Mayor Rejects Prince's $10M Donation
October 11, 2001
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani rejected a $10 million donation to the Twin Towers fund from a Saudi prince today after learning that the billionaire followed the gift with a press release that stated that Israelis slaughtered Palestinians daily and blamed American policies toward Israel for the attacks on the World Trade Center.
“We are not accepting the check, said Sunny Mindel, the mayor’s director of communication.
Amjed Shacker, a spokesman for Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the man’s sixth richest man, was not aware of the check until a reporter informed him.
“I have not told the prince anything,” Shacker said as he was about to board a plan returning to Saudi Arabia. “This is the first time I heard that the check was not accepted. We have no official position on the matter.”
Giuliani had criticized the prince's statement in an earlier news conference.
“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 4,000 or 5,000 people.
Talal, a major investor in American companies and one of hundreds of princes in the Saudi royal family, toured Ground Zero earlier today and called it “a tremendous crime.”
“It’s just unbelievable,” he said. “We are here to tell America and to tell New York that Saudi Arabia is with the United States wholeheartedly.”
But in a statement distributed by an aide, the prince said that “at times like this one we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack.”
“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,” Alwaleed said. “Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek.”
Giuliani refuted the prince’s words. “Not only are these statements wrong,” he said, “they are part of the problem.”
Giuliani said the total number of missing and dead stands at 5,160 — 4,776 missing and 384 victims identified. The mayor said he expected the final death total to be in that range.
A total of 442 bodies have been recovered, up 20 from a day earlier, he said.
Relatives have registered 4,439 missing at the family center and 1,547 familes have applied for death certificates. Despite the passage of time, the family center is still serving between 1,400 and 1,500 people a day, Giuliani said.
“Their work is as difficult as the work of the rescue people,” he said.
He also praised the cleanup crews at the site, who have removed 279,821 tons of debris.
“They have performed absolute miracles in the way in which they have removed the debris, removed the structures and gotten it open,” Giuliani said.
Work will continue at the site 24 hours a day until the site is cleared, officials said.
As more debris is removed, the area will become smokier, said Richard Sheirer, director fo the Office of Emergency Management.
The temperatures are very high in the debris pile, in the thousands of degrees, he explained. As more of the hot debris is exposed to oxygen, the ruins smoke more.
“It won’t stop until we get near the bottom,” he said.
Buildings surrounding the site are also being monitored monthly, probably for the next year, to ensure structural integrity. Officials said they see no reason that any removal operations with destablize the other buildings.
The ban on single-occupancy cars entering the city from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. is having a positive impact on traffic, according to city officials.
The numbers continue to stay below the daily average and drivers are beginning an earlier commute with traffic starting from 5-6 a.m. on the Williamsburg and Queensboro bridges.
The volume of traffic continued to stay low today on East River crossings and the Midtown tunnel despite today not being a religious holiday and regular alternate side parking rules being enforced.
Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.
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