November 26, 2001
Tanzanian Association Responds to WSJ Report
The Tanzanian Mineral Dealers Association issued a statement today saying a Nov. 16 Wall Street Journal story reporting links between tanzanite and al Qaeda "has no foundation in reality."
TAMIDA, which represents 90% of the tanzanite dealers in Tanzania, checked with the mines officer quoted by WSJ. In a sworn affidavit, the mines officer denies he told reporter Robert Block there were connections between the tanzanite trade and al Qaeda and other Muslim extremists. TAMIDA could not locate another source, Aman Mustapha, who WSJ reported was a teacher at a local mosque. Mustapha had been quoted as saying Muslims must trade in gemstones to generate funds to defend Islam. The mosque's cleric, Mudir Omar Suleiman, tells TAMIDA there is no teacher by that name at the mosque.
Other facts in the story were inaccurate, TAMIDA says, such as the temperature used to obtain color change in tanzanite, as well as statistics concerning the amount of tanzanite smuggled out of the country.
TAMIDA labeled as "out of context" a WSJ quote from a U.S.-funded report saying Tanzania's gem industry was subject to abuse by money launderers, arms and drug dealers. TAMIDA cited a March 2001 U.S. study which concluded there were "no associations between the tanzanite trade and money laudering, drug and arms dealings or terrorism."
- by Peggy Jo Donahue