UN Believes Al Qaeda Obtained, Sold Sierra Leone Stones

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(Rapaport…June 29, 2004) A link between diamond trafficking and the terrorist organization al Qaeda has been reported in the Wall Street Journal. The paper said on June 28 that United Nations war crimes prosecutors have evidence that Aafia Siddiqui, believed to be al Qaeda’s only female leader, went to Liberia to “evaluate” the diamond operation there.

The UN and Belgian police believe al Qaeda obtained diamonds from Sierra Leone and sold at least $19 million of them on the Antwerp market in the year before the September 11, 2001, attacks. This information contradicts a staff report June 16 by the U.S. commission investigating the attacks that said “no persuasive evidence exists” that al Qaeda had used conflict diamonds as a source of funding.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been seeking Siddiqui for some time. The photograph of the Pakistani geneticist and former Boston resident appeared in U.S. newspapers months ago because the FBI was looking for her with regard to weapons purchases in Massachusetts. A U.N. dossier states that Shiek Ahmed Sahm Swedan, an al Qaeda leader, was visiting Monrovia, Liberia, at the same time as Siddiqui.

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