JA Informs Members of Al-Qaida Ties to Conflict Diamonds

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(Rapaport…November 8, 2001) Jewelers of America (JA) sent a letter to its members informing them of the Washington Post article that reported that that the Al Qaida terrorist network profited from the illicit sale of diamonds mined by rebels in Sierra Leone. The letter provides important facts JA says members should convey to the media if they are contacted for comment on the situation.

The following is the full-text of the letter:


November 8, 2001

Jewelers of America has been working with the World Diamond Council and the human rights and humanitarian community for more than a year to find an international solution to the problem of conflict diamonds.

Now, an article in the Washington Post has added a new dimension to this problem. According to the Post, which cited anonymous U.S. and European intelligence officials, the Al Qaeda terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden has profited from the illicit sale of diamonds mined by rebels in Sierra Leone.

You may be contacted by the news media about this story. If you are, it is important that you understand and convey the following facts:

1. America’s jewelers are in the forefront of those who are working to ensure that all the diamonds we sell are from legitimate sources. We are doing our utmost to make that happen and significant progress has been made.

2. Jewelers of America and the Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, have joined forces in support of HR 2722. This legislation – and a companion Senate bill – has bipartisan support in Congress. The bill will bar the import of conflict diamonds into the United States, which is a major and essential step in eliminating the illicit trade in conflict diamonds. It would also encourage establishment of a global monitoring system, which is needed to achieve a comprehensive solution. The bill is pending before the House Ways & Means Committee, and we urge its immediate consideration by the committee and then approval by Congress before the end of this year. We also urge the Bush administration, which has been slow to support this legislation, to assist in achieving the measure’s prompt enactment into law.

3. Jewelers of America, through the World Diamond Council, is lending its support to an international effort – known as the Kimberley Process – to find an international solution to stamp out the conflict diamond trade. It involves about 30 countries that produce, process, and import diamonds. The Kimberley Process recently reached broad agreement on a certification system to ensure that exported diamonds carry certificates that they come from legitimate mines. Under the proposed plan, certificates to verify the origin of each package’s contents would accompany each shipment of rough stones, with additional certificates from each country traversed. While there are still details of this program to be worked out, the Kimberley Process goal is to reach agreement before the end of this year and report back to the United Nations. This plan will work in tandem with the legislation that is making its way through Congress.

4. Individual jewelers are working with their suppliers to make as certain as humanly possible that the diamonds they carry in their stores come only from legitimate sources.

Jewelers of America has sent all of its members resources on conflict diamonds – including lobbying materials for contacting members of Congress, vendor agreement forms, and educational materials for store employees. If you are missing any of these materials and would like them, please contact Jewelers of America at 800-223-0673, or visit the Conflict Diamonds section of our website, www.jewelers.org.

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