Surat diamond business has a terror ring to it

Last Updated: Sat, Jun 07, 2008 04:46 hrs

Even terrorists cannot resist the lure of diamonds. No, they are not buying them to adorn their life-snuffing AK-47s, but are investing in Surat’s high-yield diamond business.

After targeting stock markets as secure sites to park their funds, terror organisations such as HuJI, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Lashkar-e-Toiba are reportedly trying to earn from the diamond business.

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Sources in the Centre’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) told DNA that high returns in the diamond market and the fickleness of the share market had induced terror groups to turn to Surat’s most glittering trade.

The diamond industry was being scrutinised by the FIU over the past few months and the sleuths were shocked to discover that terrorists were using the industry to launder their blood-soaked money.

“Terrorists groups have started withdrawing money from the share market and are investing in the prosperous diamond industry,” a source in the FIU told DNA. Officials at the state intelligence bureau refused to comment on FIU’s disclosures.

The president of the Surat Diamond Association, CT Vanani, said the market had witnessed some suspicious activities a few months back.

“A year ago, some people from Mumbai began purchasing diamonds worth crores of rupees. When the industry tried to trace the traders, they turned out to be non-existent,” said Vanani. He said proper vigilance has now curtailed terror transactions.

The FIU, which is also a central reception point for suspicious transaction reports (STP), traced all foreign transactions of Surat’s diamond industry, especially those emanating from Belgium. It found that a great deal of money was being invested by terrorist groups.

However, the FIU refused to formally comment on its investigation. The director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Ajay Sahni, said the terrorists are looking for industries that provide high returns. “Though there are no specific reports about such investment, their presence cannot be ruled out,” he said.

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As for the modus operandi employed by terrorists to pump money into the diamond business, an FIU official said such groups mainly infiltrated the industry through their supporters.

Terrorist outfits use these supporters to purchase diamonds from Belguim. The official said that at times small traders eager for quick growth also end up helping terrorists.

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