Key Context Missing in Globe article about Saudi donor to Harvard and Georgetown

On December 13th, the Boston Globe reported that Saudi Arabian prince Alwaleed bin Talal is giving $20 million to Harvard University to establish a university-wide program in Islamic studies. He is also donating another $20 million gift to Georgetown University for a similar program.

The article by Charles Radin noted that this is the same Prince Alwaleed who tried to donate $10 million to the Twin Towers Fund for victims. The gift was refused by former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani because of statements by Alwaleed urging the United States to re-examine its Middle East policies with regard to the Palestinian cause. However, Radin writes that “problems with the Alwaleed donation do not seem probable. The prince, who is a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, is widely known for his pro-American views and for his major investments in the United States.” Harvard University’s Middle Eastern studies Web site provides similar complimentary material.

The Globe article, “Saudi Donates $20 Million to Harvard,” missed an important component of this story. Prince Alwaleed had previously pledged another large gift of $27 million during a telethon held in April, 2002 for the benefit of the Saudi Committee for the Support of the al-Quds Intifada. The head of the committee, Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, the Interior Minister, said in a statement: “The committee will continue to provide direct assistance to the families of Palestinian martyrs and those wounded while resisting the occupation (The Times of London 4/23/02).”

Documents captured by the IDF in April of 2002 show that some of the funds provided by the Saudi telethon sponsors went to the “families of martyrs of the Palestinian Intifadah,” a group that includes suicide bombers. Kenneth Timmerman noted in Insight on the News “Saudi Wealth Fuels Global Jihadism (11/11/03)” that documents seized by the Israelis at numerous “charities” and government offices throughout the West Bank “show clearly, money paid by Saudi Arabia was considered as ‘blood money.’ It was used by Hamas as an enticement to murder by providing a guaranteed income to the families of the murderers.”

Timmerman reported that the telethon was hosted by a prominent Saudi-government cleric, Sheikh Saad al-Buraik, who took advantage of the live television coverage to tell his audience:

I am against America until this life ends, until the Day of Judgment, I am against America even if the stone liquefies. My hatred of America, if part of it was contained in the universe, it would collapse. She is the root of all evils and wickedness on Earth … Muslim Brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy, neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don’t you enslave their women? Why don’t you wage jihad? Why don’t you pillage them?

Prince Alwaleed claimed that his telethon pledge would help rebuild Palestinian infrastructure destroyed by Israeli forces, and included a large amount of donated relief goods. However Timmerman cites Israeli documents that offer a different story of how some of the telethon’s money was used. These documents include “payment cycles” made by the Saudi Committee for Support of Intifada al-Quds for more than 300 Palestinian “victims” of the 2000-2001 uprising, many of whom were involved directly in attacks against Israeli civilians.

A report by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) titled “Saudi Arabia finances terror activities (5-9-02),” indicates that the most recent payments to the families of 102 Palestinians who died in 2001, “spelled out in chilling detail the biographies of 36 of the Palestinian ‘victims.’ Eight of them were identified by name in the Saudi documents as suicide bombers. The other 28 were Hamas, Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad military commanders and activists directly involved in planning or executing terrorist attacks.” Among these were the commander of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank, one of the heads of the Islamic Jihad in northern Samaria and the General Secretary of the PFLP.

The IDF report further notes

the systematic and ongoing transfer of large sums of money to the Palestinians… The Saudi Committee for Support of the Intifada Al Quds, headed by the Saudi Interior Minister, stands out. The captured documents demonstrate that the Saudi support was not only of a humanitarian religious nature, as Saudi spokesmen in the U.S. claim. The documents clearly reveal that Saudi Arabia transferred … large sums of money in a systematic and ongoing manner to families of suicide terrorists … [and] to Hamas … According to the captured documents, the Saudi Committee for Support of the Intifada was aware that the funds it transferred were paid to families of terrorists who perpetrated murderous attacks in Israeli cities, in which hundreds of Israelis were killed and wounded. An American woman was also killed in one of these attacks.

The IDF report concludes that persons and entities associated with the Hamas and with Radical Islam are the main beneficiaries of the funds of the Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (also known as the Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Quds Intifada).

That Harvard University and Georgetown University have automatically accepted $20 million dollars each from a major benefactor of a Saudi organization that supports the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and helps fund the terrorist organization Hamas should not be allowed to slip by without mention, particularly since Harvard recently spent over a year “studying” whether to refuse a 2.5 million dollar donation from UAE President Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan because of his links to an organization that spread hatred of Jews and Americans. The Sheikh ended up taking back his donation offer in 2004.

To read the Boston Globe article, click here. (You’ll probably need to register for free to access the article)


Please write to the Boston Globe to register your dismay with their failure to report on Alwaleed bin Talal’s financial support for an organization that reportedly helps fund/support Palestinian terrorism.

Ask that the newspaper do a follow up story reporting on this key information and asking why Harvard refused to immediately accept the donation of Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan without a lengthy period of study, but accepted the Saudi prince’s donation without any such study.

Another interesting angle a reporter might wish to pursue with the Saudi prince: since Muslim-Christian understanding is one of his reported goals, does that mean he similarly has funded such studies in Saudi Arabia, where churches and the public practice of Christianity are banned, where Christians are arrested even for praying in meetings in private homes and where the general population has very little knowledge or understanding of Christianity? See for examples of Saudi persecution of Christians and for instances of virulent anti-Christian rhetoric by Saudi clerics:

Write to the Boston Globe: [email protected]

Letters may be sent by regular mail to this address:

Letters to the Editor
The Boston Globe
P.O. Box 55819
Boston, MA 02205-5819

Or by fax to: (617) 929-2098

If you would like to voice your opinion to Harvard or Georgetown about their decision to accept money from Alwaleed bin Talal, you may write to:

Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University
[email protected]

Office of the President
Harvard University
Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Tel: (617) 495-1501
Fax: (617) 495-8550


President John J. DeGioia
Georgetown University
Office of the President
204 Healy Hall
37th & O Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20057

Tel: (202) 687-4134
Fax: (202) 687-6660

Comments are closed.