In 2003, motivated by the savagery of civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, 75 countries joined a U.N.-sponsored global initiative to prevent trade in “conflict diamonds,” popularly referred to as “blood diamonds.” Conflict diamonds are gems mined in areas afflicted by armed conflict, the proceeds of which go to purchase arms and other materiel to prolong and intensify the conflict, which is usually all about control of those same diamond deposits. This initiative, called the Kimberley Process, instituted a system of certification under which governments of both source countries and purchasing countries would collaborate to prevent conflict diamonds from being sold internationally. The Kimberley Process was endorsed by major diamond producers, including world market leader De Beers, to avoid being tainted by the blood diamond label and, perhaps coincidentally, to reinforce their market dominance by banning trade in stones of uncertain provenance. But it was also a good-faith effort to put an end to the spread of vicious conflicts motivated and fueled by mineral resources.
Less well-known than the conflicts in West Africa is the civil war that continues to rage in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), known at various points in its history as Zaire, the Belgian Congo, and the Congo Free State, which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the private preserve of Leopold II, King of the Belgians. The current war, which dates back to the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the overthrow of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and has its roots in earlier political and ethnic squabbles, is reckoned to be the deadliest armed conflict since the Second World War, claiming over five million lives between 1998 and 2008.
Disclosure: I spent two of the happiest years of my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire in the late 1970s, have visited the country numerous times since then, and retain a strong sentimental attachment to the place.
For well over 100 years – you can, arguably, go back at even further to the 17th century Kongo Civil war in what were then Portuguese dominions, and are now parts of both Angola and DRC – foreign powers and greedy locals have exploited the country’s ethnic divisions to grab its boundless natural resource wealth for themselves. Joseph Conrad, in Heart of Darkness, called it “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of the human conscience,” and what he wrote in 1899 about the insane quest for rubber and ivory pretty much still applies to space-age metals dug out of riverbanks by conscript labor under the watchful eyes of local warlords and their enforcers. It’s easy enough for us in the rich countries to turn a blind eye to all this. Congo is far away, and the atrocities are perpetrated by one set of Africans against another, so what’s it got to do with us? Quite a lot, actually.
Neither the starving laborers nor the thugs pointing automatic weapons at them have much use for tantalum, a rare earth metal found in great abundance in Eastern Congo, nor for tungsten, also mined in the same area, but these turn out to be essential components of cell phones and various other high-tech devices. So if you just stood in line overnight to buy a new iPad, or if you suffer from addiction to video games or your Blackberry smart phone, you are complicit, however unwittingly, in this vile commerce. In a memorable turn of phrase, former British parliamentarian Oona King said,”Kids in Congo [are] being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America [can] kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms.”
Members of the U.S. Congress, in a rare show of bipartisanship, have introduced legislation to try to curb the trade in conflict minerals from Congo. Representative James McDermott, Democrat of Washington state, in November 2009 sponsored H.R. 4128, the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, a bill that attracted 30 co-sponsors, including a sprinkling of Republicans. Meanwhile, arch-Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, together with co-sponsors Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, and Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. An impressive array of major corporations, including Dell and HP, and prominent NGOs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have expressed strong support for the bill. The big question is whether it will work.
The track record of the Kimberley Process is not reassuring. A report by Global Watch, a British NGO, and one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Kimberley Process, warned that controls are inadequate in major diamond processing centers such as Surat in India and Antwerp, thus allowing substantial leakage of blood diamonds onto the international market. Human Rights Watch in June 2009 published a report alleging massive human rights violations in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields. It accused the Zimbabwean Army of using force “to control access to the diamond fields, and to take over unlicensed diamond mining and trading,” all to the benefit of Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party. Fraudulent Kimberley Process certificates are reportedly in wide circulation throughout the world’s diamond supply chain.
Rep. McDermott’s bill seeks to avoid some of these risks by reducing the burden of compliance on governments of poor diamond producing countries, which often lack both the means and the will to stop the trade. It also takes a dimmer view of international cooperation in general, which seems to make sense, since the more parties involved the more cracks for things to fall through. Instead, it requires the U.S. State Department to pay greater attention to the minerals issue in its annual reports on human rights practices in DRC and neighboring countries. More important, it puts the burden of proof on “enterprises under U.S. jurisdiction” to exercise due diligence “to ensure that their purchases of minerals or metals are not originating from mines and trading routes that are used to finance armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” The bill would also require the U.S. tariff code to identify items potentially containing conflict minerals and would require importers to certify that their imports of those items are conflict mineral free. Since every company that uses these minerals has a substantial operation in the U.S., the bill would place a significant part of the world trade in these substances under U.S. jurisdiction.
The law should be passed, if for symbolic reasons only. It could help attract the attention of U.S. consumers, who in turn would put their own pressure on importers and manufacturers to comply. Consumer pressure on companies like Nike and Wal-Mart have done more to curb unsafe and exploitative working conditions in shoe and garment factories in developing countries than any number of government regulations and trade restrictions could have done. If consumers start demanding that Apple and RIM do more to keep conflict minerals out of their iPhones and Blackberries it could prove far more potent than whatever sanctions the law may impose.
The immediate practical effect of the legislation is more doubtful. The minerals in question are completely fungible and easy to transport and hide. Not as easy as a pocketful of diamonds, but total world production of tantalum is less than 1,000 tons a year. Even at currently depressed tantalum prices of $35 a pound, a small truck full of coltan (tantalum-bearing ore), representing a small fortune to a trader or a warlord, can easily cross an international border for a few dollars in bribes.
That is exactly what happens. According to official trade statistics, Rwanda exports more tantalum than DRC, even though its reserves and the scale of its mining operations are a fraction of those of its huge neighbor. The bulk of Rwanda’s exports are reckoned to come from Congo, but with minimal processing in Rwanda and with every additional transformation and transaction the stuff becomes harder to trace to its source. The recession put a damper on demand, but the price could spike with introduction of any new technology that uses the stuff. The introduction of the Sony Playstation 2 in 2001 caused the price to go from less than $50 to $275 a pound almost overnight. Though Sony claims to have abandoned use of tantalum from Congo, some analysts have suggested that this is almost impossible, given Congo’s probable real share of world supply. Since Sony and Nokia and Samsung and other consumer electronics companies buy their minerals from intermediaries, they can’t be certain of their real provenance, and it can be equally hard for intermediaries like Cabot Corporation, the world’s largest processor of tantalum, to know for sure.
