We start our tour with the Sunday Times, which reported that Britain’s Crown Prince Charles “accepted payments worth £1m from the family of Osama bin Laden”.
And the newspaper pointed out in a report that Prince Charles “received the money from Bakr bin Laden and his brother, Shafiq,” noting that the two are half-brothers of Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al-Qaeda.
According to the report, Charles, 73, met Bakr, 76, at Clarence House in London on October 30, 2013, two years after the killing of Osama bin Laden by US special forces in Pakistan.
The newspaper said the Prince of Wales agreed to the money despite initial objections from advisers at Clarence House Palace and the Prince of Wales Charitable Trust, where the money was donated.
The Sunday Times quoted sources as saying that several of Charles’s advisers had asked him to return the money.
According to the Sunday Times, a palace employee said that leaking the news to the media “would spark national outrage,” warning the prince that “it would not be good for anyone if it turns out that he accepted money from the family of the mastermind of the worst terrorist attack in history.”
“Another adviser urged the prince to return the money. He told the prince that he would suffer serious reputational damage if his name appeared in the same sentence as the terrorist who was responsible for the deaths of 67 Britons along with thousands of Americans,” the report said.
It is believed that Prince Charles was too embarrassed to return the money, and feared interpretations of this behavior, according to the newspaper.
The newspaper quoted the head of the Prince Charles Foundation as saying that these donations were approved by the trustees at the time. It also quoted a source in Clarence House Palace as saying that the decision was the prerogative of the Board of Trustees.
The newspaper stated that there is no evidence that Bakr or Shafiq was connected to any terrorist acts.
The disclosure of these donations comes a month after a Sunday Times investigation reported that Charles accepted a bag containing one million euros in cash from Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar.
According to the newspaper, these developments will raise “new questions about the prince’s behavior.”
Last year, the Sunday Times revealed that Prince Charles handed a British medal to the Saudi businessman, Mahfouz Merhi Mubarak bin Mahfouz, in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
According to the newspaper, aides told Mahfouz’s representatives that he would receive a “special friendship” and honor if he made millions in donations. This issue is the focus of a British police investigation.
Charles, who held undisclosed meetings with Mahfouz in London and Riyadh, denied any knowledge of the sale of the medal.
The newspaper pointed out that it is not the first time that questions have arisen about the prince’s relationship with the bin Laden family. He made headlines after it was revealed that he had dinner with Bakr to discuss Islamic faith in October 2001, just two weeks after the September 11 attacks. According to an account of their first meeting in 2000, the two were introduced by Prince Khaled al-Faisal al-Saud during a fundraising dinner for the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, which Charles sponsors.
Russian influence in Africa
We turn to the Telegraph, which dealt with Russia’s desire to strengthen its influence on the African continent, in the face of attempts to isolate it after the invasion of Ukraine.
According to an opinion piece by Theodor Murphy, director of the Africa Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has spent the past days trying to use Africa to score points against the West on a tour that included Ethiopia, Uganda, Egypt and the Republic of Congo.
The writer said that Lavrov “came with gifts in the form of nuclear energy development – although it is unlikely to come true – to create an image that Russia is expanding into new areas of cooperation.”
According to the article, Lavov was keen to stick to “Russia’s outdated strategy of creating political capital by providing cover against criticism from the West.”
The writer said: “It is clear that the purpose of the visit is to convey that Russia’s global footprint is expanding and that it is winning the war of international public opinion.”
He added that “there is a deeper intent, as Moscow hopes to provoke the West”, by forcing African countries to choose their side in the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.
“Claims that the West is losing Africa are exaggerated,” Murphy noted.
Although Africa seeks to increase its self-sufficiency, it remains deeply dependent on international aid and investment.
“Africa, increasingly courted by international suitors – as a source of resources and for its burgeoning consumer markets – is recognizing its growing power potential,” he added.
“But at the moment, Africa remains in a weaker position in the face of its suitors. To strengthen its hold, Africa needs to court as many countries as possible.”
“African leaders fear that their demand to sever ties with an important international partner, Russia, may set a precedent. China is likely to be the next step, sacrificing this most important relationship is unthinkable for most Africans,” he said.
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