Scandal Rocks Fox News Over Saudi Terror Link
By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Fox News Correspondent James Rosen reported on Wednesday night that a “major investor in the parent company” of Fox News has been implicated in financing the terrorist group al-Qaeda. Rosen made the embarrassing disclosure in a story on the channel’s “Special Report” show hosted by Bret Baier.
The alleged al-Qaeda financier, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, is a very close friend of Rupert Murdoch and his family, who control major media companies like News Corp and 21st Century Fox. The latter is now the parent company of the Fox News Channel.
The second largest shareholder in the Fox News parent company after the Murdoch family, Alwaleed has been addressed as “Your Highness” during his appearances on the network. His recent appearances have made him sound moderate, while denouncing Islamic extremism and the ISIS terrorist group.
Fox News is to be congratulated for reporting on a developing scandal that puts its chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rupert Murdoch, in a very bad light.
A video posted by Alwaleed’s company, Kingdom Holdings, shows Alwaleed and Murdoch warmly embracing at one of several intimate meetings they have held over the years. Alwaleed has also met regularly with Murdoch’s liberal son, James Murdoch, the co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox.
Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, Alwaleed offered a $10 million contribution to a 9/11 fund for families and victims. Then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani rejected the money because Alwaleed had blamed the terror attacks on U.S. Middle East policy.
Rosen, a hard-charging investigative reporter, really had no alternative but to cover the damaging disclosures. The allegations were made by Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker of 9/11, and provided in the form of a sworn statement to attorneys for families of 9/11 victims for their lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. He is serving a life sentence at a supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
Fifteen of the 19 terrorist hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks came from Saudi Arabia, and the role of the Saudi government and its top officials and citizens in the massacre of nearly 3.000 Americans on that day has been a matter of controversy ever since.
Rosen said Moussaoui’s sworn statement named Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal,“a leading Saudi businessman and major investor in the parent company of this network,” as one of the financiers of al-Qaeda.
But Alwaleed is much more than just an investor in Murdoch’s companies. He is also a personal friend of Murdoch’s who boasted in 2005 that a phone call to Murdoch resulted in the Fox News Channel altering its coverage of Muslim riots in France, in order to eliminate references to the religious affiliation of the Muslim extremists.
“I picked up the phone and called Murdoch and said that I was speaking not as a shareholder, but as a viewer of Fox. I said that these are not Muslim riots, they are riots,” Alwaleed reportedly said. “He [Murdoch] investigated the matter and called Fox and within half an hour it was changed from ‘Muslim riots’ to ‘civil riots.’”
I asked Murdoch about this at the 2006 annual meeting of News Corporation. He confirmed that a call from Alwaleed had resulted in the change. Murdoch said the change was made after it was determined that there was also a Catholic role in the riots. I had never heard or seen it reported anywhere that there was a Catholic role in the riots.
In 2002, it was revealed that Alwaleed had contributed $500,000 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood front that has boasted of influence over Fox entertainment programs. The bio for Nihad Awad, CAIR’s Executive Director and co-founder, describes how he “has successfully led negotiations with Fortune 500 companies and Hollywood film corporations on issues of concern to American Muslims. These issues include religious discrimination in the workplace, racial and religious profiling, negative stereotypes about Muslims in major Hollywood films, and products that are offensive to Muslims.”
In recent years, however, Alwaleed has postured as an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups. In 2013, for example, he announced the sacking of Tarek Al-Suwaidan as director of one of his TV channels because of his Muslim Brotherhood ties. Alwaleed said at the time that he was opposed to “the Brotherhood terrorist movement.”
The channel is a part of Alwaleed’s Rotana Group, an Arab media conglomerate based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that is partly owned by News Corp.
On the October 26, 2014, “Sunday Morning Futures” Fox News Channel program hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Alwaleed declared that Saudi Arabia was opposed to the terrorist group ISIS, regarded by many experts as a spin-off from al-Qaeda.
The following exchange took place:
Bartiromo: Prince Alwaleed, what do you say to those out there who say that Saudi Arabia has had a history of supporting and funding some extremists, particularly in Syria, for example? Do you believe Saudi Arabia should take some responsibility for ISIS even being formed?
Alwaleed: Well, the whole world has to take responsibility, not only—I mean, there is no doubt there are some Saudis, like there are some people in the United States, like in Europe, in some other Arab countries, who really are (INAUDIBLE) and support these terrorist groups.
Alwaleed didn’t explain who these Saudis or other people were. He went on to tell “Maria” that she should “rest assured” because Saudi Arabia “right now has enacted laws” against supporting terrorist groups.
During another appearance with Bartiromo, Alwaleed called ISIS a “disease” that has to be eradicated.
While Alwaleed is now putting the best face on what the Saudis and other “moderate” Muslims are supposedly doing around the world to counter terrorism, his behind-the-scenes influence on the Murdoch empire continues to generate controversy. Speculation emerged recently that Alwaleed’s influence was a factor in the Fox News Channel’s apology for covering Muslim-dominated “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims and police fear to enter.
The unwarranted apology dismayed conservatives who were counting on Fox News to cover the growing problem of the Islamization of Europe.
It is curious that as the Moussaoui allegations against Alwaleed and other Saudi officials and citizens were making news, it was suddenly disclosed that Alwaleed was reducing his stake in News Corp while maintaining his investment in 21st Century Fox.
Alwaleed’s organization, Kingdom Holding, discussed the change in stock ownership in an announcement featuring a photo of Alwaleed and Murdoch walking through what appears to be a newsroom. It said Alwaleed remains “fully supportive of Rupert Murdoch and his family.”
The disclosures of a Saudi role in financing al-Qaeda is a subject that deserves more follow-up from Fox News and other media organizations.
To its credit, the Fox News website is now running a follow-up story noting that the new charges are prompting calls for the declassification and release of 28 classified pages of the full report on 9/11. The role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks is said to be a major topic covered in the 28 pages.