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The alleged Tanzanite-terrorist connection

Discussion in 'Jamii Intelligence' started by Kapinga, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. Kapinga

    Kapinga JF-Expert Member

    #1
    Aug 12, 2009
    Joined: Nov 20, 2007
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    The alleged tanzanite-terrorist connection

    In November 2001, Wall Street Journal reporters, the late Daniel Pearl and Robert Block, travelled to the African nation of Tanzania to investigate rumours connecting tanzanite trading as a source of funding for al-Qaeda's international terrorist operations. While in Tanzania, Pearl and Block uncovered a multitude of persuasive evidence that clearly linked al-Qaeda with the illicit trading of tanzanite. In fact, they were shocked to find that al-Qaeda possessed a virtual monopoly over the mining and selling of tanzanite and that its tanzanite monopoly successfully financed significant portions of the group's worldwide terrorist agenda. While much of Tanzania's population currently favours the use of tanzanite trading as a source of funding in support of radical Islam and al-Qaeda, a time formerly existed when Tanzanians would not have endorsed such a relationship with radical Islam.

    For many years, Muslims have made up a significant portion of the Tanzanian population, but most Tanzanian Muslims practised a softer form of Islam that made allowances for Western cultural habits. Early in the 1990s, however, the Tanzanian Islamic community took a turn towards more extreme, fundamentalist practice. In the Tanzanian mining city of Mererani, this rise of fundamental Islam has developed into an international financing effort to support radical terrorist groups through its commodities trade.

    In Mererani, Muslim clerics preach to local miners that their mining is a means of support for the fight against the USA's arrogance. Specifically, they are told that their mining and selling tanzanite to fellow Muslims is a duty in order to support Osama bin Laden. In fact, even if non-Muslims offer to pay higher prices for tanzanite stones, radical fundamentalists will threaten miners into selling stones to fellow fundamentalist Muslims only. Of course, none of this should come as a surprise in a city where local miners often address each other as Osama or jahidini , a Swahili word which roughly translates into Muslim militant.

    As of 2001, US companies reported sales of tanzanite valued between $380m and $400m per year. During that same year, though, the Tanzanian government only officially reported $16m per year in exported tanzanite. Such a vast difference between these reported figures generated suspicions which have since caused the Tanzanian government to begin an effort to investigate and calculate the amount of illicit tanzanite trading occurring within its borders. Currently, the Tanzanian government estimates that approximately 90 per cent of all of its tanzanite trade is conducted illicitly. As a matter of practice, dealers simply buy bags of tanzanite directly from the miners and exchange no paperwork for the purchases. As a result of this informal practice, subsequent attempts either to mark or trace these stones or to record their sale becomes essentially impossible. Generally, highly informal systems of commodities trading, such as the Tanzanian black market, are a perfect and often used method of quietly financing international criminal and terrorist operations.

    Did al-Qaeda move assets from banks to untraceable commodities for several years preceding 11th September, 2001? Recently, some US government officials have admitted knowledge of this strategic shift in terrorist asset maintenance. Deputy Treasury Secretary Kenneth W. Dam is quoted as suggesting that al-Qaeda had and would continue using more informal methods to move assets around the world. In fact, he said, ‘terrorists may avoid storing value in currency at all, instead preferring commodities like gold or diamonds, converting them to cash only as needed.’ Al-Qaeda can hide its assets with greater impunity through the use of commodities than currency. As a result of heightened law enforcement efforts, al-Qaeda can no longer easily hide currency assets from international investigative efforts.

    In order to illustrate this advantage, consider the well-publicised example of the US embassy bombings of Kenya and Tanzania. In the 2001 trial of the embassy-bombers, several former and current bin Laden associates described the movement of tanzanite to Hong Kong for the purposes of converting these stones into cash on the open market. Wadih el Hage, a former personal secretary to bin Laden, testified that he created two apparently legitimate trading companies in order to move tanzanite to Hong Kong. Once in Hong Kong, the gems could then be easily sold on the open market. As a result of his laundering efforts in furtherance of the embassy bombings, Wadih el Hage is now serving a life prison sentence in the USA. Even though the scheme to fund the embassy bombings has since been unravelled and detailed, it came to light only after al-Qaeda succeeded *J.M.L.C. 147 in its purposes. Consequently, the bombers' successes led to the reasonable conclusion that the illicit tanzanite and commodities trade can and does successfully assist the funding of global terrorist operations.

    The irony in the al-Qaeda/tanzanite connection is that the country that al-Qaeda targets most for its terrorist operations is also the country that purchases the majority of the world's tanzanite. The USA accounts for approximately 80 per cent of the world market for tanzanite. Additionally, the blue-purple stone is second only to sapphire in popularity among all coloured stones in the USA. Since there has been marketing of the stone, it has increased in popularity.

    Commercial jewellers are obviously not intending to assist al-Qaeda by marketing tanzanite. Further, despite political will, international criminal fora either lack the political capital or the jurisdictional power to hold corporations accountable. Could corporations subject to the jurisdiction of the USA be regulated under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and both the civil and criminal forfeiture provisions of the US Code?
     
  2. Kapinga

    Kapinga JF-Expert Member

    #2
    Aug 12, 2009
    Joined: Nov 20, 2007
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    stumbled into this while researchin for mambo mengine....
     
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