One of the dirty little secrets of the “War on terror” is that great friend of the US, the Saudi government, looking the other way when it’s money supports terrorism.

But a more disturbing issue is now being argued in front of the US Court system.

A Saudi millionaire is using the lax UK Libel Laws to stop the publication of books that displease them.

One of the books that this arrogant millionaire is trying to silence is Alms for Jihad: Charities and Terrorism in the Islamic World.

This ground breaking book that outlines the extent of the involvement of Saudi religious charities has been withdrawn by it’s British publishers. The problem? A British libel law that is biased against the press because one of the millionaires sued the publishing company in court, and the company had neither the funding nor the resources to fight every line of the book in court so found it easier to settle and destroy the books rather than to risk a lawsuit they could not afford.

As a result, there has been an dampening of news reporting about the hard evidence for such connections, because even in the US editors fear such lawsuits.

Robert Collins, a professor emeritus of History at the University of Santa Barbara, reports on History News Network about the suit, insisting that although they connected the charities as a cover to fund jihadi terror, they recognize that only one website had a similar name linking the millionaire with the knowledge of jihad:

The Mawafaq (Blessed Relief) Foundation of Shaykh Mahfouz and its principal donor was declared by the U.S. Treasury “an al-Qaida front that receives funding from wealthy Saudi businessmen” one of whom was the designated terrorist, Yassin al-Qadi who “transferred millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden through charities and trusts like the Muwafaq Foundation.” It appears very strange that the founder of his personal charity and its major donor had no idea where or whom or for what purpose his generosity was being used.

However, the publisher was worried that the jury might consider even this link as a libel and grant a huge settlement, so they decided to settle out of court.

But co author Rachel Ehrenfeld went further. She did not go along with the lawsuit settlement, (which sued the company rather than the authors) and as a result she was sued in the UK Courts:

Bin Mahfouz’s legal “victories” in London had the desired effect he and other Saudi terror financiers sought – silencing of the media even in the U.S. where the First Amendment protects writers and publishers. But American book and newspaper publishers are not willing to risk expensive lawsuits in London. Many refuse to publish even the most comprehensively documented reports on alleged wealthy Middle Eastern funding terrorism.

Bin Mahfouz sued me in London in January 2004, shortly after the U.S. publication of my book Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed – and How to Stop It. I refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of a British court over a book published here; the court then ruled for bin Mahfouz by default, enjoined British publication of Funding Evil, awarded bin Mahfouz $225,900 in damages and expenses and ordered me to publicly apologize and destroy the book. I refuse to acknowledge the British Court or its ruling.

She has gone on to take the case to US Courts.

Since British libel law favors suits such as bin Mahfouz’s, and the First Amendment protects U.S. journalists reporting on public issues, I chose to fight his false claims in America. I sued in a New York federal court, for a declaration that bin Mahfouz’ English default judgment is unenforceable in the United States, because it violates my First Amendment rights.

Prominent civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate described it as “one of the most important First Amendment cases in the past 25 years.”

On June 8, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously declared my case is “ripe” for hearing in a U.S. court, noting that the case has implications for all U.S. authors and publishers, whose First Amendment rights are threatened by foreign libel rulings.

It would be the height of irony if one of the side effects of the “war on terror” is the ability of investigative reporters from countries with strict censorship laws to be able to publish their data in the Unitied States without fear of prosecution.

As for the connection of Saudi Charities with terrorism, this is a major problem here in the Philippines, where groups boasting that they ran orphanages are a cover for funding jihadi groups that behead road workers and bomb buses.

The Bush administration has indeed been shutting down such charities via lawsuits in various countries, but few news organizations outside of the left have bothered to connect the dots.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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