The Dec. 29 front-page article "Report Says Africans Harbored Al Qaeda" falsely linked Liberia to the illicit al Qaeda money trade.
Liberia is a firm supporter of the U.S.-led fight against global terrorism. It works with U.S. intelligence agents in Monrovia daily, providing data and information. President Charles Taylor recently signed into law six conventions related to terrorism. With such close collaboration, it is inconceivable that Liberia would or could harbor al Qaeda operatives.
Liberia is approaching a contentious election campaign. Some politicians fear that a strict democratic process will not produce victory for them and so they resort to rumor and innuendo in an effort to unseat the incumbent.
Much of the article focused suspicions on Ibrahim Bah, the Revolutionary United Front interlocutor who visited Monrovia, Abuja, Lome and Bamako with the consent of the Economic Community of West African States and the international community while peace negotiations were taking place to end the crisis in Sierra Leone. But the article made no mention of that reason for Mr. Bah's presence in Monrovia.
On the subject of contraband diamonds, Liberia has cooperated on the creation of a certification regime through the World Diamond Council. The diamond trade has always been a legitimate private venture in Liberia, devoid of direct government involvement except for the payment of taxes by brokers. As the U.N. Security Council requested, this sector has since been suspended to ensure transparency, to which Liberia remains committed.
AARON B. KOLLIE
Embassy of Liberia
Tragically, al Qaeda's use of the international diamond trade to finance terrorist activity is just the latest use of diamonds from Sierra Leone and Liberia. For years these gems have been mined by slave laborers, who are victims of rape, massacres and other atrocities. Behind these horrors are rebel forces that obtain funding from selling "conflict" diamonds.
On Jan. 1, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme went into effect in an effort to end the sale of conflict diamonds. It requires the 50 nations, including the United States, that adopted the scheme to create controls to block imports of conflict diamonds.
To prove its commitment to ending the suffering that conflict diamonds cause, and to prevent al Qaeda from becoming further enriched, Congress now must pass legislation that supports "clean diamonds" and goes further than Kimberley. Such legislation would require the United States to prevent the import of conflict diamonds, would apply to all diamonds (rough and polished) and would include comprehensive reporting requirements.
For reasons of humanity, and now as part of the war on terror, the 108th Congress must make such legislation a priority.
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism