In the lead up to the Group of 8 (G8) Summit, Global Witness is calling on G8 governments to combat the financing of international terrorism by taking concrete steps to prevent al Qaeda and other terrorist entities from using diamonds to finance their activities. Tackling international terrorism is one of the four major themes to be focused on at the G8 Summit scheduled for 1-3 June 2003 in Evian, France. At this meeting, G8 governments must take action to ensure that diamonds do not finance conflict and terrorism and show their strong commitment to promoting the effective implementation and monitoring of the Kimberley Process, an international diamond certification scheme to stop diamonds from fuelling conflicts.
Global Witness’ April 2003 report ‘For a Few Dollars More, How al Qaeda moved into the diamond trade’ shows the links between the diamond trade and international terrorism and exposes how al Qaeda devised and carried out a ten-year strategic move into the unregulated diamond trade.
“This report provides compelling evidence of how al Qaeda used diamonds to finance their activities and to launder significant amounts of money,” said Corinna Gilfillan, Campaigner with Global Witness. “G8 governments must follow through on their commitments to break the link between diamonds and conflict by ensuring that the Kimberley Process is effectively implemented and monitored.”
More evidence has come to light showing that al Qaeda is using diamonds to finance its activities and to launder money. David Crane, Chief Prosecutor of the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone, has confirmed publicly that al Qaeda used diamonds to fund its operations. (i) Recently, Nizar Trabelsi, an accused al Qaeda terrorist on trial in Belgium for planning a bomb attack on a US military base, admitted in court that he has dealt in diamonds to finance operations. When questioned about where he received funds, Trabelsi replied: “No, I have a good head for business. I dealt in diamonds and telephone cards…to sell them (diamonds), you do not need to know anything about them.”(ii)
The Kimberley Process has the participation of about 70 governments, including all G8 governments. Participating countries are implementing import/export control regimes to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond trade and fuelling conflicts and human rights abuses.
But the Kimberley Process has a major weakness that governments have failed to address: the need for regular, independent monitoring of all participants’ national diamond control systems to ensure that the process is preventing diamonds from funding terrorism and conflict. The G8 Africa Action Plan released at the 2002 G8 Summit endorsed the Kimberley Process and recognised the link between natural resource exploitation and armed conflict.
“Despite making commitments to tackle these issues, it is deeply troubling that G8 governments so far have failed to take strong measures to prevent terrorists from having access to the highly lucrative diamond trade,” said Gilfillan.
Global Witness is calling on G8 governments to take the following actions:
- Play a leadership role in the design and implementation of a regular and credible monitoring mechanism in the Kimberley Process,
- Play a leadership role in strengthening international anti-terrorist financing efforts to prevent diamonds from financing terrorism.
A copy of Global Witness’ report “For a Few Dollars More, How al Qaeda moved into the diamond trade” is available in pdf format at www.globalwitness.org/reports
(i) “Liberian is Accused of Harboring al Qaeda”, Douglas Farah, Washington Post, 15 May 2003
(ii) “Trabelsi Wanted to Kill Americans”, Report by Mark Eeckhaut, May 28, 2003, FBIS Translated Text.
Press Release / May 30, 2003