Saudi prince's $10 million refused

Oct. 11, 2001 at 9:37 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The Twin Towers Fund, a charity created after the Sept. 11 attack and collapse of the landmark buildings in Manhattan, rejected a $10 million donation from Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud of Saudi Arabia because of his comments about U.S. foreign policy, according to New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The charity declined the donation for the victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attack hours after it was received after the prince said in a statement that the United States should have a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.

"I entirely reject that statement, it's totally contrary to what I said at the United Nations, that is there is no moral equivalent for this act. There is no justification for it," Giuliani said. "The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered four or five thousand innocent people and to suggest that there's a justification for it only invites this happening in the future.

"It is highly irresponsible and very, very dangerous and one of the reasons I think this happened is because people were engaged in moral equivalency, not understanding the difference between liberal democracies like the United States, like Israel and terrorist states and those who condone terrorism. So I think that not only are those statements wrong they are part of the problem," the mayor said.

The Saudi prince, listed by Forbes magazine as the sixth wealthiest man in the world, attended a memorial service at Ground Zero Thursday, exactly one month after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

"We have come here today to offer out condolences to the people of New York and to condemn terrorism and to donate $10 million," Prince Alwaleed said.

Alwaleed, chairman of Kingdom Holding Co. and reported to have a fortune worth $20 billion, mainly in U.S. equities, gave Giuliani a check for $10 million for the Twin Towers Fund, a fund started by the mayor to aid the families of city workers who lost a family member at the World Trade Center.

But an aide traveling with the prince distributed a statement to the media that spurred refusal of the check.

"However, at times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack," Alwaleed said in the statement. "I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.

"While the UN passed clear resolutions 242 and 338 calling for the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip decades ago, our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek," Alwaleed said.

The statement said the prince strongly advocates peace and believes in dialogue. "Arabs believe that if the U.S. government wanted, it could play a pivotal role in pushing Israel to sign and fully implement a comprehensive peace treaty. We want bloodshed to stop and we want to start working for a better Middle East."

Giuliani said told the UN General Assembly on Oct. 1 that the United Nations must hold accountable any country that supports or condones terrorism.

"The terrorists are wrong, and in fact evil, in their mass destruction of human life in the name of addressing alleged injustices," Giuliani told the UN. "Let those who say that we must understand the reasons for terrorism come with me to the thousands of funerals we are having in New York City and explain those insane, maniacal reasons to the children who will grow up without fathers and mothers, to the parents who have had their children ripped from them for no reason at all."

A brief memorial service was held at Ground Zero and a moment of silence observed at 8:48 a.m. at the exact moment one month ago when a hijacked airliner struck the North Twin Tower of the World Trade Center killing 422 and leaving 4,815 declared missing.

"Sometimes it feels like a year ago or more, this has been the most devastating attack on America, on New York City, ever," Giuliani said. "The fire is still burning. But from it has emerged a stronger spirit, a more unified country, a more unified city, and a more unified world -- in the goal of making certain that something like this never happens again."

As the more than 1,000 firefighters, police and construction workers paused from their 12-hour shift of sifting through the rubble for bodies and body parts through the still smoldering rubble, the mayor and Gov. George Pataki dedicated their efforts in honor of the 343 fallen firefighters, 23 police officers and thousands of civilians lost in the attack.

"In the name of all of those who we lost here -- the firefighters, police officers, the emergency workers, the citizens who were going about their lives, trying to pursue, in their way, the American dream, all of whom are heroes, we remember them, we will always remember them," the mayor said. "To them we will dedicate the rebuilding of New York, and making certain that we do not allow the terrorists in any way to affect our spirit. They attempted to break our spirit. Instead, they have emboldened it."

"America the Beautiful" played by bagpipers, closed the 15-minute service.

(Reporting by Alex Cukan in Albany, N.Y.)

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