Cabot, for its part, states “We do not and will not mine any material containing Tantalum, including coltan, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We reject any new offer of ore if there is any possibility that the source is the DRC…We employ several controls to ensure that we do not purchase ore from the DRC, including the requirement of a government issued certificate of origin to ensure the ore we purchase is not sourced from the DRC.” It also claims it does not purchase tantalum from neighboring countries, including Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Brazzaville, and Zambia.
There is no reason to doubt Cabot’s seriousness of purpose, but as international traffic in arms, people, drugs, gems, endangered species, laundered money, and stolen works of art demonstrates, a government-issued certificate often isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. That’s no reason to dismiss the proposed legislation, which should be passed. But the real solution lies elsewhere.
Alternative sources of tantalum and other high-value minerals can be found, even if Congo remains the mother lode. Australia, Venezuela, Colombia, Mozambique, Canada, and Brazil all have important tantalum deposits, though some of those countries have potential conflict issues of their own. Ceramic capacitors, though currently in short supply, have some important advantages over tantalum in appliances like laptop computers. But these are longer-term fixes. To make this year’s crop of electronic marvels the world will still depend on the Congolese coltan mines. And Congo is such an important source of other strategic minerals that wiping out the tantalum trade will not end armed conflicts and human rights abuses connected with other high-value minerals, including gold, copper, cobalt, and, yes, diamonds.
The only real answer, of course, is for Congo to have a reasonably strong, reasonably representative government that can control its borders, guarantee its people a modicum of freedom, and wipe out internal armed insurrection. That’s a tall order, and something never before seen in Congo’s history. The rest of the world could help by putting an end to its meddling, armed or otherwise, and imposing sanctions on any country that refuses to do so. This too is not easy with such riches at stake.
When I lived in Congo in the late seventies, people had grown fed up with Mobutu’s brutality and vainglory and were fond of saying that any change in the status quo would be an improvement. The subsequent thirty-plus years have proven them tragically wrong. Still, I recoil at the notion that the Mobutu regime is as good as it gets for the Congolese. The legislation now before the U.S. Congress represents just the tiniest step towards a better future for Congo, but it’s a step that must be taken. And if that means we don’t get a new cell phone this year or next it would be a small price very much worth paying.
In 2002, while the international community was congratulating itself for establishing the Kimberley Process, aimed at clamping down on the illegal trade of conflict diamond, the plundering of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s other natural resources was a still a daily reality. With one of the “richest deposits of copper, cobalt, gold, industrial diamonds and other minerals” a staggering wildlife and one of the “world’s mightiest river systems,” the DRC was blessed with unbelievable natural resources. Unfortunately this would also be part of its death sentence. The Congolese people have witnessed in despair how, years after years, their natural resources were outrageously used for the benefit of rebel groups, neighboring nations or multi-million dollar international corporations. Even though the story of the “rape of Congo” finds its roots in abuses committed under King Leopold II, carried forward under the Belgian rule and finally completed under the kleptocratic dictatorship of Mobutu, the scope of this paper is far more modest. The time frame taken into consideration for the purposes of this analysis will be limited to the period going from the beginning of the nineties until the present time. The mass-scale looting and illegal trade of stolen minerals have fueled two armed conflicts and have originated multiple human rights violations, but the main actors of the controversy still remain impune. Bearing in mind the scale and multiple implications of the issue at hand, it would certainly be unrealistic to try to adopt a holistic approach in the study of the problem. This analysis will thus mainly focus on the role played by international corporations, and in particular U.S. businesses, which not only made the most out of the political chaos in which the country has long been immersed, but were also silent accomplices in serious human rights violations committed in the exploitation of precious minerals. This paper will therefore be articulated in five main parts: a) what exactly is “coltan” and why is it such a sought-after mineral; b) who are the main actors involved in the controversy; c) analysis of the procedures used for tracing the origin of other minerals, discussion over the applicability of those mechanisms to the coltan industry and the impact of such mechanisms on the local population; d) analysis of legal alternatives available, from a national and international standpoint, in order to make corporations accountable for their complicity in human rights violation, and analysis of the impact of other types of measures such as social pressure; and e) final considerations.
Coltan: definition and main characteristics
At this stage, two basic questions need to be addressed: what exactly is “coltan”, and what makes it such a sought-after mineral? Coltan is a term used almost exclusively in Central Africa to refer to “columbo-tantalite.” It is a combination of two rare ores, columbium (also known as niobium) and tantalum.
Both minerals are generally found together, even though tantalum is considered to be less abundant than niobium but offers more attractive features to the production of high-tech industry electronic devices. Even though in terms of production, the RDC only accounts for a marginal percentage of the world production, being Australia the largest producer of tantalum, it seems very important to highlight that an estimated 80% of the world’s known reserves of tantalum are found in Africa. Moreover, 80% of such reserves are located in the eastern part of the RDC. Tantalum’s unique properties which include high reliability, low failure rates and capacity to withstand great changes of temperatures, makes it a crucial element in the production of tantalum capacitors which provide electrical storage. The industrial application of this ore ranges from pacemakers, GPS or missiles guidance systems to cellular phones, laptops or video cameras, thus affecting a broad variety of fields. The importance of this mineral is such that tantalite was classified as “strategic mineral” by the Pentagon.
II. The actors of the controversy
The key role of neighboring countries and rebels groups
In 2000, a U.N. Panel of experts under the mandate of the former Secretary General Koffi Annan thoroughly analyzed the illegal exploitation of DR Congo’s mineral resources and its links with the two armed conflicts which caused over four million casualties and two million displaced. The economical and political unrest which have being affecting the eastern part of the RDC finds its origins in the 1994-1995 Rwandan refugee crisis. Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide and fearing reprisals from Tutsi rebel forces, a substantial number of Hutus (including members of the Interahamwe) crossed the border and sought refuge in the RDC. This situation seriously disrupted the already fragile political and social balance of the region and was repeatedly used by Rwandan forces to justify the presence of its military forces on Congolese territory. In 1996, the situation worsened and a group of rebels led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL), launched an offensive to overthrow the decadent dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko. This movement received the support of Angolan, Rwandan and Ugandan forces. Several commentators have further denounced a number of foreign companies that started negotiating new mining deals with the rebels only a few weeks into the conflict. This corporate participation, in the 1996 armed conflict, allowed Rwandan and Ugandan forces to gain a better understanding of the location and economical potential of the mineral resources found in eastern DRC, as the 2001 U.N. Panel of Experts’ report emphasized.
