Tuesday, February 22, 2011

News Corps' Silent Partner - Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal - Part 2

Guest post By Nomadic Joe

Part 2

In the first part of this two part series, I introduced Politicalgate readers to Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of the Saudi royal family, owner of Kingdom Holdings, one of the world's richest investors and second largest shareholder in Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, parent company to Fox News. I'd like to continue this examination into Al-Waleed's life, his work and his philosophy.

Appeal to Viewers
Al-Waleed's numerous charitable efforts, especially his work with Islamic charities and foundations, are well-known in the Arab world and have earned him a great deal of "street cred" in certain circles. For example, in 2009 the prince contributed $150,000 for the rehabilitation of children with physical disabilities in the north African country of Eritrea. Additionally, The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation states that it encourages and supports organizations and academic centres which focus on empowering Saudi women, alleviating poverty, upgrading services provided to the population, and other social infrastructure issues that face the country.
Much of Al-Waleed's charitable activities has concentrated on educational initiatives to bridge the gaps between Western and Islamic communities by funding centers of American studies and research in universities in the Middle East and centers of Islamic studies in western universities. In 2002, Al-Waleed donated $500,000 to help fund the George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Add to that laudable list, his $17 million donation to the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami. In April 2009, Prince Waleed bin Talal donated $20 million to Harvard University, one of its 25 largest donations.
One of his lesser known efforts was his participation in (some say hosting of) a TV telethon broadcast throughout Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East, following Israeli operations in the West Bank city of Jenin.
According to an article in Scottish Daily Record & Sunday by Simon Houston, in 2002, in one of the most extraordinary television appeals ever, the Saudi rulers asked their 23 million subjects to dig deep for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers who took their own lives in the struggle against Israel. The appeal was, in fact, launched by King Fahd himself and state-run TV, controlled by the powerful Interior Ministry, was used to get the message across. But few needed much persuasion. Still, who could have expected the reaction?

Giant glass trunks were packed with banknotes while others were fit to burst with gold bangles and pearl necklaces.
Valuable electrical appliances were stacked against the walls. And then there were the cars - they included a Rolls Royce gifted from the royal family itself. It was Saudi Arabia's way of making sure the families of Palestinian suicide bombers need never go hungry. From the moment the appeal was launched, the queues began to form outside banks around the country. Other preferred to stay at home and make their pledges by phone.

Within seconds of the numbers appearing on television, the lines were jammed. The appeals were fronted by presenters in traditional Saudi costume. Within the first 11 hours, a staggering pounds 38.7million had been collected. At the end of day three, the figure had reached pounds 70million.Across the region, as much as pounds 150 million was raised as the people of Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai
and Qatar responded to similar appeals.

Here is how the telethon was reported on Fox News. It is an example of journalism -Fox News style. As you see there is no mention of the prince/investor involvement in the telethon, despite his supplying it with its largest individual donation at 18.5 million British pounds ($27 million)
When the allegation that the money might have been used to help families of suicide bombers became more widely known, Fox News was employed to issue statements such as the following:

Responding to charges that with the telethon Saudi Arabia was backing terrorism, Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, told Fox television: "We have made it very clear in terms of where Saudi funding has gone to provide humanitarian assistance to the families who have suffered as a result of the Israeli occupation and the recent Israeli aggression." Adel Al-Jubeir added: "We do not support suicide bombers. Our objective is to put food on people's tables and medicine in their pharmacies" (Fox News, April 28, 2002).

