Talk:Khalid bin Mahfouz
|This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:|
|It is requested that an image or photograph be included in this article to improve its quality. Please replace this template with a more specific media request template where possible.
The Free Image Search Tool may be able to locate suitable images on Flickr and other web sites.
- 1 Legal contact
- 2 Comments following Quadell's substantial re-write
- 3 A Few Comments
- 4 On the article itself
- 5 Remaining areas of controversy
- 6 father's name
- 7 Inheritance
- 8 Various aspects of the article
- 9 Funding Evil
- 10 Alleged familial relationship with Osama bin Laden
I have been contacted by Kendall Freeman, a law firm in the UK, regarding this article. They say they are acting on behalf of Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz. They take serious exception to significant parts of this article. Apparently we have gotten some facts wrong, probably derived from news sources which have since been corrected. We need to follow suit and correct this article as well.
I will try to find a way to scan their complaint and put it online for editors to review, but in the meantime, some specific points to research include:
1.1 Sheikh Mahfouz claims to have no association with al-Qaeda at all, nor has he even been under investigation by Saudi authorties for this. Neither the UN, EU, US, nor any other government has ever indicated that he is involved with supporting terrorism.
1.2 It is denied that any audit of NCB exists which uncovered transfers to charities linked to terrorism. In 28 October 2001, the Chicago Tribune quoted an NCB official saying "I can tell you absolutely, categorically there was no such audit..."
1.3 Sheikh Mahfouz has never been placed under house arrest by the Saudi Government.
1.4 Another article of ours, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States claims that Mahfouz is the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. This is denied.
1.5 Regarding this allegation of him being brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, leading publications have printed corrections... Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, L.A., Times, etc.
1.6 The stuff about BCCI needs to be investigated more carefully. BCCI as an organization got in a lot of trouble, but not Mahfouz personally.
1.7 Sheikh Mahfouz has never had any ownership interest in Delta Oil.
1.8 We are asked to report accurately on the recent settlements between The Mail on Sunday and Pluto Press/Michael Griffen. I think this was a libel case in the U.K.
Jimbo Wales 17:30, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)
This refers to 1.8:
-  - it was a libel action in the UK by Kendall Freeman acting on behalf of Sheikh Khalid and Nimir Petroleum.
Pluto's apology is here:
Wow. This calls for some serious detective work. Here's what I've found.
Since a lot of the alleged wrongdoing occurred in Saudi Arabia (or other contries not known for their sunshine laws), it's difficult to get hard-and-fast facts. Khalid's knee-jerk litigation makes it even less likely that good articles will be published. (There are similar problems when researching Scientology.) Here's what I know.
- Regarding Khalid's familial relation to Osama bin Laden: CIA director James Woolsey stated in sworn testimony on the Senate floor that Khalid's sister was one of Osama's many wives, making the two brothers-in-law. The LA Times, Fortune Magazine, Washington Post, USA Today, and many others also stated that they were brothers-in-law. One by one, Khalid's lawyers sued each publication, and got a retraction. Woolsey has since retracted his statement, saying "I don't know what to say other than there was some confusion, but I never meant to refer to bin Mahfouz's sister." He has not (to my knowlege) specifically denied his statement; he only retracted it. I don't know if they are brothers-in-law or not. I don't find it particularly important one way or the other, but Khalid's lawyers certainly do. I don't know much about international libel law; couldn't we just summarize the above in the article?
- Regarding early ties to Osama bin Laden: Craig Unger's book House of Bush, House of Saud claims that Khalid donate a quarter million dollars to bin Laden's organization which would later evolve into al-Qaeda. Khalid does not deny this, but his lawyer claims "This donation was to assist the US-sponsored resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and was never intended nor, to the best of Sheikh Khalid's knowledge, ever used to fund any `extension' of that resistance movement in other countries."
