December 17, 2001
ABC News Blasts Tanzanite
On Dec. 14, an ABC News report stated "federal authorities and jewelry industry executives" say some people in the tanzanite business may be using the gemstones to "raise and move vast sums of money for Osama bin Laden." The report used the same industry and government sources named in a Nov. 16 Wall Street Journal article on the allegations.
The only interviews seen on-air featured reporter Brian Ross questioning Cap Beesley of American Gemological Laboratories, New York City, and William Wechsler, a former National Security Council official during the Clinton administration. Both men had also been quoted in the WSJ report. ABC added no new information to the alleged connection between tanzanite and al Qaeda except to say FBI and CIA investigators tracking bin Laden's money believe his people have been buying tanzanite for several years. The source of this information was unnamed.
Ross also said Tiffany & Co. "quietly" suspended sales of tanzanite, and QVC made its suspension announcement several weeks ago. After showing the logos of Zales, J.C. Penney and Macy's, Ross stated, "Some of the countries biggest retailers, while saying they are seeking more information, continue to sell it, even as U.S. authorities investigate the link" between tanzanite and al Qaeda.
Later in the weekend, the report was picked up by CNN and repeated.
by Peggy Jo Donahue