- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

NEW YORK Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani rejected a $10 million disaster-relief check from a Saudi Arabian prince yesterday after the visiting potentate attacked American policy on the Middle East.
Describing the statements made by Prince Al-Walid bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz as "highly irresponsible and very, very dangerous," the mayor said that the Twin Towers Fund he heads would not accept the money.
The mayor conducted the prince and his entourage on a tour of the World Trade Center site early in the day. The visit, said the mayor, was part of an effort sponsored by the White House and the State Department to broaden the international coalition against terrorism.
In interviews with reporters at the site, the prince cited the friendship between his country and the United States and charged that warlord Osama bin Laden does not belong to Islam or any religion in the world.
However, even as he spoke, the prince's press representative was handing out a statement criticizing U.S. policy.
"At times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack," the statement said. "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."
Later, at a press briefing, a reporter informed the mayor of the prince's comments.
"I entirely reject that statement," said the mayor, his voice tightening. "There is no moral equivalent for this act. There is no justification for it. 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 there is a justification for it only invites it happening in the future."
Asked whether he would accept the check, Mr. Giuliani said he would consult with the State Department. However, shortly after the briefing, his office released a statement. "When we became aware of Prince Walid's statements, we investigated whether the check had been deposited. The check has not been deposited. The Twin Towers fund has not accepted it."
The prince, a nephew of King Fahd, is a major investor in American companies, including Citigroup, AOL, Time Warner, News Corp and Saks Fifth Avenue. With a fortune estimated at $20.3 billion, he is ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's sixth wealthiest investor.
One month after the attack, fires are still burning deep in the wreckage of what was once the World Trade Center. Firemen working on the site say that when a body or part of one is found, they pause for a moment of prayer.
The amount of steel and debris removed since the rescuers began their round-the-clock labors: 279,821 tons. The latest number of those who died or disappeared in the WTC collapse: 5,160.
The workers took a brief break yesterday at 8:48 a.m. one month to the minute since the first of two airliners slammed into the twin towers.
City officials and rescuers murmured a silent prayer and bagpipes wailed "Amazing Grace."
"Sometimes it feels like yesterday, and sometimes it feels like a year ago, or more," Mr. Giuliani said of the month that has passed since the attacks.
Rescue workers have yet to penetrate the six below-ground parking levels where the heat is estimated to be "in the thousands of degrees." The excavation of the site allows oxygen to reach the smoldering subterranean rubble, fanning the flames.
The area media continues to report the stories of those who died in the inferno now known as ground zero.
The obituary listings in New York's newspapers, which multiplied into several pages in the first days after the disaster, have leveled off. Still, the words "World Trade Center victim" permeate the columns of the dead.
Dozens of funerals every day are now part of the post-disaster city, a constant reminder of the attacks. The Fire Department, which lost 343 men in the WTC collapse, has held funeral services for one-third of those lost, but there are few bodies to bury.
"We're about a third of the way through," said a weary fireman.

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