U.S. Military Official Affirms Al-Qaida/Blood Diamonds Link

150 150 Rapaport News

(Rapaport… April 4, 2004) General Charles Wald, a senior U.S. military commander, told Voice of America during a visit to the Pentagon that the al-Qaida terrorist group has been profiting from the diamond trade, particularly conflict diamonds, in West Africa and is seeking other support in the region.

The four-star Air Force general, who is the deputy commander of the U.S. European Command headquartered in Germany and responsible for military operations in Europe and most of Africa, referred to a Congressional hearing at which witness Doug Farah, a former Washington Post correspondent, testified on al-Qaida ties to the blood diamond trade.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that’s a truism,” he said. “They may be connected through Lebanese or Hezbollah or whatever the case may be, but the fact of the matter is that I think that’s a source of income for al-Qaida.”

Wald added that there is evidence of an al-Qaida presence in North Africa, although he describes that presence as small and scattered. He believes the terrorist group may be recruiting in Africa. He says it may also be looking for logistical support. Wald said terrorism is in part the reason behind greater U.S. military engagement in Africa.

He says the model the Pentagon is following is one in which the U.S. military will assist governments with specialized support, especially in areas where local forces lack skills and resources. These areas include communications, intelligence and surveillance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.