As Saudi petrodollars buy influence throughout the world for the Islamic feudal kingdom that finances world terrorism and propaganda, the US Second District Court of Appeals in New York just gave America a breath of fresh air.
Lawyers for terrorism researcher and author Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil, a book about Saudi financial influence in promoting worldwide jihad, overturned a lower US court's ruling allowing a default judgment for libel against Ehrenfeld awarded in a British court of law that was obtained by Saudi billionaire Khaled bin Mafhouz that was valid for collection in the United States.
Mafhouz, with the financial ability to "shop" for a court and judge, sued Ehrenfeld in a British court of law where the test of libel is less strict than is found in the USA and no doubt because he was aware Ehrenfeld lacked the financial resources to pursue an international lawsuit. Ehrenfeld's book only sold 24 copies in the UK, and those were over the Internet which leaves open the possibility Mafhouz had them purchased himself for the lawsuit, but that was sufficient for the British court to hand the Saudi billionaire a default judgment of almost $120,000 (US) that he could use to bankrupt Ehrenfeld in an effort to silence her reporting. The lower American court left open the right of Mafhouz to collect on the judgment in the United States.
In suing Mahfouz here in the USA, Ehrenfeld asked the Federal Court to declare the default judgment against her obtained by bin Mahfouz in England's High Court—details concerning his terror financing as outlined in Funding Evil—as unenforceable in the U.S., and contrary to the free speech protections that all Americans enjoy. The Second US court of Appeals established for the future that other American writers and publishers will not be silenced by Saudi petrodollars and their influence on information in America.
Ehrenfeld takes comfort in the fact that if the US Court of Appeals decides to add jurisdiction over Mafhouz in an American court, Ehrenfeld can demand his financial records in pre-trial discovery to show the validity of her terrorism-financing accusations against Mafhouz for Saudi financing of terrorism that will be made much clearer to the American public.
Judge Wilfred Feinberg who heard the case along with Judges Pierre N. Leval and Jose A. Cabranes and made the ruling for the US Court of Appeals stated that "The question is important to authors, publishers and those, like Mahfouz, who are the subject of books and articles. The issue may implicate the First Amendment rights of many New Yorkers, and thus concerns important public policy of the state. Because the case may lead to personal jurisdiction over many defendants who successfully pursue a suit abroad against a New York citizen, the question before us is also likely to be repeated."
"The bringing of libel actions in foreign courts by non-U.S. citizens against American authors and publications has been on the increase and is an alarming trend," said Daniel Kornstein, Ehrenfeld's attorney.
Ms. Ehrenfeld is head of the New York City-based American Center for Democracy, a group that researches terrorism, primarily in the Middle East. Her other books include Evil Money and Narcoterrorism and she has been a contributor to Front Page Magazine.
Mr. Mahfouz is former president and chief executive officer of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia. His personal wealth has been estimated by Forbes magazine in excess of $3 billion, some of which is alleged to have gone to finance the worldwide jihad and terrorism, but although Mafhouz denies any financial aid went to al Qaeda or to other terrorist groups.