Robert Spencer calls the late Robert O. Collins a "victim of dhimmitude," and he most certainly was. The esteemed scholar of Africa's Upper Nile Valley, particularly Sudan, who died of cancer at 75 in Santa Barbara earlier this month, was the author or co-author of some thirty books on the subject, many of which became required reading for students of the field. But it was his 2006 book, co-written with J. Millard Burr, that turned him into rebel against the jihad. The book was Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World. When the egregious Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz (the same Mahfouz whome valiant Rachel Ehrenfeld is so far pummeling in US courts) sued Cambridge University Press for "defamation"--the book links Mahfouz to a group of financiers backing Osama bin Laden--Cambridge University Press didn't even attempt to defend its book, its authors or freedom of speech. The once-venerable press instead capitulated to Mahfouz's conditions, which included "pulping" existing copies of the book, asking hundreds of libraries worldwide to do the same, and apologizing. Not Collins. Last year, in an essay he wrote about the case, his indomitable spirit shows through:
Millard Burr and I had adamantly refused to be a party to the humiliating capitulation by CUP and were not about to renounce what we had written. Alms for Jihad had been meticulously researched, our interpretations judicious, our conclusions made in good faith on the available evidence. It is a very detailed analysis of the global reach of Islamic, mostly Saudi, charities to support the spread of fundamental Islam and the Islamist state by any means necessary. When writing Alms for Jihad we identified specific persons, methods, money, how it was laundered, and for what purpose substantiated by over 1,000 references. I had previously warned the editor at CUP, Marigold Acland, that some of this material could prove contentious, and in March 2005 legal advisers for CUP spent a month vetting the book before going into production and finally its publication in March 2006. We were careful when writing Alms for Jihad not to state explicitly that Shaykh Mahfouz was funding terrorism but the overwhelming real and circumstantial evidence presented implicitly could lead the reader to no other conclusion. Court records in the case of U.S. vs. Enaam Arnaout, Director of the Benevolent International Foundation and close associate of Usama bin Ladin, accepted as evidence the “Golden Chain” which the British High Court later refused as evidentiary. The Mawafaq (Blessed Relief) Foundation of Shaykh Mahfouz and its principal donor was declared by the U.S. Treasury “an al-Qaida front that receives funding from wealthy Saudi businessmen” one of whom was the designated terrorist, Yassin al-Qadi who “transferred millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden through charities and trusts like the Muwafaq Foundation.” It appears very strange that the founder of his personal charity and its major donor had no idea where or whom or for what purpose his generosity was being used.
Although the reaction to the settlement by CUP has been regarded by some, like Professor Deborah Lipstadt at Emory University, as a “frightening development” whereby the Saudis “systematically, case by case, book by book” are shutting down public discourse on terrorism and intimidating publishers from accepting manuscripts critical of the Saudis, there still remains the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and written text in the world of the Internet protected by the First Amendment. Ironically, the eleven points of the Mahfouz suit against CUP amount to little more than a large footnote, a trivial fraction of the wealth of information in Alms for Jihad that cannot be found elsewhere. The Shaykh can burn the books in Britain, but he cannot prevent the recovery of the copyright by the authors nor their search for a U. S. publisher to reprint a new edition of Alms for Jihad for those who have been seeking a copy in the global market place.
Robert O. Collins, RIP.