Even though he is one of the richest men in the world, as the recently released biography of billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal details, his name first made headlines only after September 11, 2001, when Mayor Giuliani rejected his $10 million proposal after what the prince said about the root causes of the terrorist attacks in America.
The biography quotes directly from Mr. Giuliani's book "Leadership," which recalled the episode: "When the Prince arrived, he was wearing an opulent gold robe and headdress... He gave me a cashier's check for $10 million, for the Twin Towers Fund. Looking at the site from the small podium, the Prince was saying the right things... But something wasn't quite right. There was a smirk on his face, which seemed to carry over to his entourage. He was the only visitor who was unmoved by what he saw."
Prince Alwaleed's biographer, Riz Khan (anchor for the upcoming English Al-Jazeera news channel), added, "It was politics that angered many in the Middle East, who considered Giuliani to be bowing to pressure from certain groups ... One columnist in Al-Riyadh, a Saudi newspaper, wrote: [Giuliani] sacrificed the public interest for a private interest, manifested in his desire to draw closer to the Jewish electorate."
This text was actually from a October 11, 2001, MEMRI dispatch by Mahmoud bin Abd Al-Ghani Sabbagh. The book omits the article's headline, "Al-Waleed's Check, The Homosexual Governor [sic] & The Propaganda War," as well as insulting text from the article: "The words of [Prince Alwaleed] did not, of course, please the Jewish lobby ... Because the governor [sic] of the Big Apple is a Jew, he refused [to accept the donation] ... Giuliani said: 'The Prince's declarations are grievous and irresponsible; these Arabs have lost the right to dictate [to us what to do]. What we [America] must do is kill 6,000 innocent people. By Allah, I am amazed at your act, you Jew; everything Prince Al-Waleed said was true..." Mr. Al-Waleed's defender went on to attack New York City and Mr. Giuliani, calling him "a homosexual in a city in which dance clubs, prostitution, homosexuality, and stripping proliferate."
This month, the prince made headlines again when it was announced he donated $20 million to Harvard and Georgetown universities. The funds will be used at Georgetown to expand the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding that will be renamed the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center. The prince told the Arab News on December 14 why he gave the money: "We are determined to build a bridge between Islam and Christianity for tolerance that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries."
Prince Alwaleed made billions in profits from businesses such as the ART TV network, which includes Iqra TV. According to his biography, the prince owned 30% of ART "and became fairly active in overseeing parts of it" but has sold some of its ownership.
A November 28, letter from Rep. Steve Rothman, a Democrat of New Jersey, and 22 other members of Congress to the new Saudi ambassador, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, was critical of Prince Alwaleed, his ownership of ART, and more specifically incitement on Iqra. Excerpts from the letter include: "We are greatly concerned about the ongoing incitement against Americans and Jews that is present in the programming content of Iqra TV, part of the ART TV network, which is partially owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The content of Iqra TV, which can be viewed in the United States and throughout the world, promotes anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism, incites its viewers to rampant Jihad, and advocates violence against Israelis. There is no excuse for spreading such hatred ... we strongly believe that the sponsorship of a television station that promotes Jihad and antipathy towards Americans and Jews by a member of the Royal Family must immediately cease."
After receiving the $20 million donation, Georgetown's president explained to the Arab News that the Alwaleed Center will help facilitate cultural and interreligious dialogue. Yet programming on ART's Iqra TV includes Islamic religious figures calling on Muslims to confront non-Muslims; calls for the entire world to follow Islam, and for Christians and Jews to burn in hell for being nonbelievers.
Other notable examples include the Saudi deputy minister of religious endowments, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Matroudi, defining terrorism according to the Saudi government as: "Any act or statement that contradicts the Koran." More recently, on December 7, Iqra interviewed a toddler who discussed the upcoming "big battle" with the Jewish "dogs" and "villains."
Mr. Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.