The news that Al Gore chose to sell his Current TV to Al Jazeera, which some think of as Muslim Brotherhood TV, recently has raised eyebrows. But what few people realize is that Fox chief Rupert Murdoch already co-owns what amounts to a Muslim Brotherhood channel in the Middle East.
The channel is Al Risala, which translates into “the (Islamic) message.” It was launched in 2006 by Saudi prince Talal bin Alwaleed, the nephew of the King of Saudi Arabia and a Murdoch business associate who also owns a 7 percent stake in Murdoch’s News Corp., the parent company of Fox News and other U.S. media outlets.
Murdoch co-owns Al Risala through his acquisition of an 18.97 percent stake in Rotana, Al Risala’s Arabic media parent group, which is owned by Alwaleed.
Based in Kuwait, Al Risala is run by general director Tareq Al-Suwaidan, a popular “tele-Islamist,” who rails against Jews, Danish cartoonists and hosts a weekly “motivational” show – urging jihad against Israel (within 1948 borders), calling for a global Islamic caliphate, and other jihadist aims.
Al-Suwaidan widely is reported to be a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. He also is an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorism financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation, five of whose leaders were convicted of supporting Hamas, a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
With earnings reported to be over $1 million annually as a host and speaker, and with his CD “Lives of the Prophet” having sold over two million copies, Al-Suwaidan counts as one of Rupert Murdoch’s more unusual cable personalities.
But Alwaleed’s and Murdoch’s Al Risala television is more than Tareq Al-Suwaidan.
The 24-hour religious channel broadcasts all manner of shows of Islamic interest. In May 2012, Al Risala launched a new weekly show, Masra Al Habeeb, hosted by Salah Sultan, the Hamas cleric, as freelance reporter Patrick Poole has documented, closely tied to Muslim Brotherhood “spiritual guide” Yusef al-Qaradawi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2011, Sultan called on Egyptians to kill every Israeli – “tourist or other” – who enters Egypt. As if to further Qaradawi’s 2011 Tahrir Square exhortations to Muslims to conquer Jerusalem, Sultan sees his show, according to an account by the Anti-Defamation League, as providing “practical steps on how to liberate Al Aqsa.”
Sure enough, the ADL reports that a promotional video shows Sultan reciting a poem about returning to Jerusalem with his rocket launcher, and, in his first episode, Sultan discusses wanting to go to Jerusalem “as liberators and not as visitors under the shadow of occupation.”
“We will raise our young chil¬dren, the seven year old ones, the five year old ones, and the four years old to fight the Jews and have war with the Jews,” a caller to the show said. Sul¬tan’s response? “Allah willing.”
Other Al Risala shows feature Islamic legal advice and opinions, such as a fatwa from a Saudi cleric, reported in February 2012 by the ADL, permitting Muslims to exploit identity information obtained by hacking Israeli credit cards.
A random sampling of translations of Al Risala programming by the Middle East Media Research Institute yields: on May 26, 2006, guidelines for wife-beating (permissible in Islamic lands, not in the West); on Sept. 3, 2008, the supposed benefits to the Islamic hudud punishment of chopping off hands for stealing (only four thefts in 100 years of Islamic rule); and on Oct. 8, 2011, a fatwa ruling it is “forbidden” to pray to Allah to place Steve Jobs in paradise (but Islamic law doesn’t rule out being sad about Jobs’ death).
Appearing on Al Risala on March 16, 2012, the former dean of Islamic law at Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University in Saudi Arabia discussed the “freedoms” enjoyed in slavery under Shariah (Islamic law).
“Allah permitted the purchase and sale of slaves,” explained Saud Al-Fanisan. “Slaves are the property of their owners. This is slavery in the Shariah, yet a slave enjoys a great deal of freedom. The only thing he is deprived of is the right to own [himself]. That’s it. He enjoys freedom of thought, freedom of belief, the freedom to work, the right to deny [Islam], and the right to command good and forbid evil. A slave enjoys all these liberties, so how can it be claimed that there is no freedom [in Islam].”
Wadah Khanfar, director general of the Al Jazeera network until stepping down in Sept. 2012, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. Tareq Al-Suwaidan, managing director of Al Risala, is a leader of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood.
Among the members of Al Risala’s “Supreme Advisory Committee” is Hamed Al Refaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, an organization that the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report links to the global Muslim Brotherhood, and to which Alwaleed has donated money. It advocates interfaith “dialogue” – only not with Jews. In an interview posted on the IIFD’s website, Al Refaie argues “there is only one dialogue language that the Jews understand and insist on adopting as a code of life, i. e. the language of rifles, rocket launchers and any means that could help them perpetrate tyranny and mischief in the land and help them impose their influence on human societies.”
Another member of the Al Risala advisory committee is Abdullah Omar Naseef, whom former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy has described as “a major Muslim Brotherhood figure involved in the financing of al-Qaida.”
It was reported just days ago Al Jazeera, the Arab broadcaster, bought the “low-rated channel” Current, which was co-founded by Gore. Al Jazeera said it would shutter Current and create a New York-based network.
Current had struggled to find viewers. But there are reports that whatever viewers it did have might not automatically translate to an Al Jazeera audience. Time Warner Cable immediately moved to drop Current when the deal was announced.
“We will not longer be carrying the service,” the company’s statement said.