Despite the success of their joint offensive, aimed at conquering the country, the relationship between Kabila and its allies rapidly deteriorated and prompted the eruption of a second armed conflict in August 1998. This time, the conflict pitched Rwandan and Ugandan forces on one side against the Congolese forces, backed by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, on the other. In its analysis of the motivations behind Uganda and Rwanda’s invasion of the DRC, the 2001 U.N. report clearly indicated that:
**[I]f security and political reasons were the professed roots of the political leaders’ motivation to move into the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, some top army officials clearly had a hidden agenda: economic and financial objectives. **
By comparing Uganda and Rwanda’s budget allocation for their respective armed forces and these countries’ actual expenditures, the 2001 U.N. Panel of Experts established a clear link between the exploitation of the Congolese mineral resources and the continuation of the conflict. In the case at hand, the coltan industry proves to be an excellent example of such interdependence. Due to a sudden increase in demand, and a correlative supply shortage, the price of coltan spiked in late 1999 and early 2000. This caused a “coltan rush” that, in turn, led to the violent expulsion of many farmers and their families, from their land, at the hands of rebel groups and ruthless businessmen. These forced displacements particularly affected those properties where coltan could be found in abundance and in certain cases, slave labor was used in the exploitation of these coltan-rich areas.
Illegal exploitation of DRC mineral resources
One of the more disputed and controversial concepts among the parties were arguably the criteria used by the U.N. Panel of Experts in order to determine the illegality of the exploitation of the aforesaid mineral resources. Uganda’s and Rwanda’s main argument is based on their contention that, during the hostilities, the legitimate Congolese government did not have any sovereignty over the zones under their influence. Thus, their understanding is that the contracts signed between the rebel forces and international corporations are perfectly valid and enforceable. Moreover, they invoke the 1999 Lusaka ceasefire agreement as fundamental legal support for their position. This point of view was echoed by the report on the situation affecting the Great Lakes region, published by an “ad hoc” Belgian parliamentary commission of inquiry, which investigated the contribution of Belgian companies in fuelling the armed conflict that ravaged the DCR between 1998 and 2003.
In contrast to these arguments, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seems to have adopted a different view in its final judgment of the Democratic Republic of Congo v. Uganda case. The ICJ rationale is based on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) provisions regulating the rights and obligations of parties involved in a situation of occupation. Pursuant to article 47 of the 1907 Hague Regulations and article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, pillage carried out by occupying forces is expressly prohibited. Moreover, the Hague regulations clearly set forth that an occupying State is merely an “administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State and situated in the occupied country.” Further emphasis is placed on the fact that the occupying Power has the duty to “safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.” As Brice M. Clagett pointed out in his comments related to the exploitation of oil resources by Israel in the Gulf of Suez, the rules of belligerent occupation apply to any occupation and an occupant cannot ignore the ius in bello regulation by simply questioning the sovereignty of the other party over that of the occupied territory. Clagett’s comments shed even more light on the duties of the occupying powers, noting that “[a]n occupant is not an owner, but a tenant; there is no reason why it should have the right to deplete the natural wealth of territory that does not belong to it.”
In the case at hand, there is abundant evidence of abusive exploitation of the Congolese natural resources which did not benefit the population living in the occupied territories. In addition, the looting and plundering of Congolese assets denounced by several non-governmental organization (NGO) reports reinforce our view that neither Uganda nor Rwanda complied with the duties owed by an occupying State. There is little doubt that their actions contravened the IHL provisions on occupation and were thus illegal.
Tantalum’s complex supply chain
From the mines where precious raw tantalite is found, all the way to our cell phones or laptops, this mineral goes through a variety of hands and processes. This is certainly one of the more complex aspects in the determination of the role each actor plays, whether directly or indirectly, in human rights violations occurring in the coltan industry. How can a corporation be made accountable for extractions taking place thousands of miles away and not directly committed by any of its employees? Is “aiding and abetting” sufficient to hold such corporations responsible? If so, what are the mechanisms at the victims’ disposal to bring claims against such powerful multi-nationals?
Before entering into the analysis of the legal alternatives available, the focus should begin by analyzing this tortuous supply chain. In his article “Congo, Coltan, Conflict,” Benjamin Todd identified three main groups involved in the extraction phase: a) “individual soldiers [working] for their own benefit”; b) local communities’ members under the command of Rwandan and Ugandan forces; c) “foreign national for the army or commanders’ benefit.” It has been reported that among the individuals working in the coltan mines are children, used as forced labor, and prisoners under the surveillance of Rwandan forces.
Once the mineral is extracted, the collection of the same is carried out by local traders, a majority of which is suspected to be controlled by rebels or foreign armies. The U.N. highlighted in its 2001 report that the U.S. based Eagle Wings Resources International (EWRI) is among the foreign companies operating in the Great Lakes region as a local comptoir. It is a subsidiary of Trinitech International Inc., also based in the U.S. and its involvement in the Congolese human rights tragedy will be discussed in further detail below.
After passing through the hands of local traders, the coltan is subsequently sold to larger regional traders, which are often located in Rwanda and Uganda. “This is the most difficult part of the chain to trace, [as] five or six intermediaries can be involved before it reaches the larger regional traders. . . . At this point, the black-market coltan enters the global market.” The final destination of these exportations include Asia, Europe and the United States. The two main companies involved in the extraction of tantalum from the raw ore are the German company H.C Stark (subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant Bayer) and the U.S. based Cabot Corporation, reportedly the second-largest mineral processing company. These processing companies not only obtain the raw coltan form international trading companies, but also directly from large mines or local traders. Once processed, the refined tantalum powder is sold to capacitor manufacturers. Among them is Kemet, a U.S. company based in Greenville, South Carolina, which is one of Nokia’s main suppliers. At the final end of the chain are internationally renowned cell phone or laptop companies, such as Motorola, Nokia, Compaq, Dell or Hewlett-Packard.
III. The Kimberley Process: an example to follow for the coltan industry?
“The Kimberly Process [Certification Scheme (Kimberly Process or KP)] is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative” founded to prevent the trade of conflict-fueling diamonds. The KP focuses on “conflict diamonds,” defined as “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments. . .” These so called “conflict diamonds” may be differentiated from those gems “that are simply stolen or smuggled, diamonds not declared in order to evade tax[ation or] diamonds that are used for money laundering . . . purposes.” The KP established strict requirements for its members in order “to certify that shipments of rough diamonds” do not originate from conflict areas. The countries participating in this initiative have the duty to adopt legislation in order to enforce the KP and set up import/export control mechanisms. In addition, the KP provides that participants may only trade diamonds with other participants in the scheme.