However, documents seized by the Israeli Defense Force following a raid of Palestinian offices in April 2002 suggest a very different story. Kenneth R. Timmerman, journalist, political writer, and conservative Republican activist who in 2000 and as a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator for Maryland, noted (Insight on the News "Saudi Wealth Fuels Global Jihadism) " that documents seized by the Israelis at numerous "charities" and government offices throughout the West Bank "show clearly, money paid by Saudi Arabia was considered as 'blood money.' It was used by Hamas as an enticement to murder by providing a guaranteed income to the families of the murderers."
Among the documents found in Tulkarm was a table from Saudi Arabia itemizing the tenth set of payments to the "Martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Intifada." The table details how $545,000 was allocated to 102 families. The logo at the top of the table reads: "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Committee for Aid to the Al-Quds Intifada."This committee was established in the fall of 2000 under the Saudi Minister of the Interior, Prince Nayef bin 'Abd al-Aziz. Prince Nayef's organization was also responsible for collecting Saudi contributions during the April 11 telethon for Palestinian "martyrs" on Saudi state television.
A report by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) titled "Saudi Arabia finances terror activities (5-9-02)," indicates that the most recent payments to the families of 102 Palestinians who died in 2001, "spelled out in chilling detail the biographies of 36 of the Palestinian 'victims.' Eight of them were identified by name in the Saudi documents as suicide bombers. The other 28 were Hamas, Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad military commanders and activists directly involved in planning or executing terrorist attacks." Among these were the commander of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank, one of the heads of the Islamic Jihad in northern Samaria and the General Secretary of the PFLP.
The IDF report further notes
the systematic and ongoing transfer of large sums of money to the Palestinians... The Saudi Committee for Support of the Intifada Al Quds, headed by the Saudi Interior Minister, stands out. The captured documents demonstrate that the Saudi support was not only of a humanitarian religious nature, as Saudi spokesmen in the U.S. claim. The documents clearly reveal that Saudi Arabia transferred ... large sums of money in a systematic and ongoing manner to families of suicide terrorists ... [and] to Hamas ... According to the captured documents, the Saudi Committee for Support of the Intifada was aware that the funds it transferred were paid to families of terrorists who perpetrated murderous attacks in Israeli cities, in which hundreds of Israelis were killed and wounded. An American woman was also killed in one of these attacks.
The IDF report concludes that persons and entities associated with Hamas and with Radical Islam are the main beneficiaries of the funds of the Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (also known as the Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Quds Intifada).
Let's take a closer look at the names on these documents listed as martyrs.
Abd al-Karim Amr Muhammad Abu Na'sa, who appears as number 17 in the Saudi table, is described as having died in a "martyrdom act in Afula." This is a reference to his suicide bombing on behalf of Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Afula on November 27, 2001. Forty-six Israelis were wounded.
Other "martyrs" on the Saudi list may not have been suicide bombers, but were well known for their past involvement in terrorism. Thus, number 68, Mahmud Abu Hanud, was the commander of Hamas for the West Bank. Number 8, Atef Abiyat, commanded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Bethlehem. His name was well known to those who engaged in peace process matters since Yasser Arafat promised the European Union that he was in prison while he moved about freely until his death.
While it is quite possible to dismiss this evidence as Israeli disinformation, statements made on the telethon are harder to refute. The telethon was hosted by a prominent Saudi-government cleric, Sheikh Saad al-Buraik, who took advantage of the live television coverage to tell his audience:

I am against America until this life ends, until the Day of Judgment, I am against America even if the stone liquefies. My hatred of America, if part of it was contained in the universe, it would collapse. She is the root of all evils and wickedness on Earth ... Muslim Brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy, neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh...

And even more unequivocal are the statements by Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Committee for the Support of the al-Quds Intifada and Interior Minister, "The committee will continue to provide direct assistance to the families of Palestinian martyrs and those wounded while resisting the occupation"
The ironic bottom line is, if all these allegations are true, it suggests that the prince had an ingenuous idea. Why not, through the use of his profits made by collaborating with News Corporation, have the American-flag-waving, anti-Islamic viewers of Fox News unknowingly donate to this anti-American, anti-Israel charity that was used, at least, in part to support the families of suicide bombers in Palestine?
Now that's what I call impressive.
Even More Irony
Back to Fox.
In an October of last year, in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League in New York, Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp. -- the parent company of Fox News stated, "Today it seems that the most virulent strains" of anti-Semitism "come from the left."

Now, there's not a single person in this room who needs a lecture on the evil of anti-Semitism. My own perspective is simple: We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews. For me, this ongoing war is a fairly obvious fact of life. Every day, the citizens of the Jewish homeland defend themselves against armies of terrorists whose maps spell out the goal they have in mind: a Middle East without Israel. In Europe, Jewish populations increasingly find themselves targeted by people who share that goal. And in the United States, I fear that our foreign policy sometimes emboldens these extremists. ..Today it seems that the most virulent strains come from the left.

Given what we know about News Corporation's investor, that remark seems especially dubious but the irony doesn't quite end there.
Glenn Beck is one of Fox News' most popular and outrageous news personalities. While his ratings have been dropping of late, he is still easily capable of drawing 2 million viewers a night. Dana Millibank of the Washington Post noted,

"In his first 18 months on Fox News, from early 2009 through the middle of this year, [Beck] and his guests invoked Hitler 147 times. Nazis, an additional 202 times. Fascism or fascists, 193 times. The Holocaust got 76 mentions, and Joseph Goebbels got 24 mentions."

