Cambridge UP to Pulp Book on Saudi Banker


By Carmen Comment

The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s David Glenn reports on Cambridge University Press‘s annoumcement this week that it would pulp all unsold copies of the 2006 book ALMS FOR JIHAD: CHARITY AND TERRORISM IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD, in response to a libel claim filed in England by Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker. The book suggests that businesses and charities associated with Mahfouz financed terrorism in Sudan and elsewhere during the 1990s. “Cambridge University Press now accepts that the entire bin Mahfouz family categorically and unreservedly condemns terrorism in all its manifestations,” a lawyer for Mahfouz declared on Monday in a London courtroom.

The publisher also promised to contact university libraries worldwide and ask them to remove the book from their shelves. It also agreed to pay “substantial damages” to Mahfouz. The book’s authors — Robert O. Collins, a professor emeritus of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and J. Millard Burr, a retired employee of the U.S. State Department — were not personally named in the libel action, and they have refused to endorse the settlement. Interestingly, this is at least fourth case where Mahfouz has sued for libel against authors of books about him and won.