WSJ story links Tanzanite to bin Laden supporters

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in its Nov. 16 edition, has reported that there is a link between the tanzanite trade and the Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network.

The WSJ story says that tanzanite gems are smuggled out of Tanzania, the only place in the world where the bluish-purple gemstone is found, through the Kenyan city of Mombasa (described in the story as a stronghold of Al Qaeda sympathizers). From Kenya, the story says, the stones go to Dubai (part of the United Arab Emirates). Dubai is described in the story as a center for money laundering and underground cash transferals and said to be favored by Al Qaeda as a haven for its business interests.

The story quotes government officials, traders, and miners in Tanzania, Kenya, and Dubai as well as U.S. government and law enforcement officials and jewelry industry representatives.

Cap R. Beasley, president of American Gemological Laboratories in New York, was quoted in the story saying that jewels going through Dubai should “throw up a flag” because it is outside regular trading channels. Zale Corp. CEO Robert DiNicola and QVC executive vice president of merchandising Darlene Daggett say in the story their companies would not sell tanzanite if it was proven that it came from illicit sources. Jewelers of America CEO Matthew Runci said in the story that the association needs more information on the link and that it has been focusing its efforts on solutions to the conflict diamonds issue.