Representatives from the US State Department, the government of Tanzania, Tanzanian mining and dealers associations, and US trade organizations, all gathered to formulate a joint proposal to help stem the downward value of tanzanite by disclaiming any link to terrorist groups, and proposing new enforcement rules to ensure that all tanzanite be protected from any possible illegal and illegitimate trade, during a closed-door meeting at the AGTA Gem Fair at the Tucson Convention Center on Friday, Feb. 8.
U.S. State Department officer of East African Affairs, Mike O’Keefe stated without hesitation that while there is no doubt that there was an Al Qaeda operative selling tanzanite to finance the embassy bombing in 1998, there is absolutely no new connection between the tanzanite trade and smuggling in support of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
“We have seen no evidence that Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group is currently using tanzanite sales to finance its efforts to launder money, ” O’Keefe said to applause erupted as he reiterated that tanzanite has not been used. When asked about the Wall Street Journal’s comments, O’Keefe suggested that while all of WSJ research seemed correct, the State Department and the U.S. intelligence community came to a much different conclusion. “And we have considerably more investigative power than the Wall Street Journal.”
Members of the Tanzanian government, including Hon. Maokola-Majogo, the Minister for Energy and Minerals, showed a unified front with the AGTA, the Tanzanian Mineral Dealers Association (Tameda), the Arusha Regional Miners Association (AREMA), the Tanzanian chamber of mines, the Jewelers of America, The jewelers Vigilance committee, the American Gem Society, the Jewelers Association of Jaipur, and the Indian diamond and colored stone association, as well as all trade association s representing the full international scope of tanzanite miners, gem dealers, manufacturers suppliers and retail jewelry industry in the US. “We are not here to defend ourselves,” says Maokola-Majogo, “but to embrace the opportunity to work together with all the industry’s stakeholders in order to ensure that this unique product travels from mine to market in a manner that will assure customers of its integrity and symbolism as a stone of peace and tranquility.”