The authors of the book Alms for Jihad, pulled from the market by publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP) in the face of a controversial libel suit in a British Court, said this week they are in the process of regaining their publishing rights and will seek to republish the book with a U.S. publisher. University of California Santa Barbara Professor Robert O. Collins, a co-author, told the LJ Academic Newswire he is currently negotiating with CUP for a rights reversion and has been assured that "there will be no problem, just several weeks to draft proper legal papers." Collins also said the authors have had several offers from U.S. publishers, but will make no firm plans until they officially secure their publishing rights.
In a move that has garnered significant media coverage worldwide, CUP quickly acquiesced to a libel suit threatened in England by Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, whose charitable activities have reportedly been linked to terrorist activities. In response to Mahfouz' suit, CUP pulped copies of the book, put the book out of print, asked libraries to pull the book from its shelves, agreed to pay damages, and issued a stunning public apology on its web site. In its apology, CUP acknowledged "serious and defamatory allegations," against Mahfouz in Alms for Jihad and called all allegations against him reported in the book "manifestly false."
Don't expect any apologies from the authors, however. "We stand by what we wrote and refused to be a party to the settlement," Collins told the Newswire. "As soon as CUP received notice, they decided to settle as rapidly as possible despite our vigorous defense. CUP did not want to embark on a long and expensive suit which they could not win under English libel law." Indeed libel laws in England, Collins acknowledged, are far more favorable to plaintiffs than those in the United States and often described by British journalists as a "Club Med for Libel Tourists."
Collins said he is confident the book will be re-published in the United States, where Mahfouz' protests would have little chance of succeeding in court. Collins said Mahfouz is of course free to sue them in a U.S. court, but indicated that such a suit is highly unlikely. "In reality the few passages referring to Mahfouz are trivial when compared to the enormous amount of information in the book that is in demand," Collins noted, adding that he has received calls from booksellers offering as much as $500 for copies. Collins meanwhile expressed regret that his relationship with CUP, where he has published three books, has been severed. He said CUP was a "superb" press to work with. "I am sorry to have it come to an end."