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Prince bin Talal and Jamal A. Khashoggi
“I met Osama in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), and ever since, I developed a close relationship with him.”
Who said this? Bin Laden’s second in command? No, it’s New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new business partner.
His name is Jamal A. Khashoggi, and he’s heading the recently announced joint media venture between Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Bloomberg News.
The controversial partnership raises new concerns about infiltration of the U.S. media by Islamists bent on institutionalizing Shariah finance and other Islamic laws in the West.
In a recent Arab press interview, Khashoggi revealed he grew up in Saudi Arabia with the late al-Qaida leader inside the radical Muslim Brotherhood, a secretive movement whose credo is “Jihad is our way; Death in the cause of Allah our highest ambition.”
He says he spent time with bin Laden in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and later in Sudan. The close friends shared a dream of a pan-Islamic nation.
“We were young Muslim activists who believed in our responsibility to support Islam and create an Islamic state,” said Khashoggi, who previously worked for Saudi’s intelligence minister (who also met with bin Laden in Afghanistan before 9/11).
“I was a Muslim Brotherhood type (and believed that by) establishing the Islamic system throughout, it will lead to the (return of the) caliphate,” explained Khashoggi, who now calls himself a “neo-Islamist.” “Now, I believe this is the work of God. If God wants (the caliphate) to happen, he will make it happen.”
“Neo-Islamists” are a new generation of Muslim leaders distinguished by their seeming receptivity to the forces of modernization and engagement with the West. However, they remain faithful to the central tenets of Shariah law.
“What I admire the most in Wahhabism is that it empowers me to reach God directly without the need of anybody else,” Khashoggi said regarding his faith. “And I like that and I call that positive Wahhabism.”
Last month, Khashoggi and bin Talal announced the launch of a pro-Islamist 24-hour TV news network with Bloomberg’s privately held news service.
The deal has Bloomberg News providing five hours of financial and economic news programming throughout the day on the new “Alarab” channel, which the prince says will be “right of Al-Jazeera” – that is, more fundamentalist.
A team of Bloomberg media specialists and producers will be provided to the Alarab channel, and will assist in the production of the channel’s economic and business coverage, according to a press release.
Sources tell WND that Bin Talal and Bloomberg finalized the deal this May during a private meeting in the mayor’s New York City office.
Critics fear the venture could serve as a platform for bin Talal’s notoriously anti-Israel agenda. The billionaire has donated millions of dollars to Saudi telethons raising money for families of Palestinian “martyrs.” Bin Talal also co-owns a Saudi TV station that once broadcast a fundraiser titled, “Jihad in Palestine,” which glorified violence against Israel.
After 9/11, the prince presented a $10 million gift to then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. When bin Talal explained it came with a string attached – that America must acknowledge its pro-Israeli policies brought on the attacks – Guiliani famously rejected the relief check.
New York’s current mayor, on the other hand, appears to have few qualms about doing business with the Saudi royal, even though Bloomberg is Jewish.
Critics say the mayor is chasing Arab petrodollars as his own business empire struggles amid the U.S. recession.
But the two seem to see eye-to-eye on many issues, including the Ground Zero mosque. Bloomberg gave his blessing to the Islamic shrine. In fact, to the shock of many, the mayor actually promoted its construction. His support is said to have been colored by bin Talal, who is said to be one of the project’s silent foreign boosters.
Bin Talal’s Saudi-based Kingdom Foundation has sunk more than $300,000 into American Society for Muslim Advancement, a U.S. nonprofit group promoting the mosque. His foundation is run by Saudi hijabi Muna Abu Sulayman, who appears on ASMA’s website as one of its “Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow.”
Sulayman, who spends much of her time in the U.S., happens to be the daughter of Dr. AbdulHamid Abu Sulayman, “one of the most important figures in the history of the global Muslim Brotherhood,” according to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report.