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes in November of 2010 defended a recently-aired expose which accused the Jewish financier of funding a conspiratorial “shadow government” and manipulating regimes and currencies to his own benefit. The program's title- not unlike Palin's use of "blood libel" is highly charged, dating back to the Nazi claim that political leaders in Germany, and later America and Britain, were puppets of the Jews.). Condemning the broadcast liberal pundits and some Jewish leaders decried that the news story flirted with anti- Semitic stereotypes.
Moreover, this defense of Beck, in turn, sparked four hundred rabbis from almost all of the main branches of Judaism in the US to take out two full page ads, one in the Wall Street journal and another in Forward, calling upon Rupert Murdoch, owner of New Corp's Fox News to take action against what they saw as excessive use of the Holocaust and Nazi analogies to disparage his mostly liberal political opponents. They felt it had a desensitizing effect. After all, if everything is a Nazi atrocity then nothing is. If everybody is an Adolph Hitler clone, then nobody is.
Beck seems pathologically obsessed with Nazis, with a skewed view of self-taught history allowing him to link the Third Reich to whatever Obama might have said or done. There is literally so much evidence of Glenn Beck's Anti-Semitic views that it is hard to narrow the selection. Cleverly, many of the examples relate more to the kind of guests he gives a voice to on his TV and radio shows. So, just as Murdoch can claim Beck doesn't necessarily represent Fox News and his views are solely his own, Beck can say the same about his guests.

On the June 4 edition of his radio program, Glenn Beck promoted The Red Network by Elizabeth Dilling, which is a book that contains numerous passages espousing anti-Semitism and racism. At various points throughout the book, Dilling attacks "racial inter-mixture" as a communist plot, refers to "un-Christianized" "colored people" as "savages," called Hinduism and Islam "debasing and degrading," and blamed Nazi Germany's anti-Semitism on "revolutionary Russian Jews." Furthermore, Dilling was a Nazi sympathizer who visited Germany in the late 1930s, attended Nazi party meetings, and praised Adolf Hitler's leadership. Dilling also spoke at rallies hosted by the leading U.S. Nazi organization, the German-American Bund.
Dilling's history of anti-Semitism includes calling President Eisenhower "Ike the Kike" and labeling President Kennedy's New Frontier program the "Jew frontier." British professors Christopher Partridge and Ron Geaves wrote that Dilling was a "pro-Nazi anti-semite" who disseminated the anti-Semitic hoax "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." Furthermore, Dilling's work has been promoted by David Duke and the group Women for Aryan Unity.

One of Beck's frequent guests, a phony historian named David Barton, has spoken, according to the Anti-Defamation League, at events hosted by the Christian Identity Movement. The organization asserts that "Jews are 'the synagogue of Satan'; that Blacks and other people of color are subhuman; and that northern European whites and their American descendants are the 'chosen people' of scriptural prophesy."
As another blogger asks, “what if Beck was Muslim? What if, for example, Fareed Zakaria of CNN had spewed anti-Semitic nonsense on national television?”

Following Islamophobic doctrine, as articulated by Pam Geller and company, we’d see the anti-Muslim blogosphere fired up by the same less-than-lazy comparisons between Muslims and Nazis. Then we’d see more of the same outpour of vitriolic hate speech from the Stop the Islamization of America crowd.

But, Glenn Beck is not Zakaria and Beck is definitely not Muslim so he is allowed to use Fox News as a platform for hate-speech, meanwhile his boss addresses Jewish groups and warns them of the source of anti-Semitism, the liberals. I don't think Barton sounds much like a Liberal, do you?
New Channels
Besides being a shareholder in News Corporation, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is owner of an Arabic language satellite television channel, Al-Resalah, which broadcasts throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. The 24-hour broadcast channel will compete with Al-Jazeera. Apparently the enterprise was in partnership with the Fox network. Earlier this year, News Corp. agreed to buy a 9.1 percent stake in bin Talal's Rotana Media group for $70 million. Rotana hosts Fox channels in Saudi Arabia. The Middle East Media Research Institute , an organization critical of Islamic media, has accused al-Reslah of airing anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and pro- Al Qaida content. Writes Steven Stalinsky:
Prince Al-Waleed made headlines for giving tens of millions of dollars to Harvard and Georgetown universities; he also reportedly approached other East Coast universities about making donations. The prince's Kingdom Holding Company paid for advertisements on major TV networks, including CNN, and in the New York Times and Washington Post lauding the donations and the prince's "continuous efforts to serve ... religious understanding."

Al-Waleed's channel could be the evil twin brother of Fox but for an Islamic audience.

