Fox News has long been considered a beacon to those that distrust televised liberal media, meaning every channel other than Fox. One of the indicators of the station’s right-leaning bent is that it has, for the most part, gotten the ‘War on Terrorism’ correct. However, with the undue influence of a Saudi Prince related to militant causes and with this month’s acquisition of Beliefnet, a religious resource website that proudly promotes radical Islam, signs show that the war coverage may soon be taking a turn for the worse.
In September of 2005, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal purchased 5.46 per cent of Class B voting shares in News Corp, the company that owns Fox News and a number of other media and entertainment entities. This had replaced the three per cent stake in Class A non-voting shares bin Talal had previously held through his investment corporation, Kingdom Holding Company (KHC).
With his newfound voting rights, bin Talal stated his intention of supporting Rupert Murdoch, the principal owner of News Corp, helping Murdoch to stay in power and avoid hostile takeover by other interested investors. Some have said that this was like making a deal with the devil, as Murdoch has been left vulnerable to the whims of an individual that has been involved in despicable causes.
In April of 2002, bin Talal had donated $27 million during a Saudi telethon that was raising money for the families of suicide bombers. As well, he had given $500,000 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to be used towards the distribution and propagation of a set of Islamist books for American libraries. The set included Jamal Badawi’s Gender Equity in Islam, which sanctions the beating of women by their husbands, and a version of the Quran, Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s The Meaning of THE HOLY QURAN, which has been banned by the Los Angeles school system.
Utilizing his position of power within Fox News (today, he is the second largest shareholder), bin Talal has worked to influence programming at the station. An infamous example of this was reported in a December 2005 article found in WorldNetDaily, stating:
During the violent street protests in France one month ago, the prince said, Fox News ran a banner at the bottom of the screen that said “Muslim riots.”
“I picked up the phone and called Murdoch ... [and told him] these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty,” al-Walid said.
“Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from Muslim riots to civil riots.”
This incident was precisely the type of scenario that then-Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani tried to avoid, when after the 9/11 attacks, he rejected a $10 million check from bin Talal for the renovation of New York, that was attached to statements made by the Prince critical of the United States’ relationship to Israel. The question now is how many more incidents, such as the one concerning the French Muslim riots, have occured without the notice of the American public? And how far has bin Talal’s influence been able to reach?
The answer to the latter question may very well be in News Corp’s December 4th acquisition of Beliefnet, an internet-based religious information source.
Beliefnet came on the scene, first as a website in February of 2000 and then as a corporation in May of 2000, acting as basically a clearinghouse for religious thought. On the website, each of the world’s major religions were (are) given their own sections. This didn’t seem to be a problem, as favoritism towards one religion over another was nonexistant. However, within the Islam section, extremists began to gain a foothold.
On December 5, 2000, Beliefnet published an exclusive article written by the National Communications Director of the CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper, entitled ‘Why the Fury?’ a.k.a. ‘Why the Rage?’ [The article is still up on Beliefnet.] CAIR was created in June of 1994 as part of the Hamas terror network. Since then, the group has had a number of its officials charged with terrorist activity. Hooper, himself, has refused to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.
On February 8, 2001, Beliefnet, at the top of the homepage of its Islam section, refered to former Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, as a “tyrant” and published an article calling Prime Minister Sharon a “war criminal.” The article, ‘Ariel Sharon: The War Criminal Takes Over,’ like Hooper’s, is still up on Beliefnet.
On October 13, 2001, Beliefnet prominently placed on its website a piece, what it called a “rallying cry,” by then-Vice President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Ingrid Mattson, entitled ‘American Muslims, It’s Time for Us to Lead.’ ISNA, an umbrella group for radical mosques and Islamic centers throughout the United States and Canada, was recently named an “Unindicted Co-conspirator” by the U.S. government in connection to the raising of millions of dollars for Hamas. [As was CAIR.]
On November 5, 2002, Beliefnet (Beliefnet Books) introduced to its audience a compilation of essays, entitled Taking Back Islam, that comprised of pieces authored by a number of Islamists, such as: Mattson; MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati; CAIR National Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar; and Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), who was barred from entry into the United States, in September of 2004, for having suspected ties to terrorists.
Today, Beliefnet’s Islam section is entirely controlled by, and the content of it is entirely consumed by, radical Muslims.
The editor of Beliefnet-Islam is Dilshad Ali. Besides being affiliated with Beliefnet, Ali is also a correspondent for Islam Online, a site that issues religious rulings (Fatwas) in support of Palestinian suicide bombings, terrorist attacks against American troops, and the death penalty for homosexuals, including the throwing of homosexuals from tall buildings (“Death Falls”).
Indeed, as Fox Entertainment Group’s well recognized logo was pasted to Beliefnet, the face of Siraj Wahhaj adorned the site as an “Islamic Inspiration.” Wahhaj, a Brooklyn imam, was named as an “Unindicted Co-Conspirator” to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and served as a witness for the spiritual leader of the attack, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, during Abdel-Rahman’s trial.
Diagonal to Wahhaj’s face was (and currently is) the face of Hesham Hassaballa, a co-founder and former Executive Board member of CAIR-Chicago (CAIR-Illinois) and former writer for CAIR's (dissolved) Independent Writer's Syndicate (IWS). Hassaballa, on his blog, G-d, Faith, and a Pen, has promoted such Hamas-related charities as Islamic Relief and KindHearts.
In addition to the two people just mentioned, on the same page could (can) be seen a fairly large image of Shahed Amanullah, the Director of Beliefnet’s blog, Hungry for Ramadan. Aside from the blog, Amanullah is an advisor to the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), an Islamist political lobby group that has, in the past, defended Hezbollah and has called for Israel's destruction. Beliefnet refers to him as an “award-winning Muslim journalist.”
In announcing the deal between his group and News Corp, Beliefnet’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Waldman praised News Corp, saying that the company has enormous reach and that “its proficiency in the areas of video, social networking and media in general is unsurpassed.” Likewise, Fox executive, Dan Fawcett, lauded Beliefnet, stating: “Beliefnet has garnered respect for its commitment to quality, editorial strength and unbiased approach to faith and spirituality from a broad range of consumers, religious and political leaders, journalists and advertisers.”
But is the “respect” that the Fox exec is speaking of truly derived from the places mentioned or could it be that it is coming from somewhere or someone else? And given all of the above, is it possible that his initials are ABT?
Fox News has a niche in our society. Its greatness is that – just as the station advertises – it has brought “fairness” and “balance” to a left-leaning TV news media and information gathering culture. It would, without a doubt, be a terrible day if that balance, in the near future, should somehow tip towards the enemy.