The Egypt-based Brotherhood is the parent of Hamas and al-Qaida and the source of most of the jihadi ideology and related terror throughout the world today. Citing its secret U.S. archives, prosecutors say the Brotherhood, which was set up in America with millions in Saudi cash, has a plan to “destroy” America “from within,” and is using its agents and front groups in the U.S. to carry out that strategy. Khashoggi is said to have helped establish the Brotherhood network when he lived in Indiana decades ago.
Dr. Sulayman’s U.S. offices were raided by federal agents after 9/11 on suspicion of providing material support to terror groups. An unsealed federal search warrant lists him as chairman and president of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, or IIIT, the Brotherhood’s U.S.
In December 2008, IIIT hosted Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Rauf to discuss his Shariah Index Project, which was to be housed in the planned 15-story structure. The index will formally rate which governments best follow Islamic law. Sulayman succeeded Rauf’s late father, Muhammad, as rector of the International Islamic University in Malaysia. Rauf has kept an office in Malaysia, and he’s held Shariah project meetings there.
More troubling to observers is bin Talal’s obsession with mainstreaming Shariah finance in the West – and Bloomberg’s apparent receptiveness to the idea.
Islamic banking rejects the cornerstone of Western finance: credit and interest rates. It also requires a share of profits go to Islamic charities, which often funnel money to terrorism.
Through a $20 million endowment, bin Talal has set up a Shariah law and finance section at Harvard University.
Bloomberg LP recently opened a regional hub in Dubai, where it has developed an “Islamic finance portal.”
“Since the meltdown of the Western capitalist system, there has been an increasingly large focus on the virtues of Islamic finance,” Bloomberg’s Mideast chief Max Linnington told “The National” newspaper of Dubai. “Today, there is no one single provider of information that caters to the Islamic finance market. So by Bloomberg being here, we are in the process of building out an Islamic finance product.”
Khashoggi told Al-Majalla.com that he wants to model the 24-hour Arab channel on Fox News, which his boss has a stake in. Bin Talal has sunk more than $600 million in Fox parent News Corp. With a 7 percent stake, he’s now the biggest shareholder outside the Rupert Murdoch family.
Murdoch and Alwaleed together operate a media venture called Rotana. Zawya Dow Jones New Service, which covers Mideast markets, grew out of the deal.
Khashoggi denied Murdoch is a partner in the Alarab venture. But Zawya Dow Jones itself reported last year that Alwaleed would launch “the news channel in partnership with the Fox Network.”
Last decade, Murdoch attended an awards dinner honoring the prince in New York. It was thrown by the Arab Bankers Association of North America, a group that supports Shariah finance in America. Murdoch sat next to bin Talal at the head table.
The media mogul took the podium to praise the Saudi billionaire for his investment in News Corp.
“Very proud, we are, that Prince Alwaleed is one of News Corp.’s largest shareholders,” Murdoch gushed.
The prince’s website says he “intends to leverage its relationship with News Corp.’s management to identify new investment opportunities.” He counts Fox’s parent as a “core holding.”
Bin Talal, who has been interviewed by Fox in flattering features, has boasted of his influence over Fox news content. For instance, he recounted how when he saw Fox describing Muslim riots in France as “Muslim riots,” he phoned Murdoch directly and had the wording changed within a half hour in order to delink Islam from the violence.
A Fox producer, moreover, suggested the Saudi shareholder also had a hand in unbooking authors of the bestselling “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” which exposes the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America. Bin Talal has donated millions of dollars to CAIR, which was recently implicated in a terror plot to funnel money to Hamas suicide bombers and has since been banned by the FBI from outreach functions.
Despite proven terror ties, top CAIR officials are regular invited guests on the O’Reilly Factor and other Fox News shows.
Bloomberg, for his part, recently published a glowing profile of bin Talal in his Bloomberg Markets Magazine.
“The prince says his shift in strategy at Kingdom Holding may put him on a path to surpass the riches of the 79-year-old (Warren) Buffett,” the article says.
“When he was my age, he was not as big as me,” bin Talal is quoted as saying. “I still have 20 years.”
Bin Talal says his goal is to be the largest foreign investor in America.