Treasury Department Disputes Diamonds and Terrorism Report

December 19, 2003

Treasury Department Disputes Diamonds and Terrorism Report

U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Tara Bradshaw told the Associated Press a recent General Accounting Office report to Congress was wrong in saying that diamonds, among other commodities, are used in earning, moving and storing terrorist assets( Diamonds Still Linked to Terrorism, Says Report). "The FBI has been to West Africa, to look at the diamond business. We have also met with people in the diamond business in Brussels and Antwerp. We haven't seen any evidence to suggest that is the case," Bradshaw said.

However, human rights group Global Witness says it learned the FBI investigation consisted of a two-person team that spent only one week in West Africa. "That is not a credible investigation for an issue that affects U.S. national security interests," says Alex Yearsley of Global Witness. Global Witness published a report in April 2003 which accused terrorist organizations al Qaeda and Hizballah of using illicit diamond networks.

"Global Witness strongly endorsees the findings of [the GAO] report and calls on the U.S. government to take concerted and immediate action to prevent diamonds from funding terrorism," the group says in its statement.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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