John Walsh on Fashion Week, America’s Most Wanted, and the Downtown Islamic Center

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Photo: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

After 24 years of tracking down dangerous fugitives on America’s Most Wanted, host John Walsh must have nerves of steel, right? Not when it comes to his daughter, Meghan. "This is her first fashion show, this is her collection, she’s been living in India for the last year off and on, sourcing the silks and the colors, and I’m nervous for her," Walsh explained at his daughter's debut showing of her Blank Silk collection on Thursday. Though, to be fair, the fashion show actually provided a welcome break for Walsh, who is in New York right now, shooting Most Wanted at ground zero. "It's kind of a coincidence, this is the week of my season premiere, Saturday night, September 11," he said. "I was the only guy allowed at ground zero with a camera crew, so I'm going back, ninth year, and I'm shooting at ground zero today and tomorrow, profiling the new world’s most-wanted terrorist, Bin Laden’s American guy, Adnan Shukrijumah, a guy that was trained here in New York and tried to pull off the subway bombing."

"So a season premiere, shooting fourteen hours a day, it's a break — to put a suit on and come to see my gorgeous daughter’s show; her two handsome brothers are here, her mom," he said. "The whole family’s here to support Meghan."

Walsh hopes somebody will have seen Shukrijumah, somewhere, after his show airs on Saturday. "He could be anywhere. This is the problem," he said. "He was raised in America, he could be in the heartland. This is not a guy that was brought over like, you know, all the other terrorists at ground zero that came from other countries."

So what does Walsh think about the proposed Park51 Islamic center? "I know people are torn, and I saw everything that went on, I was in the morgue tent there, I know firemen that were killed at ground zero, and I understand the apprehension," he told us. "But I also know what makes this country great is we cherish our personal freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion. No matter what people feel, we have to stick to that; the mosque should be able to be anywhere," he said. Walsh, who is used to dealing with dangerous people, doesn’t think New Yorkers have anything to worry about. "It probably will not have any radicalized Muslims. 99 percent of the Muslims I’ve met in the world hate terrorism, they hate the radical Islamic fundamentalists," he said. "We have to adhere to freedom of religion. That’s what makes America great."