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For a Few Dollar$ More: How al Qaeda Moved into the Diamond Trade

17th April 2003

Global Witness today launches a detailed report into the links between the diamond trade and international terrorism. The report exposes how al Qaeda devised and carried out a ten-year strategic move into the unregulated diamond trade. It details how al Qaeda easily infiltrated diamond trading networks, by taking advantage of illicit trading structures, weak government and trade regulations. It also organised criminal networks and politically corrupt regimes to raise funds for al Qaeda operatives and to launder significant sums of money.

The report, "For a Few Dollars More, How al Qaeda moved into the diamond trade," presents information showing how two senior al Qaeda operatives, based in Kenya and Tanzania from 1993, established diamond mining and trading companies in order to raise funds. Following the 1998 US embassy bombings three further al Qaeda operatives gained access to the illicit diamond trade in Sierra Leone, then controlled by the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

The report shows how the corrupt regime of President Charles Taylor of Liberia facilitated access for al Qaeda operatives into Sierra Leone and Liberia in exchange for diamonds and weapons. It also presents evidence to show how al Qaeda took advantage of the same illicit diamond trading structures being utilised by Lebanese terror group Hizbullah.

Global Witness questions the failure of governments to significantly address the issue of how al Qaeda and other terrorist entities are using high value commodities. Global Witness also focuses criticism upon the diamond trade for their complete failure to recognise the danger of terrorist involvement in diamond trading and to take action against it.

The report provides recommendations for action to the United Nations, governments and specifically to the diamond trade. The report is released prior to the first Plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process which is being held in Johannesburg from 27-29 April so that governments and the diamond trade can understand the urgent need for the discussion, agreement and the finalisation on the terms of reference for a credible and independent monitoring mechanism to ensure that terroristis access to diamonds is no longer possible.

"The evidence presented in this report of al Qaeda's involvement in the diamond trade is a wake up call to governments, the diamond industry and the Kimberley Process. They must ensure that a credible and effective monitoring mechanism is included as a key component of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Failure to do so will ensure that terrorists and organised crime networks will still have access to the highly lucrative rough diamond trade," said Alex Yearsley, Lead Campaigner at Global Witness.

For press enquiries call Alex Yearsley, Lead Campaigner, Global Witness on + 44 (0) 7968 799 815 or + 44 (0) 7773 812 901. A copy of the report can be found at www.globalwitness.org/reports/

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) ensures that Governments and the diamond industry are required to implement import and export controls on rough diamonds. The KPCS was negotiated by governments, civil society organisations and the diamond trade, in response to civil society campaigning against the trade in conflict diamonds. The KPCS requires the diamond trade to implement self-regulatory measures to combat conflict diamonds, however, to date the trade has failed to develop and implement any credible measures. The KPCS urgently needs to be strengthened to include independent monitoring.

Global Witness is a British based non-governmental organisation that focuses on the role that natural resources play in funding conflict and facilitating corruption. It alerted the world to the issue of conflict diamonds in 1998 and has since campaigned for controls to counter the problem. Itis other campaigns have included successfully cutting off funding to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia by exposing their multi million dollar illegal trade in timber; working to increase fiscal transparency in the oil trade due its negative impact on regional development and campaigning for targeted timber sanctions against the Liberian logging industry for funding regional conflict and instability.
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