Given the millions the prince has spent on public relations, Al-Resalah's excessive anti-Western content is somewhat astonishing. It is no different from any other hate-filled Saudi TV channel. Take, for example, Sheik Ahmad Al-Kubeisi, who appeared on Al-Resalah on March 15 and said: "When there is no hope for peace, there is no alternative but to resort to the gun. ... The West's conflict with Islam and the Muslims is eternal, a preordained destiny that cannot be avoided until judgment day."

Al-Resalah began with a wide range of programmes, but eventually focused on religious features, aiming to be within the top ten by Ramadan 2008. He claimed that after only one and a half years, Al-Resalah ranks at 18 out of 400 Arab satellite channels and at number one of religious channels outside of Saudi Arabia.
Ironically, Al-Waleed’s media empire is not without its critics inside the Islamic world. In 2009, an Islamic scholar called for prosecution of two royals, Waleed al-Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of the late King Fahd and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal whose TV stations air movies, saying “they are as dangerous as drug dealers.” This unprecedented outcry came soon after the prince stated that someday Saudi Arabia would have movie theaters – something that is banned in his country.
Cinemas were closed in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s amid a rise in conservatism. Conservatives believe the movie industry encourages decadence by showing the drinking of alcohol and portraying men and women together in a country that bans liquor and the public mixing of the sexes.

“Movies are a tool that hypocrites use to implement their plot to Westernize society, corrupt it and drive it away from (religion),” said al-Ahmed in his response, posted on Islamlight.net, an Islamic Web site with news, columns and edicts.
“It is a duty to bring him (Alwaleed) and people like him, such as Waleed al-Ibrahim, to justice,” he added. “They are no less dangerous … than drug dealers.”
“He is the owner of the decadent channels that spread lewdness … and he constantly seeks to insult and humiliate women by showing them without a head cover and wearing makeup,” al-Ahmed said.

Al-Ahmed also called for Al-Waleed to repent. In the clash of civilizations, there really is no pleasing some people.
The Final Bit of Irony

“(M)ost countries have prohibited or limited foreign media ownership “at least partly out of fear that foreign owners would use those outlets to manipulate public opinion in times of national crisis.”
Multinational media ownership was thus not widespread outside of consumer magazines before the late 1980s, so there is little research on the impact of foreign ownership. Literature on media ownership deregulation more generally has been plentiful since the late 1980s, however...the libertarian rhetoric of the Reagan era was underlain by a commercial ethic that promised to unleash entrepreneurship by “getting the government off the backs of the people.” ..the ramifications of deregulation in these industries have ironically instead been equity-based, with a vast reduction in diversity of viewpoints.

Thus, the deregulation of the American media industry opened the doors for the growth of the Murdoch empire but the same time the deregulation of media ownership allowed for its widespread abuse.
Perhaps you saying to yourself, "There should be SOME law against this kind of thing." While deregulation has insured nothing can stop foreign ownership of media, there are laws against giving material support to terrorist organizations. Its prohibition is clearly defined in the Patriot Act
18 U.S.C. 2339B prohibits "providing material support or resources" to an organization the Secretary of State has designated as a "foreign terrorist organization." The material support ban was first passed as part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The provision's purpose is to deny terrorist groups the ingredients necessary for planning and carrying out attacks. Congress was concerned that terrorist organizations with charitable or humanitarian arms were raising funds within the United States that could then be used to further their terrorist activities. The provision outlawed any support to these groups, irrespective of whether that support was intended for humanitarian purposes.
The original definition of "material support or resources" in the AEDPA included providing tangible support such as money, goods, and materials and also less concrete support, such as "personnel" and "training."Section 805 of the PATRIOT Act expanded the definition to include "expert advice or assistance.
Well, out of respect for my readers and myself, I won't pretend to be a lawyer so I couldn't tell you if the activities I've outlined actually apply to any of the people in this post.
Now are you ready for the punchline?
The individual responsible for crafting that legal document, that is, the chief architect of the Patriot Act, Viet D. Dinh is a lawyer and a conservative legal scholar who served as an Assistant Attorney General of the United States from 2001 to 2003, under the presidency of George W. Bush.
Born in Saigon, South Vietnam, Dinh has served as Associate Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee, as Special Counsel to Senator Pete V. Domenici for the Impeachment Trial of President Bill Clinton, and He also served as counsel to the Special Master mediating a number of lawsuits by Holocaust victims against German and Austrian financial institutions. Dinh was mentioned as a potential nominee to The Supreme Court of the United States in a Republican administration.
One more thing, Dinh just happens to be on the board of directors of News Corporation.
So don’t hold your breath. When it comes to News Corp, it is often difficult to know who or what you are actually dealing with.



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