Although the KP scheme seems to have helped reduce the trade of conflict diamonds, in recent years the KP has had to face strong criticism. Most of the skeptical comments were focused on the fact that the KP is essentially a voluntary scheme which lacks the enforcement and independent monitoring mechanisms required to ensure the compliance with the conditions by which the participants agreed to abide. This lack of effectiveness is confirmed by reports suggesting that several countries – including Russia, China and the U.S. – have shown a certain reluctance in publishing diamond trade statistics and even declined to set dates for reviewers to visit their respective countries. It is worth noting that a visit to a country to monitor its compliance with the KP standards can only be carried out with the consent of that country.
For the purpose of this paper, it seems important to consider whether a similar mechanism could be set up in order to regulate the trade of coltan, and whether such a measure would effectively contribute to improving the life of the Congolese population in conflict areas. With regard to the first question, the main obstacle to the implementation of a certification stemming “blood coltan” is certainly the complexity of its supply chain. The raw coltan passes through numerous hands before ending up in high-tech devices and this makes it particularly difficult to establish an effective mechanism of control to its origin. Leaving aside the practical issues related to the implementation of a similar measure in the coltan industry, one could reflect on the effects that a “blood coltan” certificate could have on the local community. It is indispensable to bear in mind that while the average Congolese worker earns around ten dollars a month, a good coltan miner can make up to fifty dollars a week. Based on this, we could reasonably ask ourselves whether a hypothetical embargo on “conflict coltan” will not be more detrimental to the interests of the local communities than to the interests of the criminals involved in human rights violations. The reality on the ground seems to confirm our fears. This is particularly true considering the difficulty in separating legally and illegally mined coltan. In most of the case, such circumstances are likely to cause serious prejudice to the poor local communities rather than hampering the rebels and international corporations’ ability to continue their illegal activities.
IV. Legal alternatives available
The OECD Guidelines
These guidelines constitute the first instrument providing a government-supported mechanism which aims to monitor and influence the behavior of multi-national corporations operating in or from OECD countries. Through a revision process carried out in 2000, the Guidelines included a complaint mechanism allowing affected communities and NGOs to denounce corporate abuses. It established the obligation to set up National Contact Points (“NCP”), which were assigned the duty of dealing with allegations of corporate misconduct, with one NCP in each state. Moreover, the NCPs must provide the OECD Committee on International Investment and Multinationals Enterprises (a body focused on international investment, multinational enterprises and the OECD Guidelines) with an annual report regarding its activities. Despite being widely recognized as a positive initiative, the Guidelines had to face a number of skeptical reactions. Various reports have criticized the voluntary nature of this instrument, claiming it leads to a lack of effective results in the day-to-day improvement of corporate behavior. The situation affecting the DRC is a paradigmatic example of the flaws in the Guidelines. A three-year investigation carried out by a U.N. Panel of Experts found that 85 companies were guilty of non-compliance with the OECD Guidelines. Despite these findings, which were supported by clear and documented evidence, most NCPs refused to investigate the validity of the claims. In 2004, a claim was brought before the U.S. NCP in relation with three corporations’ involvement in behaviors which contributed to fuel the armed conflict in the DRC. These companies were Cabot Corporation, Trinitech Holdings/Eagle Wings Resources International, and OMG Group Inc. Even though the U.S. NCP did not squarely dismiss the complaint, it gave no clear indications of its intention to admit it. In addition, OECD Watch has reported a worrisome statement made by the U.S. NCP which casts serious doubts over the future of an institution of similar characteristics in the U.S.:
**[T]he real focus of the Guidelines is not to focus on past behaviors, but to try and improve future behavior. We do not sit in judgment and conclude whether companies met their obligations under the Guidelines. Making judgments is about past behavior and saying you did something wrong. **
Some of the above-mentioned issues are discussed in a recent report of John Ruggie, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. Although a extensive analysis of the content of the same is outside of the scope of this paper, it is worth mentioning that it focused on three main principles: a) the State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including businesses; b) the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and c) the need for more effective access to remedies.
Congolese Mining code
The main objective of the Mining code adopted in 2002 by the Congolese government was to create a stable and transparent environment that would attract new potential investors. According to the provisions of the code, these measures were aimed at facilitating foreign investments which would be counter-balanced by other mechanisms, in order to ensure uniformed tax structures where no companies could arbitrarily be provided any fiscal benefit. The main idea was to create a situation where the Congolese government, and ultimately its population, would directly benefit from the exploitation of the country’s natural resources. Nevertheless, this initiative, backed by the World Bank, was subject to strong criticism for failing to meet its proposed goals. Yet, the renewed interest of foreign investors has pushed many individuals involved in agricultural activities to turn to the more lucrative mining business. The immediate effect of this situation is an acute alimentary crisis and an increased dependence on imported food, the price of which is constantly on the rise. Another recurring reproach is that, according to the Mining Code, the participation of the Congolese State in the international corporations’ profits is extremely limited. Approximately only five percent of the revenue goes to the State, whereas international corporations receive seventy percent of the profits.
The Lutundula Commission
Following the adoption of the Mining Code, and the publication of the various U.N. Panel of Expert reports denouncing the plundering of the Congolese mineral resources, the Congolese National Assembly created a special commission led by parliamentarian Christophe Lutundula. This ad hoc body investigated the mining and other business contracts entered into by rebel groups and governmental authorities between 1996 and 2003. Following a case-by-case analysis, the Commission concluded that several of the contracts did not comply with the applicable legal regulations or were contrary to the developmental interests of the country. The report recommended that sixteen contracts be terminated immediately or subjected to fair renegotiation. Furthermore, it advised that twenty-eight Congolese and international companies (predominantly European corporations) be investigated for alleged infringements of Congolese law. The report also recommended that an “immediate moratorium [be placed] on the signing of new contracts until after the [2006 presidential] elections” took place. The publication of the report suffered important delays, probably due to pressure exercised by politicians directly involved in the violations denounced in the above-mentioned document. Furthermore, the findings of the Lutundula Commission were largely ignored and no further action took place until April 2007, when the illegal mining activities were once again at the center of a nationwide political debate.
