Zimbabwe: Smuggled Diamonds Funding Terror Groups

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RAPAPORT… Despite Zimbabwe’s crack-down on diamond smuggling, new reports this week suggested that diamonds are being illegally mined and smuggled out of the Marange — again. Furthermore, these reports suggested area   diamonds are funding terrorist groups. 

Zimbabwe intelligence sources, which were not named by local press, were said to suspect the final destination of these rough stones could be international terror groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

Zimbabwe’s government supports the war against international terrorism even though relations with the United States and Europe are clearly strained. 

The government has, by all accounts, stationed soldiers and police at diamond fields and many of the diamond mining areas have been fenced off. “Despite the heavy security presence, diamond leakages continue on a large scale largely because deposits continue to be discovered in areas close to Chiadzwa, and other places such as Chimanimani and Hot Springs,” according to The Herald.

But such prevalence of findings too have led to corruption with some in the security community and created haphazard security conditions. “Zimbabwean intelligence sources said there is an unprecedented influx into Mutare and Marange of nationals from Arabic countries such as Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria,” The Herald reported.

“Most of the guys look very suspicious,” one senior intelligence officer told the newspaper. “We need to move in quickly and restore order but the problem is that we have to involve the police who are very corrupt and may not be very effective.”

Additionally, this week one policeman was killed by what the newspaper identified as diamond dealers in the Rufaro Business Centre, Manicaland.  CID detective Robert Katini and fellow assistant inspector Gondo, both from the CID minerals section, were operating a sting to arrest illegal dealers. The two posed as buyers. When a private transaction appeared likely the detectives flashed their badges and proceeded to  make an arrest. The dealers resisted arrest, became violent, and attacked the detectives. Shots were fired –reportedly by the detective– which drew the attention of more dealers who came to the aid of their own.

Katini fired at one of the dealers, who went down, and then “attackers became even more violent and stoned Katini who died on the spot,” The Herald reported.

Gondo managed to escape, but sustained injuries while two informers sustained serious head injuries. The dealer Katini shot later died.

The police chief said the incident should “serve as a lesson” that the public and police must co-exist and that the public has a moral obligation to assist police in fighting crime.

“The police will continue to weed out illegal diamond dealers in that part of the province. This incident is quite unfortunate as it comes at a time when the majority of the people are making frantic efforts to support the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” said chief superintendent Oliver Mandipaka.

 

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