The second largest shareholder in News Corp. -- the parent company of Fox News -- has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to causes linked to the imam planning to build a Muslim community center and mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, says a report from Yahoo!News.
According to the report from Yahoo!'s John Cook, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who owns seven percent of News Corp., "has directly funded [Imam Feisal Abdul] Rauf's projects to the tune of more than $300,000."
Cook reports that Prince Al-Waleed's personal charity, the Kingdom Foundation, donated $305,000 to Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, a project sponsored by two of Rauf's initiatives, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, which is building the Manhattan mosque.
That Fox News' second-largest shareholder, after Rupert Murdoch, has financial links to the "Ground Zero mosque" will be seen as ironic by critics of the news network, who have watched with chagrin as the network's talking heads attempt to link the mosque to radical Islamism.
Last week, Daily Show host Jon Stewart lambasted Fox panelist Eric Bolling's attempt to link the Cordoba Initiative to Hamas and Iran. Stewart used News Corp.'s connections to Prince Al-Waleed, and the prince's connections to the Carlyle Group and Osama bin Laden to make a tongue-in-cheek argument that Fox News may be a "terrorist command center."
"Stewart didn't need to take all those steps to make the connection," Cook writes.
Cook also reports that Prince Al-Waleed has in the past funded a number of Islamic organizations that have been maligned by Fox News commentators:
Al-Waleed donated $500,000 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ã¢â‚¬â€ which has been repeatedly denounced on Fox News's air by Geller and others as a terror group Ã¢â‚¬â€ in 2002. Indeed, Rauf's "numerous ties to CAIR" alone have been cited by the mosque's opponents as a justification for imputing terrorist sympathies to him, yet few people seem to be asking whether Murdoch's extensive multi-billion business collaboration with the man who funds both Rauf and CAIR merits investigation or concern.
Other beneficiaries of Al-Waleed's largess include the Islamic Development Bank, a project designed to "foster the economic development and social progress of [Muslims] in accordance with the principles of Shari'ah." The IDB funds the construction of mosques around the world, and has been implicated by frequent Fox News guest Stephen Schwartz in an attempt to spread radical Wahhabism (a fundamentalist branch of Islam) throughout the United States.
Cook notes that it was none other than News Corp.'s New York Post that reported on Prince Al-Waleed's donation to Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow. He reports that Fox News had no comment for his article, and emails to the prince's Kingdom Foundation were not returned.
Prince Al-Waleed owns an estimated $2.5-billion-worth of News Corp. Majority shareholder Rupert Murdoch recently took a stake in the prince's Middle East-based media conglomerate, Rotana Group. Murdoch and Prince Al-Waleed are reportedly working on launching an Arabic news network that will compete with existing pan-Arabic networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.
(Editor's note: Original article's headline incorrectly referred to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal as co-owner rather than the second largest shareholder.)