Ministerial Commission on the Review of Mining Contracts
Following a long period of speculation, on March 25, 2008, the report of the Ministerial Commission on the review of the mining contracts in the DRC was finally published. This commission had been instructed to examine over sixty contracts and, if required, issue recommendations as to how these contracts should be revised in order to correct any imbalances. Despite the fact that the commission was created in April 2007 and had started its activities a couple of months later, the results of the investigations were allegedly withheld for several months. Conscious of the important economical interests at stake, a group of NGOs urged the commission to end the speculation and suspicion which was tarnishing the mining sector, by making public the outcome of its investigation without any further delays.
The report of the Commission classified the contracts into three groups: a) category A, which included the contracts that did not require any renegotiation; b) category B, which included contracts recommended for renegotiation; c) category C, which included contracts to be revoked. There is no doubt that the success of this renegotiation process will depend on one central issue: transparency. As Global Witness rightly pointed out in its press release following the publication of the report, “the government should publicly outline the process it intends to follow, including the criteria used in the renegotiations, and publish the revised contracts.” The press release also referred to the creation of a task force that should assume the next steps of the review process. It is imperative for the Congolese authorities to ensure that the composition of this body lives up to the expectations of the international corporations and local communities directly affected by the outcome of this process. Global Witness insisted that the presence of international legal experts and local professionals within the task force should not be limited to a mere promise and must be effectively guaranteed by the government. Indeed, some NGOs fear that this review process is in reality “a ruse” to transfer the money generated by the exploitation of the country mineral resources “from the pockets of international [corporations] to the pockets of well-connected businessmen in Kabila’s [entourage].”
The revision of the contracts signed in violation of Congolese law or detrimental to the interests of the country could constitute an important step towards the strengthening of the central government authority and the stabilization of a country so far unable to exploit its mineral wealth to the benefit of its own citizens. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to observe the reaction of the international corporations which may see their contracts revoked or the companies which will have to renegotiate the terms of their contracts, presumably to their disadvantage. It is well know that a permissive or chaotic legal framework can attract unscrupulous international corporations. Will international corporations contribute to the development of the country or will they turn their backs to the RDC seeking more “favorable” jurisdictions? The events of the upcoming months will probably help clarify this issue.
Litigation under the Alien Tort Statute
The Alien Tort Statute (hereinafter “ATS”), also known as the Alien Tort Claim Act (hereinafter “ATCA”), was enacted as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789. The statute set forth that the “district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” However, it remained dormant for almost 200 years until the decision of the Second District Court in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala at the beginning of the eighties, which arguably constituted a turning point in the ATCA litigation. In Filartiga, “the family of a Paraguayan citizen tortured to death brought a claim under the ATCA” against another citizen of Paraguay who was living in the U.S. at the time the lawsuit was submitted. The Court found that the actions of the torturer were carried out under the color of law, as he acted as an agent of the Paraguayan government, and found that he was “liable under the ATCA.”
Despite the importance of this decision, it was not until Doe v. Unocal that the possibility for aliens to sue individuals and corporations in the United States courts for infringements of customary international law committed abroad appeared to be a viable route. The parties finally reached an out-of-court settlement and it seems reasonable to believe that the decision of the Court to rehear the case played a key role in inducing the corporation to reach an agreement with the plaintiffs. Unfortunately, this prevents us from knowing how the Court would have assessed the vicarious liability of Unocal in human rights violations carried out by the Burmese government and military during the construction of a pipeline in Burma.
In 2004, the Supreme Court ruling in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain provided further guidance as to how the ATCA may be used to obtain a remedy in U.S. courts for international law violations committed abroad without any type of link with the U.S. The Court confirmed that the ATCA may be an adequate avenue to vindicate these claims. It explained that the violations alleged by the plaintiffs are not limited to the statute’s three original offenses, which were violations of safe conducts, infringements of ambassadors’ rights and piracy. However, the Supreme Court urged lower federal courts to adopt a cautious and restrictive approach as to the scope of application of the ATS, thus acting as “vigilant doorkeepers.” It also made clear that federal courts may have limited discretion to recognize, as a matter of federal common law, ATCA suits based on “the present-day law of nations.” Thus, Sosa recognized that the possibility of recourse to the ATS is not limited to the original violations set forth in § 1350, but it established strict requirements to be followed in the construction of the mentioned statute.
For the purpose of this paper, we have chosen to focus on the case of the U.S. corporation Eagle Wings Resources International (EWRI) above-mentioned. Two main issues still need to be addressed: a) has there been any violation committed by the Rwandan or Ugandan forces which would constitute, according to Sosa, a breach of a “norm of international character accepted by the civilized world and defined with a specificity comparable to the features of the 18th-century paradigms?”; b) would it be possible to establish a causal nexus between the human rights violations committed in eastern DRC and EWRI’s activities under the “aiding and abetting” doctrine, and thus determine its liability under the ATS?
Several cases currently pending before federal Courts could certainly bring some interesting elements to our discussion, but for now we will focus on the existing caselaw to build our reasoning.
With regard to the first question, several NGO reports have suggested that during the 1996 and 1998 armed conflicts, the Congolese civilian population have suffered serious human rights violations at the hand of Rwandan and Ugandan forces. In the area where the EWRI operated, grave violations such as mass scale rape, murder, forced labor and pillage were reported. The principle of distinction and prohibition on attacking civilians is widely accepted as a fundamental rule of customary international law and is crystallized in several international treaties and U.N. declarations. Furthermore, it has also been recognized as a rule customary international law by the U.S. government. Based on these arguments, a Court may consider the violations described to meet the high threshold established in Sosa and thus, consider it a norm sufficiently “universal, obligatory and specific” to sustain a valid claim under the ATCA.
The second issue is far from being less controversial. The individual criminal responsibility of individuals convicted of “aiding and abetting” violations of international law is considered a key principle of the post-World War II war crimes trials. It was also reflected in major international human rights agreements, including the Statutes of the International Criminal Court, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). In fact, several federal courts have found that aiding and abetting violations of international law rules is “sufficiently well-established and universally recognized to be considered customary international law for the purposes of the ATCA.”
