Speaking to CBS for the 60 Minutes programme, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf stressed that the Centre, which will include a prayer room, two blocks from the destroyed World Trade Centre is "the right thing to do."
He said that he feels duty bound to help protect non-Muslim Americans from such violence.
"... America needs it and the Muslim world needs it," he said, adding, "We have to wage peace."
When asked about the contention of the critics that it was insentive to build the Islamic Centre so close to the site of the al Qaeda terror strike, the Imam said, "We wanted to prevent another 9/11 ... We wanted a platform ... to strengthen the voice of the moderates."
The "campaign for winning hearts and minds is an important part" of fight against radical extremists, Rauf said.
"If 9/11 happens there again, I want to be the first to die," the Imam declared.
"It's my duty as an American Muslim to stand between you, the American non-Muslim, and the radicals who are trying to attack you," he added.