- Regarding ties to al-Qaeda through Muwaffaq: Forbes reports:
- Khalid bin Mahfouz has been under scrutiny ever since the U.S. Treasury Department named the Muwaffaq charity as an al Qaeda front in October. His eldest son, Abdulrahman, had been a board member of the charity, though a family spokesman denies any wrongdoing.
Also from Forbes, this:
- [Abdulrahman] had been a board member of the Muwaffaq ("blessed relief") Foundation, a charity that the U.S. Treasury Department labeled a front for Al-Qaeda in October . The U.S. government has not accused Khalid and his family, estimated to be worth $1.7 billion, of funding terrorism, despite Abdulrahman's acknowledgment to FORBES GLOBAL that the foundation was the brainchild of [Khalid bin Mahfouz], who funded it with as much as $30 million. Yasin al-Qadi, the Saudi hired to run the charity, has had his assets iced by the Treasury, which calls him a supporter of terrorism.
and later in the article:
- The U.S. Treasury put a spotlight on Muwaffaq in October, describing it as "an Al-Qaeda front that receives funding from wealthy Saudi businessmen." Abdulrahman calls the label "demonstrably false"
Khalid claims that if the charity ever funded terrorists, he wasn't aware of it.
- Regarding ties to al-Qaeda through NCB: There is still-emerging evidence that Khalid's bank, National Commercial Bank (NCB), funded terrorism. Here's what an American Freedom News report says on this:
- According to the AFN report, five top Saudi businessmen ordered the Mahfouz-controlled National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia to transfer personal funds and $3 million from a Saudi pension fund to the Capitol Trust Bank in New York City. According to the AFN report, the money was deposited in charities "operating in the US and Great Britain as fronts for Osama bin Laden."
Khalid again pleads ignorance, through his lawyers, here:
- "Like upper management at any other major banking institution, Khalid Bin Mahfouz was not, of course, aware of every wire transfer moving through the bank. Had he known of any transfers that were going to fund al-Qaeda or terrorism, he would not have permitted them. At no time did Khalid Bin Mahfouz have any knowledge or reason to believe that members of the Saudi royal family were transferring funds to Muslim charities that were sending funds to al-Qaeda."
- Regarding house arrest: There are numerous reports that "In 1999, the Saudi's placed bin Mahfouz under house arrest after reportedly discovering that the bank he controlled, National Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia, funneled millions to charities believed to be serving as bin Laden fronts." (See here, for one example.) Khalid denies this. It seems to be a matter of Khalid saying he was sick and stayed home, but was not under house arrest, and the Saudis aren't saying either way. But I don't know for sure.
- Regarding BCCI: According to a Congressional Report here,
- Khalid bin Mahfouz, head of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia and the most powerful banker in the Middle East. Bin Mahfouz had purchased shares of both BCCI and CCAH under a complex agreement that would permit him to purchase both banks, or to hold his interests temporarily with BCCI guaranteeing to buy them back at no risk to bin Mahfouz. After auditors for National Commercial Bank raised questions about bin Mahfouz's actions regarding BCCI, the transactions were fully unwound by 1989, leaving the First American problem for BCCI unsolved.
And Forbes reports:
- A New York state grand jury indicted Khalid for fraud, and the U.S. Federal Reserve alleged that he breached banking regulations. He denied any wrongdoing. The charges were dropped in 1993, but only after Khalid agreed to pay $225 million, including $37 million in lieu of fines. Khalid together with NCB was also involved in a separate $253 million deal to settle claims with BCCI's creditors.
I wouldn't say Khalid stayed out of trouble in the scandal. I'd say he narrowly escaped a jail sentence.
- Regarding the audits of NCB: It had been stated openly that the Saudi government had audited NCB because of its many bad loans, some of which were made to Khalid himself. Then Khalid denied the audit, and when people looked, no one could turn up any evidence that NCB was ever officially audited by the Saudi government. (The Saudi government is characteristically mum on the matter.) But we do know this, as Forbes reports:
- Things got so nasty that in 1999 the [Saudi] government stepped in, buying a controlling 50% stake of NCB from Khalid for at least $1 billion, partly used to wipe Khalid's debt from the books. Khalid and his family retained 34% ownership, but he again surrendered his management positions. . . The extent of Khalid's mismanagement at NCB remains shrouded. NCB has not issued audited numbers since 1998, but it did acknowledge last year that provisions for bad loans in 1999 and 2000 reached $934 million, covering 86% of its doubtful debt.