In Unocal III, the Ninth Circuit court applied the two-pronged test used by the ICTY and the ICTR in order to determine the liability of the defendant under the aiding and abetting theory. The two basic requirements are: a) actus reus, which “requires practical assistance, encouragement, or moral support which has a substantial effect on the perpetration of the crime;” and b) mens rea, which requires that the individual aiding and abetting must have reasonable knowledge that his or her “actions will assist the perpetrator in the commission of the crime.” In its 2002 report, a U.N. Panel of experts included EWRI in the category of “Rwanda-controlled comptoir” and it determined that the company was benefiting from a series of privileges due to its “close ties to the Rwandan regime.” The company not only received favorable fiscal treatment, being exempted from fulfilling its obligations to the public treasury, but it also had “privileged access to coltan sites” and benefited from forced labor. The report also insinuated that the exportation of the coltan sold by EWRI was facilitated by the assistance of Rwandan forces. The access to cheap raw materials implied grave human rights violations and was the key to the economical success of the company. Furthermore, Amnesty International reported that the Rwandan forces gained control over coltan-rich areas through forcibly displacing hundreds of locals by means of physical violence, systematic looting of the Congolese population property or even mass-scale murders. Such a climate of terror arguably benefited the company’s economical interests and in turn the company’s success provided the Rwandan forces with indispensable funds to support their war effort. It would also be difficult to deny that EWRI had knowledge that its business activities would assist the Rwandan military in the above-mentioned serious violations.
Plaintiffs wishing to sue EWRI under the ATCA would certainly have to support the U.N. Panel report findings with further reliable evidence. Nevertheless, one could argue that there are sufficient elements indicating that a hypothetical court ruling may go either way.
Other non-legal alternative: Social pressure
NGOs and other civil society organizations have greatly contributed to raise public awareness of the close relationship between the armed conflicts raging in the DRC and the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources. While a number of initiatives focused exclusively on human rights violations, others linked the mining activities in eastern DRC with the serious environmental crisis currently affecting the area. One of the most relevant initiatives in connection with the coltan industry, is the campaign launched in 2001 by 18 Belgian NGOs under the slogan “No blood on my mobile! Stop the plundering of the Congo!” The objective of this movement was to demand the adoption of measures to ensure that the trade of DRC minerals benefited the Congolese people instead of fuelling armed conflicts.
A number of companies, concerned about the negative impact that campaigns such as the above-mentioned initiative may have on their reputation, have taken immediate actions to distance themselves from accusations of being indirectly linked to DRC’s armed conflicts. Even though pressure exercised on international corporations through “shaming and blaming” seems to have given promising short-term results, its effectiveness on the long run is open to debate. Human rights violations seem to be considered a “priority” only while the violations are brought to the public’s attention through extensive media coverage. This suggests that social pressure can only reach its initial goals if supported by effective means to hold corporations accountable for their misconduct or their indirect participation in third parties exactions.
As exposed above, a variety of instruments have attempted to address the issue of human rights violations in the DRC coltan industry. Nevertheless, the main feature characterizing these initiatives is their alarming lack of effectiveness. Although the ICJ decision in the case Democratic Republic of Congo v. Uganda seems to indicate an encouraging tendency towards holding neighboring States accountable for their crimes, the same cannot be said with regard to international corporations’ liability. There is an urgent need to establish strong enforcement mechanisms, which may not simply be limited to “short-term” moral sanctions. In this respect, the evolution of the “aiding and abetting” doctrine will play a decisive role in determining whether the ATS is indeed a suitable way for victims to seek reparations for the violations they suffered. Should the U.S. federal courts decide to follow a broad interpretation of the concept of “aiding and abetting”, then there is little doubt that the ATS probably constitutes the best alternative currently available to the individuals affected by the violations described in this paper.
OBAMA, THE CONGO, MINERAL WEALTH, WAR
Photo by foto_morgana : http://www.flickr.com/photos/devriese/sets/72157594519310903/ © All rights reserved
Keith Harmon Snow, 9 February 2008, produced an article (Dissident Voice : Gertler’s Bling Bang Torah Gang) which makes the following points:
Maurice Templesman is one of the top funders of Barrack Obama.
Families like Templesman, Oppenheimer, Gertler and Steinmetz are associated with mining companies in the Congo.
In 2007 there was fighting in the Congo between Jean-Pierre Bemba and Joseph Kabila. Each wanted to be the one who could make money from deals with the mining companies.
Most ordinary Congolese earn less than a dollar a day and any attempts at strikes are likely to be put down with violence.
According to an article at CorpWatch, 25 April 2001, CorpWatch : Africa: U.S. Covert Action Exposed :
Declassified memos and cables between former U.S. presidents and State Department officials over the last four decades named Mr. Tempelsman with direct input in the destabilization of Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Rwanda and Ghana.
He earned his stripes with western powers in the overthrow of Ghana’s first elected president, Kwame Nkrumah, and the CIA-backed assassination of Congo’s first-elected president, Patrice Lumumba, documents reveal.
As late as 1997, Mr. Tempelsman was named in the ongoing cover-up of U.S.-CIA covert support of the former president of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC]), Mobuto Sese Seko, who died in exile in 1997 after the overthrow of his regime by recently assassinated Congolese President Laurent Kabila.
Mr. Tempelsman is named as the agent in charge of selling off the gross excess of the strategic diamond stockpile in the United States that was used to fund the deceased dictator’s exploits.
Congo – with Rwanda to the right (RW)
Who is going to get the Congo’s mineral wealth, which includes everything from oil to gold?
1. “Eastern Congo’s brutal conflict is a result of… a scramble for the region’s mineral wealth…
“Cobalt, copper, diamonds, gold, silver, tin and coltan, the essential ingredient of cell phones, make Congo one of Africa’s most mineral-rich countries.”
2. “French oil company Total said (28 October 2008) that it was considering exploiting tar sands in the… Congo, where it is the chief oil and gas producer…
“The Italian oil company ENI in May signed a deal with Congo to exploit the tar sands at Tchikatanga and Tchikatanga-Makola in the south, estimated to hold reserves of between 500 million and 2.5 billion barrels. ” (French oil giant mulls exploiting Congo tar sands)
3. “Congolese rebels continued their march toward the regional capital of Goma on Tuesday (28 October 2008), driving panicky Army soldiers and tens of thousands of displaced civilians out onto the muddy roads ahead of them.” (Congo rebels push toward key city)
4. “The roots of Congo’s instability trace back to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which hundreds of thousands of minority Tutsis were slaughtered. Tutsi rebels from Rwanda then overthrew the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government in an ensuing civil war, forcing millions of Hutus to flee to Congo…
“Rwanda invaded Congo twice in an effort to rout the Rwandan Hutu extremists, first in a 1996-1997 war, and again in a 1998-2002 war. Many accused Rwanda of getting sidetracked, however, in pursuit of diamonds, gold and other minerals.
