Controversy Over Saudi Contributions to American Muslims

December 1, 2002

Source: Los Angeles Times,0,5307913.story

On December 1, 2002 the Los Angeles Times reported that "one of the nation's most prominent Islamic organizations has accepted a $500,000 donation from a Saudi prince, sparking a blunt debate among American Muslims over whether foreign contributions are compromising their independence and the integrity of their organizations. Omar Ahmed, board chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which received the gift, said the donation would be used to support a $2.5-million project aimed at placing Islamic educational material in the nation's 16,000 public libraries. The gift to the council from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd and one of the kingdom's richest men, comes at a time when the Saudi royal family's spending on Muslims in the United States has been the subject of new questions. Last week, it was disclosed that Saudi Princess Haifa al Faisal, the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, apparently gave thousands of dollars to two Saudi nationals in San Diego, who then provided funds to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers. In the U.S., the kingdom reports it has fully or partially financed Islamic centers in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Fresno; Chicago; New York; Washington; Tucson; Raleigh, N.C.; and Toledo, Ohio, among other places, as well as professorships at the University of California, Harvard and elsewhere."