So was there an official audit? Who knows? (How official are these things in Saudi Arabia?) But they clearly deserved an audit, the government was clearly involved in cleaning up after Khalid's financial malfeasance.
- Regarding Khalid's status, according to international groups: Khalid claims "To the best of our knowledge, the UN has never published any report citing Khalid bin Mahfouz in any context whatsoever." However, the JBC Consulting Group (which claims it is the "world expert on terrorism financing") was asked to prepare a report for the President of the Security Council of the United Nations in December of 2002. They listed Khalid as one of seven "Main individual Saudi sponsors of al Qaeda."
So put it all together, and what do you have? They guy is probably a life-long terrorist financier who has funnelled money to bin Laden since the 70s, drove the bank BCCI into the ground while financing more terrorism, did the same with his new bank NCB, was arrested by the Saudi authorities, gave his sister to bin Laden as a wife, set up a charity through his son that fund terrorism even further, and browbeat everyone who brings this up into silence through libel suits. But on the other hand, he could be just an innocent banker with bad luck and a lot of libellers. There's plenty of room for doubt, and he's got all the lawyers that $1.7 billion can buy. So what do we do?
- Well, we could replace the current page with: This page has been removed under threat of litigation that Wikipedia cannot afford to defend itself against. Which makes the point, and the lawyers might not notice the history. Not ideal, but hell, even if we can find indisputable evidence of every point they can still sue us into the ground. I personally favor going the McLibel route, but then again, I'm not the one who got the letter or who'd be facing the legal bills. Tualha 20:35, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I've removed the disputed items pending further investigation. -- Tim Starling 01:53, Jul 9, 2004 (UTC)
"Connections to terrorism"
I'm not wading into editing the article itself -- I'm sure some far more knowledgable people than I are in here -- but just from an editorial point of view, I would change the section heading "Connections to terrorism" to "Allegations of connections to terrorism". Also, I think I would change"
- "Bin Mahfouz has been accused of funding al-Qaida by transferring funds from NCB to various Islamic charities linked to al-Qaida. However, bin Mahfouz denies any knowledge of these wire transfers, noting that just because they occurred in his bank doesn't mean he was involved with them. It was also claimed that he is a brother-in-law to Osama bin Laden, a claim similarly denied by bin Mahfouz. These allegations were put forward in various media publications, however all major sources have since issued retractions."
- "Bin Mahfouz has been accused in various media publications of funding al-Qaida, but all major sources have since issued retractions. Among the retracted allegations were that he transfered funds from NCB to various Islamic charities linked to al-Qaida. Bin Mahfouz denies any knowledge of these wire transfers, noting that just because they occurred in his bank doesn't mean he was involved with them.
- "It was also claimed [specific citations would be good here] that he is a brother-in-law to Osama bin Laden, a claim similarly denied by bin Mahfouz."
I don't intend to watch this page, so if anyone wants to discuss my remarks with me, please ping my talk page.
Jmabel 04:19, Jul 9, 2004 (UTC)
Comments following Quadell's substantial re-write
I'm just another editor who doesn't know much about the subject but does want to see an article that simultaneously
- is factual, neutral and complete
- doesn't get Wikipedia sued (the Wikimedia Foundation has no means to afford it)
All being well achieving 1) will achieve 2) despite Quadell's apparent concerns to the contrary.
Specific comments following the re-write:
- On supposedly being OBL brother-in-law: One CIA guy said that there was such a familial relationship. A load of newspapers reported that one guy's comments. All those newspapers subsequently retracted the statement. The original guy testified in court that he made a mistake. In the absence of any other facts, doesn't our article still give too much credence to the original statement? Shouldn't we switch it round a bit?