“Since 1994, Congo’s civil war and tribal conflicts have left some 4 million people dead through fighting, famine or disease.” (Congo’s violence tied to 1994 Rwandan genocide)
5. “The former French president François Mitterrand supported the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide despite clear warnings that mass killings of the Tutsi population were being orchestrated, according to declassified French documents.
“The publication of the documents in today’s Le Monde for the first time confirms long-held suspicions against France. The previously secret diplomatic telegrams and government memos also suggest the late French president was obsessed with the danger of “Anglo-Saxon” influence gripping Rwanda.” (The Independent)
6. Around Lubumbashi there is a lot of copper, coltan and zinc.
It is being processed by a joint venture between the state mining company, the George Forrest Group (a Belgian-Congolese conglomerate) and the American OM Group.
“In 2002, a UN panel recommended that 29 companies – including the George Forrest Group – face sanctions for their operations in DR Congo.
“The panel’s report accused the George Forrest Group of running its mineral operations in a way that took as much profit as possible out of the country, while bringing minimal benefit to DR Congo.”
Israel and the Ongoing Holocaust in Congo
Maurice Templesman is one of the top funders of Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Templesman was the unofficial ambassador to the Congo (Zaire) for years, but a new Israeli-American tycoon has replaced him. In the world of bling bling and bling bang, some things change, some stay the same. The CIA, the MOSSAD, the big mining companies, the offshore accounts and weapons deals—all hidden by the Western media. The holocaust in Central Africa has claimed some six to ten million people in Congo since 1996, with 1500 people dying daily. But while the Africans are the victims of perpetual Holocaust, the persecutors hide behind history, complaining that they are the persecuted, or pretending they are the saviors. Who is responsible?
For Israeli-American Dan Gertler, business in blood drenched Congo is not merely business, it is a quest for the Holy Grail. Young Dan Gertler goes nowhere—does nothing—without the spiritual guidance of Brooklyn-born Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Leibovitch, a personal friend of Condoleeza Rice. Gertler and Leibovitch are two of the principals behind a diamond mining company, Emaxon Finance Corporation, involved in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gertler and gang won the majority rights to the diamonds from the state mining company, Société Minière de Bakwange, MIBA, found near the government-controlled town of Mbuji-Mayi, the rough diamond capital of the world.
Emaxon Finance Corp. has apparently out-maneuvered diamond competitors, especially the big rivals Energem and De Beers. Energem is one of the many shady mining companies connected to Anthony Teixeira, a Portuguese born businessman now residing in South Africa whose daughter married Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba. The warlord’s deadly battle in Congo in March 2007 was a bid between rival agents—Jean-Pierre Bemba and Joseph Kabila—to be the black gatekeeper for the mining cartels run by dynastic families like Templesman, Oppenheimer, Mendell, Forrest, Blattner, Hertzov, Gertler and Steinmetz, and for companies like NIKANOR, whose stock prices rose early in July 2006 in expectation of a July 30th “win” for Joseph Kabila. Africa Confidential called President Kabila’s 2003 visit to the Bush White House a “coup” for the Israeli diamond magnates Dan Gertler and Beny Steinmetz.
Canadian-based Energem, formerly DiamondWorks, is owned by British mercenary Tony Buckingham and its director/shareholders include Mario and Tony Teixeira, J.P. Morgan, and Gertler’s partner Israeli-American Beny Steinmetz (50%). Through subsidiary Branch Energy, the Energem-DiamondWorks gang has perpetuated war in 11 African countries. In December 2007, Energem re-launched itself on the London Stock Market with the newly laundered image of a renewable energy company. Regarding diamonds, it said only it “had decided to give up exploration rights in the Central African Republic.” The Energem spokesman explained that Tony Teixeira “had a clean bill of health” etc., etc. Of course, Energem “quit” the C.A.R. because Jean-Pierre Bemba marched his troops into C.A.R., where they raped and pillaged widely. Energem is still operating in Congo, but Dan Gertler is the new, unofficial ambassador to the Congo for the George W. Bush gang.
Gertler and partners like Beny and Danny Steinmetz, Nir Livnat, Chaim Leibovitz and Yaakov Neeman run a hornet’s nest of companies involved in African hotspots, including: Dan Gertler International (DGI), Steinmetz Global Resources, International Diamond Industries, NIKANOR and Global Enterprises Corporate.
“Dan Gertler is ‘the new kid on the block,’” writes Yossi Melman in Israel’s Haaretz news. “Bold, sophisticated, brutal, he is an adventurer with a short fuse.” Haaretz confirmed that Dan Gertler owns a complex network of interconnected companies, often registered in offshore tax havens and involved in India, Russia, Belgium and the United States, and that Dan Gertler is looking to God for guidance. 
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
“In the diamond industry,” Melman wrote, “Gertler is considered something of an odd bird. He maintains few ties with the other merchants and is not very sociable… Alongside his business affairs, most of his energy is channeled into matters of faith. He is a donor to religious institutions and from time to time makes a pilgrimage to the rabbi he most admires, Rabbi David Abuhatzeira, from Nahariya, in order to consult with him and receive his blessing. Gertler is surrounded mostly by religious people and laces his speech liberally with praise to God.” 
In 2003, Condoleeza Rice, then Assistant to President Bush for National Security Affairs, introduced Dan Gertler and Chaim Leibovitch to U.S. official Jendayi Frazer, a Harvard Kennedy School affiliate and former National Security Council agent focused on Africa. On December 6, 2006, Frazer, then Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, was one of seven special Bush delegates sent to the inauguration of Congo’s newly installed President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa.
When Dan Gertler and Chaim Leibovitch and their friends visit the luxury Gertler villa in Lumumbashi, the capital of Katanga, Congo’s large southern province, their kosher meals arrive by private plane from Kinshasa. The special executive jet that flies their kosher meals a few hundred miles over the roadless Congo costs some $US 23,000 per trip.
The average income for Congolese citizens each year—if they survive it—is about $95. Shootings at mining facilities and diamond mines are common, land is stolen from Congolese people, strikes are crushed by security forces that companies are partnered with, and black overseers of state terror routinely arrest and torture any vocal opposition—and sometimes disappear them—in support of white bosses. The Société Minière de Bakwange—MIBA—and the diamond fields of Mbuji-Mayi in Congo have a long history of bloodshed backed by Western powers, including Israel, from the beginning. Amnesty International points out that not a single state agent has ever been prosecuted for the extrajudicial executions of suspected “illegal” miners in Mbuji-Mayi.
