Mr. Gadhafi will not be going to the property," said Trump Organization spokeswoman Rhona Graff.

The tent was taken down just after Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano said the Secret Service told him Gadhafi would be going to Trump's estate.

Spano's office later told the Associated Press that the Secret Service informed him that Gadhafi would not be camping out in Bedford after all, but said that information "subject to change."

"The town's attorney, building inspector and police chief have visited the site and verified that the tent has been dismantled," read a statement posted on the town's Web site.

"Supervisor [Lee] Roberts thanked Donald Trump for his key role in bringing this situation to a close," the statement read.

Following news Tuesday that Gadafhi would be staying in Bedford, town officials ordered the tent be dismantled, claiming it violated building codes.

Democratic U.S. Reps. John Hall and Nita Lowey appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- who lives in Westchester County -- to do "everything in your power" to prevent Gadhafi from moving into his tent.

The so-called "mad dog of the Middle East" stayed in Manhattan Tuesday night close to the United Nations, where he addressed the General Assembly today. Gadhafi, who followed President Obama to the podium, was introduced by his countryman as the "king of kings" and gave a marathon speech criticizing the U.N. and saying the Security Council should be renamed the "terror council."

His reception in the United States has been as chilly as a desert night and his aides have wandered around the metro region trying to find a place to pitch their leader's tent.

After being rejected by New York City's Central Park and by the town of Englewood, N.J., the Libyans posed as Dutch diplomats to rent a Manhattan town house that had a large roof that could have accommodated a tent.

When that deal fell through, the Libyans apparently used intermediaries to rent Trump's 113-acre estate called the Seven Springs in the posh Westchester County suburb of Bedford, home to such tyrants of taste as Martha Stewart.

As workers began pitching the tent, local officials were pitching a fit. By Tuesday evening, as media helicopters filmed the progress of the tent's construction, the Bedford town lawyer issued a stop work order because there was no permit for the tent.

Bedford town attorney Joel Sachs said a stop work order was issued on the tent just after 5 p.m. Tuesday because it is illegal to build a temporary residence without a permit. He called the tent an "illegal structure."

"If no activity has been undertaken, so far as either removing the tent or other equipment, or removing any individuals who may be residing in the tent, then we would then proceed to take one of two types of enforcement actions," Sachs told The Associated Press.

He said the town might "seek an injunction to have the tent taken down, and individuals residing in the tent removed from the property."

Gadhafi's Tent Is Perfumed

Gadhafi's tent has accompanied him on trips to Paris, Rome and Moscow. He apparently distrusts elevators and needs space for his all-female security team.

Diane Sawyer, anchor of "Good Morning America," said today that she has been in Gadhafi's tent in Libya.

"It's perfumed, you should know," Sawyer said.

State and federal politicians who learned that Gadhafi had rented property in the area were outraged that the Libyan, who has been linked to acts of state-sponsored terror, might sleep among their constituents.

"He's not going to have many fans in Bedford or Westchester County, certainly not me. Don't want to see him in my county or my district. There's not going to be any welcome mat for him in Bedford," Republican State Sen. Vincent L. Leibell said.

U.S. Rep. Hall said he would contact the State Department and other federal authorities to protest Gadhafi's presence in his district.

"This sponsor of terror is not welcome here," Hall said. "Several residents of this area were horrifically murdered on Pan Am Flight 103. Gadhafi's presence in our community is a slap in the face to the memories of these victims and their families, adding to the recent outrage of the hero's welcome Gadhafi staged for the convicted murderer released by Scotland."

Gadhafi's plans have been greeted with similar sentiments elsewhere.

In August, Englewood residents protested the possibility of Gadhafi pitching a tent on property there owned by the Libyan Embassy.

Iranian Leader Also Finds Welcome Mat Pulled

Many of the Englewood residents were particularly incensed by the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, a Libyan imprisoned in Scotland for the 1988 bombing of Pan AM Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, who was warmly welcomed home by Gadhafi last month.

"Frankly speaking, I'm glad he won't be sleeping in my city limits," said Michael Wildes, mayor of Englewood and an immigration lawyer. "I can't understand why he won't be served an arrest warrant for the 38 citizens of New Jersey that died in the Lockerbie disaster.

"It is my prayer that the State Department will issue a restrictive visa so he won't, under the cover of night, sneak into my town," Wildes said.

Gadhafi isn't the only world leader who has had trouble finding a place to stay for this week's world summit.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, had a difficult time finding a spot to hang up a favorite khaki-colored sports coat.

When he arrived in New York in 2007 to address the General Assembly and students at Columbia University, Iran's Ahmadinejad was met with protests.

In 2007, he was considered a pariah who denied the Holocaust, called for the destruction of Israel and pursued an internationally condemned nuclear weapons program.

Following an allegedly botched and rigged presidential election in June, Ahmadinejad has suppressed protests at home while renewing his rhetoric about the Holocaust and, according to some, continuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

The Iranian president, as it turns out, will stay near the U.N. at InterContinental's Barclay, a fact that the hotel is not exactly advertising. The accommodations for the Iranians were first revealed by the protest group United Against Nuclear Iran, and sources have confirmed the account to ABC News.

The UANI has been unable to get the InterContinental to give Ahmadinejad the boot, but several other New York hotels that were planning on allowing Ahmadinejad to hold dinners abandoned the president after being targeted by the group.

The Helmsley Hotel and catering hall Gotham Hall both canceled receptions that Ahmadinejad planned on holding in New York.

"As soon as Helmsley corporate management learned of the possibility of either the Iranian mission or President Ahmadinejad holding a function at the New York Helmsley Hotel, they immediately ordered the cancellation of that function," said Helmsley spokesman Howard Rubenstein in a statement.

"Neither the Iranian mission nor President Ahmadinejad is welcome at any Helmsley facility. The Helmsley organization is grateful to United Against Nuclear Iran for bringing this matter to its attention so that appropriate action could be taken," he said.