Saturday, August 04, 2007

Giving in to the Saudis

Hot Air has been all over this one. The short version: Saudi businessman Khalid bin Mafouz succeeded in bullying British publisher Cambridge University Press into recalling Alms for Jihad by J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins, which was shining too much light on how Saudi money is financing the global jihad. The once-respected publisher has requested retailers and libraries to return all copies so they can be pulped.

Sadly, compliance with the request has been swift and complete, and Cambridge has gone to great lengths to kowtow to bin Mafouz. It seems that Mr. bin Mafouz makes a bit of a habit of bringing suit in Britain against authors and publishers, due to Britain's archaic libel laws which place the burden of proof on the accused. Bin Mafouz has done this no less than seven times, as described on his own web site.

Here's the text of Cambridge's apology:
In 2006 Cambridge University Press published Alms for Jihad written by J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins which made certain defamatory allegations about Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz and his family in connection with the funding of terrorism.

Whilst the allegations were originally published in good faith, Cambridge University Press now recognises that the information upon which they were based was wrong. Cambridge University Press accepts that there is no truth whatsoever in these serious allegations.

Cambridge University Press accepts that the entire Bin Mahfouz family categorically and unreservedly condemns terrorism in all its manifestations, and that at no time has any member of the family contributed to any terrorist organisation, nor has the family ever had reason to believe that funds it has given over the years to a wide variety of charities, including the Muwafaq Foundation, have been used other than for the charitable purposes intended.

Cambridge University Press has given its sincere apologies to Sheikh Khalid and his family for the distress and embarrassment caused, and has undertaken not to publish those allegations or any similar allegations in the future.

To emphasise their regret, Cambridge University Press has agreed to pay Sheikh Khalid substantial damages and to make a contribution to his legal costs, both of which Sheikh Khalid is donating to the charity UNICEF.
Note how Cambridge has recognized and accepted the accusations. Nowhere in the apology do they state that they've determined the accusations to be true.

And if you're thinking of shopping online for a copy of the book, fuhgedaboudit (click an image if you want a full-sized view):

Amazon's not sure when they'll have it again. How does "never" sound?

Alibris? Nope.

AbeBooks? Try again. gives you a glimmer of hope, but when you click "buy"...


Anonymous said...

Hey Eric!

I remembered your post when I read the ALA's OIF blog entry about the book:
"Unless there is an order from a U.S. court, the British settlement is unenforceable in the United States, and libraries are under no legal obligation to return or destroy the book. Libraries are considered to hold title to the individual copy or copies, and it is the library's property to do with as it pleases. Given the intense interest in the book, and the desire of readers to learn about the controversy first hand, we recommend that U.S. libraries keep the book available for their users.

UPDATE: Inside Higher Ed provides an account about the decision of Yale University Press to stand behind an author and his book when a charitable organization filed a libel lawsuit over statements made in Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad. The group withdrew its lawsuit after Yale filed motions seeking to quash the libel suit and to receive legal fees.

The full entry is at


Eric said...

Cool...I wonder what my chances are of finding it on or whatever now.