- Re point 1.8: Why don't we be more specific about (some of) the court cases the Sheikh has won? After all they are significant events in his life. Why not mention, for instance, the Mail on Sunday and Pluto Press libel cases? See also http://www.guardian.co.uk/saudi/story/0,11599,1063697,00.html. Pcb21| Pete 17:00, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Those sound like good, solid ideas. By the way, I sincerely hope (1) will acheive (2), for Wikipedia's sake. I think the article, as it stands, is factual. It looks neutral to me, but it can always be improved. And I hope it gets more and more complete as time goes on. Quadell (talk) 18:31, Jul 9, 2004 (UTC)
A Few Comments
Quadell - you need to tighten up your sources - most seem to be from Forbes - has Forbes issued a retraction? The link to an American Freedom News site isn't - it's to a Pakistani newspaper. We need to find actual facts here - and links to sources that haven't been retracted, and that are credible.
As the lawyers are based in the UK I wonder whether this would be a libel trial under UK law? UK libel law is different from US libel law - there was a case years ago regarding a website that got sued because it was accessible in the UK (I think) - we need to check the details. Secretlondon 01:26, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Our article on Slander and libel points out that commonwealth libel doesn't require malice - "Other systems, such as that of England and Wales require only that the statements be false and defamatory.". There is caselaw in Australia Gutnick v Dow Jones regarding the juristiction of internet libel. This is written by a Scottish solicitor regarding juristiction in internet libel. It does seem that Wikipedia could get sued in the UK courts - and UK libel laws are seen to be plaintiff friendly. It may also make horrible case law.
I think we need to work out the following:
- Can we defend our claims?
- Are we liable to be sued under English law (which seems quite possible)
Even if we decide to drop this I think we need advice on online legal juristiction. It's not clearcut that Wikipedia is only under the juristiction of US law. Of course - IANAL - just a researcher. Secretlondon 02:00, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
We probably need to consider Godfrey vs Demon Internet as well in which an academic sued a UK ISP for disseminating a newsgroup with defamatory contest. The comment was written by an American but "published" by a UK ISP.Secretlondon 02:14, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Gutnik v. Dow Jones contains the following: "Under the draft Hague Convention (The Draft Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters, proposed by the Hague Conference on Private International law, adopted by the special commission on 30 October 1999. See Law of Defamation and the Internet (doctoral dissertation by Dr Matt Collins of the Victorian Bar to be published by OUP in October 2001 Chapter 24.) , a plaintiff will be able to recover the whole of the damages suffered by reason of defamatory Internet publication by suing in the courts of the State in which either the defendant (Article 3) or the plaintiff (Article 10.14) is habitually resident." (point 74 from ).
