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Thursday, July 10, 2003
Why Should We Be Concerned About Liberia?

Try "al Qaeda". This piece is an excerpt from The New Republic online (subscription required).

In September 1998, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, a top Al Qaeda operative, visited Liberia and met with Taylor and senior members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the vicious Taylorcontrolled militia that invaded Sierra Leone in 1991 to take over the country's diamond mines. Abdullah trained Al Qaeda recruits in explosives in Afghanistan, participated in operations against Americans in Somalia, and helped plan the East African embassy bombings in 1998. The U.S. government currently offers a $25 million reward for information leading to his arrest. And Abdullah's meeting with Taylor was no social visit. Rather it led to a relationship in which Al Qaeda bought large quantities of diamonds from the RUF in exchange for weapons and cash. The operation, which peaked in the months before September 11, 2001, is believed to have offered Al Qaeda a way to convert its assets into a form that could be moved across borders more easily. The Taylor–Al Qaeda relationship has been carefully documented by The Washington Post's Douglas Farah, by a yearlong European intelligence investigation, and, most recently, in a 100-page report the nongovernmental organization Global Witness released in April. Liberia's links to Al Qaeda, in other words, are far more well-documented than Iraq's. And, yet, they have never been cited by anyone in the Bush administration.
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