Libel Terrorism

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If there is anything that rivals the insidiousness of the Saudi regime, it is the blatant assault that the Saudis have made on our own precious first amendment rights, particularly our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. This is what is sometimes referred to as “libel terrorism” or “libel tourism” .

This new form of terrorism is in keeping with the Saudi rigidly biased, tightly controlled state press, which is designed to deflect attention away from the lack of domestic development of an educational infrastructure for their people , lack of advancement in the field of democracy, and horrific human rights abuses by magnifying the evils of Jews and of Christians, of Israel, and of the United States.

A major maniacal player in the battle over our first amendment rights has just recently departed from the scene.  On Sunday, August 21st, perhaps the greatest global inhibitors of freedom of speech and of a free press, Saudi billionaire, Khalid Bin Mahfouz passed away in his home in Jidda.

Sheik Mahfouz amassed a huge fortune of petro dollars worth approximately 3.35 billion dollars. His meteoric rise of massive wealth was based on our addiction to Saudi fuel and the Sheik’s thirty percent share of the Saudi Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Bank of Credit and Commerce International is a bank which had been shut down in 1991 amidst charges of money laundering and financial fraud. He had been forced to pay a fine of 225 million dollars. His financial operations have been accused of funneling money to Al Qaeda and other terrorist operations.

One of the ways that Mahfouz used this massive oil wealth was by shopping around the globe for a court system where the burden of proof is on the defendant. He was shopping for a judicial system which would make it easy to sue any author, scholar, journalist or publisher, who had the temerity to tell the truth about, “our (so called) allies in the war on terrorism,” as the Saudis have often been conveniently referred to, by members of various administrations, republican and democrat, alike, who have made a Faustian bargain for an unfettered supply of cheap Saudi oil. Mahfouz’ target was anyone who dared to tell the truth regarding the not very insignificant role the Saudis have played in either the spreading of that particularly radical form of Islam, Wahhabaism,  through funding Islamic mosques and schools throughout the world, and the Saudi’s rather direct link to worldwide terrorism.

In England one is guilty, before being proven innocent.  Mahfouz therefore chose Britain, where the libel laws favor the plaintiff, in which to play his highly expensive, litigious games.

Rachel Ehrenfeld, an internationally recognized Israeli-American anti-terrorism expert and member of EMET’s Board of Advisors, was the sole author, to date, who has possessed sufficient courage to fight back. In her 2005 book, “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It”, Rachel was able to draw upon government documents that directly identified Sheik Mahfouz as a leading financier of terrorism.  These documents traced the money trail directly back to Mahfouz, who had erected a Saudi banking system, which as far back as 1996 had been identified by French, British and American intelligence as having had been used for the benefit of none other than Osama Bin Laden.

Bin Mahfouz also established a bogus “charitable foundation” entitled, “Muwafaq”, (Blessed Relief), which Dr. Ehrenfeld definitively established in her book through government documents, had been a front organization for funding money to Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Makhtab al-Khadimet.

Although the book was published in the United States and not in England, Sheik Mahfouz ordered 23 copies of the book through, to be delivered to Britain.  The English court accepted jurisdiction of the case on those rather shaky grounds. Because Rachel had neither the money to fly to England or to hire expensive legal counsel, nor the desire to appear in court, Sheik Mahfouz won in a default judgment against Dr. Ehrenfeld in 2005. She was ordered to destroy all copies of her book and to pay out $230,000

The Saudis, and particularly bin Mahfouz, have made a favorite sport out of exploiting the British court system and rendering expensive suits against any author who dares to speak out against them. Even the venerable Cambridge University Press, established in the year 1200, cowered in 2007 and agreed to turn to pulp

Not being one to mess with, Rachel and her full 5’2” frame fought back, and fought back hard. First she lobbied for and successfully passed “Rachel’s law” in New York State.  The New York law says that no foreign libel law judgment can be enforced in New York, protecting New York publishers and writers. Similar laws were passed in Illinois, Florida and California, where it is pending signature by the governor.

In the United States Senate, the Free Speech Protection Act 2009 is pending, sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter,(democrat, Pennsylvania)  Senator Joseph Liberman, (independent, Connecticut),  Senator Chuck Schumer,  (democrat, New York)  and Wyden. This bill would protect our sacred constitutional freedoms of freedom of the press and freedom of speech from being assaulted by other enablers, financers and defenders of global Islamic terrorism.

As Rachel Ehrenfeld has said, “The death of Khalid bin Mahfouz means absolutely nothing in the fight for the protection of free speech. His son, Abdurrahman Ben Mahfouz” was a part of the law suits and is heir-apparent to this sort of Saudi legal blackmail. It is ironic that England, the mother of the Magna Carter, John Locke and John Stuart Mill, and its rich intellectual tradition as the birthplace of Western liberty has provided the judicial theater for this egregious Saudi assault on American freedom speech.

Please attend our event on September 10th at the Congressional Auditorium where you will have the opportunity to hear Dr. Ehrenfeld directly, and other courageous warriors in the battle to tell the truth against the far-reaching grip of the Saudi Royal Family.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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