The US has a "single publication rule" but this does not seem to be the norm. Secretlondon 02:25, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
This article from The Economist also makes interesting reading. "However, the outcome of the Australian case may not be as damaging as these companies fear. For one thing, it was not much of a surprise. Settled law in most countries has long allowed defamation suits to be brought against publishers wherever their publication is circulated, irrespective of where they based their operations or did their printing. For example, Britain, where libel laws have long favoured the plaintiff, has always been a favourite forum for such suits, even against foreign newspapers with minimal circulations in Britain. Similar cases in the United States have allowed plaintiffs to sue locally, though no American state libel laws are as restrictive of press freedoms as British laws." (Economist December 10th, 2002)
Libel laws in Britain are very strict. If A writes about B, and this harms B in some way, then even if A has the best intentions in the world, B can demand that A retract the statement and issue a correction if A's statement is false. If A refuses, B can sue A. And if B can show that the statement was both harmful and untrue. I have offered a few personal comments on this dispute on my user page. Quadell (talk) 14:22, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)
- I don't think your understanding of English libel law is quite perfect. Try reading some of the background documentation to the McLibel case to make your hair stand on end. In the example above, the onus is on A to prove that every allegation made against B is true in every respect, otherwise A will lose -- B does not have to prove any material loss at all. On your user page you say that all Wikipedia has to do avoid being sued is to take the article down: this is not the case -- Godfrey v Demon Internet, although that did not come to a conclusion (Demon settled first), clearly showed that the courts were minded to take a harsh view of the activities of the publisher of an alleged libel who did nothing once they had been put on notice. I don't know exactly what the lawyers wrote to Jimbo last week, but I am extremely concerned that nothing has yet been done to stop Wikipedia from continuing to publish the alleged libel. At the very minimum I would urge that we revert without delay to Tim Starling's version of 9th July and stick a "The content of this article is disputed" notice on the top. We do not want to get involved in a libel case in the English courts -- senior lawyers cost around $10,000 a day each, and the loser pays for both sides (and each side may have more than one lawyer). The McLibel people are taking the UK government to the European Court of Human Rights next September about the unfairness of the libel laws, but even if they win it's not a situation we would want to be in. -- Arwel 14:56, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
- I'm not a lawyer; I'm not even English. I hadn't known the libel laws were that bad.
- I feel strongly that it would be a shame if anyone could prevent Wikipedia from writing about them just by threatening a suit in England.
- In my humble opinion, the current version is as safe and more complete than Tim Starling's 8 July version.
- Quadell (talk) 15:40, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)
On the article itself
- Guardian October 16, 2001 has more.
- UK Charity Commission report on Interpal gives an interesting insight. Interpal was designated a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" organisation for allegedly supporting Hamas’ political or violent militant activities.". However when the UK Charity Commission asked for evidence the US government didn't provide any. Case closed - accounts unfrozen. Secretlondon 03:16, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
- Yasin Al-Qadi is on the list of terrorist supporters published by the Bank of England #64
Name 6: AL-QADI 1: YASIN 2: n/a 3: n/a 4: n/a 5: n/a. a.k.a: (1) KADI, Shaykh, Yassin, Abdullah (2) KAHDI, Yasin Other Information: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qa'ida Listed on: 12/10/2001.
- I listed it as interesting example as the US government claimed it was connected to terrorism, a friendly government asked for evidence and none was provided. We need to be aware that there is a strong political dimension to all of this. There is no connection between the two as far as I know. I have no idea whether any other additions to the US's terrorist list have been audited in any way.Secretlondon 21:26, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Remaining areas of controversy
Should this article get a NPOV dispute label? Or an accuracy dispute label? At any rate, the following issues still need to be ironed out.
- Regarding the Alleged familial relationship with Osama bin Laden section, PCB1 has suggested that this section might need to be reworded. If all news articles are based on a single misstatement, then perhaps this should section is less important than it is written to seem. I had been under the impression that the news outlets had other information than Woolsey's statement to suggest the familial connection, but I don't know if that's true. If this section is to be re-written, I'm probably not the best person to do it. Should it be rewritten? Any takers?
- PCB1 also suggested we should mention more about the cases Mahfouz has won. I think this is a great idea, and it resolves one of Mahfouz's lawyer's complaints. Any takers?
- Jimbo asked that we tighten up the Alleged NCB funding of al-Qaeda section to indicate who is making the claim. Unfortunately, in my research, I couldn't find any reputable source to claim that NCB was involved in the funding -- I only found some personal pages that made the claim, and I found Mahfouz's partial denial. I thought the denial was very interesting, and worthy of inclusion. Can anyone find a source for the accusation? If not, how should we handle this?
- UN Designation: However the JBC Consulting Group was asked to prepare a report... by whom? Bin Mahfouz's website seems to strongly imply that JBC produced the report on their own initiative and the UN denied commissioning it. -- Arwel 22:39, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Hello-- I am very surprised to see that Kendall Freeman had no comment on the Arbusto relationship, as articles published elsewhere on the net have been careful to say the relationship has not been proven. Can we take this failure to deny as a tacit admission?
