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Shifting Sands of the Alwaleed Desert

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Alwaleed and Murdoch

COMMENT: A widely reported story concerns the “20th [9/11] hijacker” Zaccharias Moussaoui’s accusations that a number of prominent Saudi princes helped finance al-Qaeda, including Prince Alwaleed, the fabulously wealthy investor who was the second largest stockholder in Ruppert Murdoch’s Newscorp.

The day after the report surfaced, we learn that Alwaleed sold almost all of his stock in the firm.

We wonder if the two events might be connected?

“Pre-9/11 Ties Haunt Saudis as New Accusations Surface” by Ben Hubbard and Scott Shane; The New York Times; 2/4/2015.

During the 1980s and ’90s, the historic alliance between the wealthy monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the country’s powerful clerics emerged as the major financier of international jihad, channeling tens of millions of dollars to Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia and elsewhere. Among the project’s major patrons was Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who last month became Saudi Arabia’s king.

Some of those fighters later formed Al Qaeda, which declared war on the United States and later mounted major attacks inside Saudi Arabia as well. . . .

. . . . A third prominent name Mr. Moussaoui listed was Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a fabulously wealthy investor whose television channels air racy music videos and who employs men and women side by side in his offices. . . .

“Murdoch Loses Saudi Ally at News Corp” by Matthew Garrahan, Stephen Foley, Henry Mance and Simeon Kerr; The Financial Times; 2/4/2015.

Rupert Murdoch has lost an important News Corp ally after Prince Alwaleed bin Talal sold most of his stake, a move that could embolden dissident shareholders to challenge Mr Murdoch’s grip on the media company.

Kingdom Holding Company, Prince Alwaleed’s investment vehicle, sold about SR705m ($188m) of B shares in the media company, cutting its stake from 6.6 per cent to 1 per cent. It said it had decided to reduce its stake during a portfolio review, but gave no further explanation. . . .

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