January 2004 article Via
This reporter has obtained internal maritime industry risk analysis documents, Liberian government documents, and an Italian Carabinieri telecommunications intercept transcript that document the close links between international diamond smugglers based in New York, Italy, Israel, and Belgium, the government of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, and members of Al Qaeda.
The arrest in New Jersey last August of Yehuda Abraham, an Israeli-American and Afghanistan-born diamond dealer who attempted to facilitate the purchase of 50 Russian shoulder-launched missiles for possible use against Air Force One, first exposed the links between the largely Jewish diamond industry and weapons smugglers linked to Al Qaeda.
The maritime risk analysis report on Liberia, dated 14 May 2002, states "uncut diamonds are one of the best and effective ways of laundering and transferring money. So organized crime and its worldwide hangers on based in Italy, New York, Belgium, and Israel have full connections with the Republic of Liberia as well as other African centers, e.g., Angola, Zimbabwe, East Africa, particularly Mombasa, The Congo, South Africa, etc."
The report also states, "some evidence has emerged that where organized crime and its adherents leads --- Al Quaeda [sic] exists and operates. Verification from several sources partially indicate the purchase on a large scale of Sierra Leone diamonds through Liberia (and particular Liberian corporations) and using local addresses in Liberia. No 'returns' are made here. Some of the characters involved in this trade have been identified and notified to the press and the United Nations. Others, though not known, appear to have a 'charmed' and 'untouched' existence."
The Bush administration has consistently refused to bring to justice some diamond and weapons smugglers who lead such "charmed" existences. They include the Russian Viktor Bout, who maintains an extensive network of airline companies and other fronts and is close to a number of Russian-Israeli mafia figures.
A wiretap transcript from the Taormina, Sicily Carabinieri points to the increased role of this "new Mafia" which has moved in on weapons and diamond smuggling. The transcript involves a wiretap of a conversation of Cosa Nostra figures in Sicily who complain that the "new mafia" (nuovo mafia) had recently taken over a hotel in Taormina and was conducting operations from it and that records of the hotel's sale to the newly-arrived organized crime figures had disappeared. According to the transcript, the Russian-Israeli mafia was using the Sicilian hotel to run diamond smuggling operations in Liberia among other operations.
The risk report contends that the diamond smugglers and Al Qaeda took full advantage of Liberia's questionable governmental entities. It states that "with Taylor, corrupt lawyers, 'dubious counsels,' consular officials, the programs, and air and maritime 'officials'" all Liberian government activities were called into doubt. The document reports that in one case, a Liberian official at the United Nations named Richard Wilson "fronted a New York Mafia investment which was run by two English lawyers." The report also states that the LIberian courts are "a shambles."
The report also accused the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR) of involvement with the Liberian government's questionable activities. The document states that the "Registry is imploding even faster as the unbeatable combination of organized crime, diamonds, Al-Quaeda [sic], a corrupt and incompetent judiciary, a corrupt brutal and greedy 'government' is highlighted." The LISCR, which maintains offices in New York and Vienna, Virginia and other offices in London, Hong Kong, Piraeus, Rotterdam, Zurich, etc., is accused of having a murky ownership with shipping and corporate fees it collects largely unaccounted for. LISCR's operations in Piraeus and London are reported to be "opaque." The report suggests that LISCR's opaqueness has attracted "organized crime and Al-Quaeda [sic]."
The report also indicates that the U.S. State Department has been covering up for LISCR with "no comment" being the usual State Department response to inquiries about the operation.
One document indicates that a portion of the risk analysis was generated by the British risk consultancy Drum Cussac. The report is consistent with information received from a former head of Israel's Mossad, that West African diamond smuggling is key to the financial operations of Al Qaeda. He also revealed that Al Qaeda's funding eventually involves the six largest U.S. banks in New York City, a fact mentioned in the Liberian risk report about Liberia, organized crime, and Al Qaeda links at the Liberian mission to the United Nations. Individuals familiar with the diamond trade in West Africa have revealed that the actual reason U.S. Marines went ashore in Liberia on August 14 was to secure Liberian government documents proving the links between Charles Taylor, the Russian-Israeli mafia, and Al Qaeda. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agents reportedly took possession or destroyed a number of incriminating documents, especially those maintained at the Liberian government office at 80 Broad Street in Monrovia. The operation followed by only two days the arrest in New Jersey of Yehuda Abraham and another smuggler tied to Kenyan national Sanjivan Ruprah, a weapons and diamond smuggling agent of Charles Taylor who traveled on a Liberian diplomatic passport under the identity Samir M. Nasr, routinely dealt with Al Qaeda, and served as an agent of the LISCR.
Some of the LISCR documents obtained by this reporter have the signature of Yoram M. Cohen, an Israeli-American lawyer who serves as Chief Executive Officer of LISCR. He states in a 2 April 2002 letter to LISCR clients that the operation of the Liberian corporate and shipping registers has the "continued support" of "both the UN and the U.S. State Department."
A copy of the "Agreement between the Government of Liberia and Liberia International Ship & Corporate Registry, dated December 31, 1999" and signed by Dakpanah Dr. Charles Ghankay Taylor and Commissioner of Maritime Affairs Benoni W. Urey, states that "LISCR hereby represents that all of its existing legal and beneficial owners are United States nationals." The agreement states that LISCR is a "limited liability company organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, the United States of America, represented by Lester S. Hyman, Chairman. Hyman is a former head of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and also served as Taylor's lawyer in Boston when he was arrested for fraud and embezzlement against the former government of Samuel Doe. Taylor subsequently escaped from a Massachusetts jail and found his way back to Liberia. The Liberia-LISCR document indicates that U.S. nationals involved with LISCR may have had intimate knowledge of LISCR's more questionable and possibly illegal activities.
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