How can he be the son of Salim Ahmed bin Mahfouz? If he was he'd be Khalid bin Salim.
His father's name was Mohammed.
- -- I guess in this case "Bin Mahfouz" is a surname like "Bin Laden" or the "Ben something" surnames typical for Tunisia. However, it is in fact originating in a father's name of some of his ancestors. His full name in this sense would be something like "Sheikh Khalid Bin Salem Bin Ahmed Bin Mahfouz". This "surname from father's name" thing actually means that he is from a very low class of society (and we know that he actually was) and his recent ancestors didn't even have a surname. This case is very usual in Arab countries, especially in Egypt. For instance, President Mubarak has a similar story. Mubarak is the name of his grandfather (however, in Egypt "Bin" is not usually used in this case) and his grandfather and his ancestors were poor peasants and did not have a surname.
- PS: I don't know about Mohammed being the name of Khalid Bin Mahfouz's father. I just explained the "Bin something" surname mystery. However, on Khalid Bin Mahfouz's official website they say that his father's name was Salem.
- I'd really appreciate a fuller explanation of this comment. In particular -- only those from a "very low class of society" don't have surnames? Arabic names doesn't say anything about this, so far as I can recall. I thought the traditional style of Arabic names meant no surnames.
"Khalid bin Mahfouz inherited many assets from the Saudi Binladen Group when the group's director, Salem bin Laden, died in a plane crash..." Why did he inherit? Rich Farmbrough 09:12 18 August 2006 (GMT).
Various aspects of the article
With regards to the Irish citizenship, I'm a bit worried about the sentences about the Haughey and Reynolds administrations being controversial. Unless someone has specifically alleged that bin Mahfouz's citizenship was illegitimate, it would seem to be original research to suggest illegitimacy, even if the paragraph article goes on to deny it.
There are some terms that may not be of encyclopedic tone, such as:
- "NCB senior officials vehemently deny" (replace with strongly?)
- "Khalid bin Mahfouz claims that he was not aware" (replace with says?)
- "a huge financial conglomerate" (replace with large or very large?)
Ideally, the wikilink to libel tourism should be the result of citing an article specifically alleging that bin Mahfouz engages in libel tourism, rather than seeming to be the result of original research. Andjam 14:31, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
- The word "vehemently" was actually used in a statement given by NCB officials to the Trib. "Claims" is more accurate and meaningful than merely "says" or "states", as his claim is subject to some dispute. Good catch on the "huge", though, that adjective served little purpose. The inclusion of a link to libel tourism is also a bit too much of a sly jab.
- I intend to restore the section on Mahfouz's ties to Bush after finding some decent sources. ˉˉanetode╦╩ 19:04, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
Is there no reference to the Ehrenfeld libel suit in this article because of legal fears, or just inertia? It is extensively covered in the Rachel Ehrenfeld and Funding Evil articles. Grover cleveland (talk) 05:25, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
Alleged familial relationship with Osama bin Laden
Any family ties between bin Mahfouz and Bin Laden has been proven wrong, therefore I don't see the point of keeping this false rumor on this article, it only makes things more confusing, and Wikipedia's intent is not to list all the fake rumors that feed the reputation of rich folks. I am removing it, please argue here if you think it should be reinserted in the article:
Alleged familial relationship with Osama bin Laden:In United States Senate testimony in 1998, Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey stated (wrongly, and later retracted) that bin Mahfouz's sister is a wife of Osama bin Laden, making the two brothers-in-law. Bin Mahfouz has consistently denied this. Many publications, including The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, the Washington Post, and USA Today, reported that the two were brothers-in-law. Each publication has since issued a retraction, sometimes after lengthy litigation.
In the libel trial against him, Woolsey testified that bin Mahfouz had been misidentified. Woolsey later stated, "I don't know what to say other than there was some confusion, but I never meant to refer to Bin Mahfouz's sister."