A secret correspondent of mine has just passed on her reflections on the behavior of an immensely distinguished academic press when its coffers were threatened by a Saudi financial bully who was a little antsy about his monetary links (and that of others) to Islamic terrorism. Contrast the difference between the American approach and timorous Europeans (including Brits). Namely, Cambridge University Press has just pulped the entire edition of its 2006 book by two respected writers on Saudi financing of terrorism, because it was intimidated by legal action of Saudi financier bin Mahfouz.
This was a book, Alms for Jihad--Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World, written by Robert O. Collins, a retired University of California professor who specialized in the Horn of Africa and Gulf, and by J. Millard Burr, a retired State Department official.
Mahfouz sued two British newspapers and CUP is taking "precautionary" action in censoring its own published authors because the manuscript covers some of the same ground. This is an extraordinary action for a university press, and shows a new Saudi tactic of attempting to quell any investigation of their sources of financing. Instead of issuing a correction or retraction, Cambridge Press has bought up every single copy of the book from Amazon, abe.com, university bookstores, and every other online book dealer, and has requested university libraries to withdraw copies as well. Most of what has been suppressed through this action is, of course, material that has nothing to do with bin Mahfouz.
Quite a contrast to the intentions behind the Financing of Terrorism Convention and the Terrorist Financing Act, of elucidating the sources of money to AQ, Hamas, etc.
I happen to have bought a copy of the book before the censors got active. A real cheap collector's item now--all the other copies disappeared off the Amazon web site and abe.com, within about 5 days, like something out of Arthur Koestler's Stalinist imagination--shredding the entire book with no stated plans to reissue. The Saudis are trying to shut down debate on the role of their charities and banks, and UK has no "public figure" exception unlike US case law. It's outrageous for universities to crumple like this. Danish cartoons all over again.