After a century of exploitation and slavery, we find MIBA consistently withholding payment of salaries to starving Congolese laborers and middle managers for months at a time. April and May 2007 saw strikes and protests leading to the Kabila government’s arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of trade union organizers like Leon Ngoy Bululu; police have also shot protestors. So-called ‘illegal’ diamond workers—disenfranchised local Congolese people forced into “criminal” activities to survive—were summarily executed on MIBA concessions in Mbuji-Mayi. MIBA security guards have also been sniping unemployed diamond miners.
Meanwhile, Dan Gertler’s kosher meals depart Kinshasa, the capital of the big Congo, through the arrangements of Rabbi Chlomo Bentolila, high priest of the Chabad of Central Africa. Rabbi Chlomo Bentolila has been a Kinshasa Rabbi since 1991, and he was a spiritual force who survived the terrorism of the old dinosaur, Mobutu Sese Seko, the way most elites did: by working with him. Rabbi Bentolila is a member of the Chabad Lubavitch Global Emissary Network, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, and his wife Miriam is the sister of Rabbi Mena’hem Hadad, a high priest in Brussels.
“Kosher does not mean that a Rabbi blesses the food,” Rabbi Betolila corrected me, “but rather that the food was supervised by a Rabbinical Thora [sic] authority who sees that the ingredients were in accordance with the laws of Kashrut expressed in the Bible (Leviticus and Deuteronomy).” 
Dan Gertler often flies people into Congo, on his private jet, for sacred Jewish rituals. For the Bar Mitsvah of Rabbi Chlomo Bentolila’s son Binyamin Avrahim in June 2005, guests included eminent Rabbis, Hassidic singer Yoni Shlomo and special orchestra Yossef Brami, all arriving in “special flights” from Israel, New York and Brussels. The reception was held at the luxurious and exclusive Memling Hotel. Joseph Kabila sent a sizeable delegation but did not attend: his closest advisers provided a blessing on his behalf.
The Gertler, Steinmetz and Templesman interests are advanced in part through the support of the Committee of the Jewish Community of Kinshasa—le Comité de la Communauté Israélite—that is tightly coordinated with the power structure in Kinshasa to exert influence and assure control of Israeli-Belgian-Anglo-American interests over the geopolitical arena.
From June 26-30, 2007, the Communaute Israelite de Kinshasa received a visit from the Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Revah, director of the Africa Department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Revah also flew to Lumumbashi for meetings with Dan Gertler and his agents, including Moishe (Moses) Katumbi, the Governor of Katanga, and they most likely enjoyed a lovely, $23,000 kosher meal sent from the Chabad in Kinshasa. The Communaute Israelite de Kinshasamaintains very intimate political relations with President Joseph Kabila’s PPRD party, the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy. On March 1, 2006, in a formal ceremony, the President of the Communaute Israelite de Kinshasa, Ashlan Piha, was awarded the Congo’s Medal of Civil Merit.
THOU SHALT NOT COVET
Before his assassination on January 16, 2001, Laurent Desire Kabila—the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—made a deal with the Gertler gang that would play out in favor of the current President Joseph Kabila and, it seems, be a central factor in relation to both Congo’s ongoing war and the bloody warlord’s battle in Kinshasa in March 2007.
Back in 2000, former Congolese president Laurent Kabila offered a monopoly on Congolese diamonds, and 88% of the proceeds, to Gertler’s International Diamond Industries (IDI) in exchange for Israeli military assistance to his new government. Top Congolese military officials apparently flew to Israel in 2000 to negotiate the deal. Gertler pledged military assistance to President Laurent Kabila through top Israeli officials.
The original Gertler-Kabila deal fell through after Laurent Kabila was assassinated for not cooperating with the Great White Fathers of industry (January 2001), but Gertler and Leibovitch and their disciples formed another company, Dan Gertler International, and advanced their Congo plan. By 2002 Gertler’s company was the leading exporter of Congolese gems, controlling a diamond mining franchise worth about $US 1 billion annually. 
In 2003, the mighty Congolese diamond parastatal Societe Miniere De Bakwanga (MIBA)—which has been forever controlled by the Great White Fathers in Belgium, Israel and America—signed an exclusive contract with Gertler’s startup company, Emaxon Finance International. The deal involved Israeli’s Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Organization (SIBAT), and high-level Israeli defense and intelligence officials. Gertler and his buddies reportedly bribed Congolese officials and Angolan generals who, on and off, have commanded Angolan Army troops protecting Kinshasa, Congo’s capital.,
Security for mining operations in Congo is provided by exclusive security companies like Overseas Security Services (OSS) one of the many DRC interests of Belgian billionaire tycoon Philippe de Moerloose. A member of the Kinshasa elite, de Moerloose supplies jets and other presidential toys to DRC President Kabila. In 2006, President Joseph Kabila’s campaign helicopter was at the centre of a legal battle involving Philippe de Moerloose. De Moerloose’s companies operated in Mobutu’s Zaire from at least 1991, backing state terrorism and Western corporate plunder that was rendered invisible by the Western media. De Moerloose is also an adviser to European Union (EU) Commissioner—and diamantaire—Louis Michel.
Dan Gertler and Philippe de Moerloose were, reportedly, the only two white men who attended the wedding of Joseph Kabila and the two clearly share interests in “security” provided by OSS at MIBA and elsewhere in Congo. The April 2003 secret agreement signed between the Gertler/Steinmetz company Emaxon Finance and the Kabila government involved MIBA and two de Moerloose companies, OSS-Congo and Demimpex, and other firms.
Overseas Security Services (OSS) operations are apparently grounded in the experience of top expatriate security operatives formerly involved with the biggest security firm in Mobutu’s Zaire. According to OSS public relations materials, “these persons have a not unimportant experience in the safety of this country.” Providing mine security, body-guard and protection services, OSS operates in Burundi, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Dubai, South Africa, Republic of Congo (Brazzavile) and Belgium, placing them in cahoots with all sides warring and plundering eastern Congo today.
Emaxon Finance International is a real gem, one of these octopuses of mining tangled up with interlocking companies and subsidiaries based in specious geographical offshore “tax havens” that work to shield from prosecution people who are responsible for money laundering, weapons and drugs operations, assassinations and other terrorism.
NIKANOR is registered as an Isle of Man (UK) company, an offshore tax haven that helps to conceal criminal activities and maximize profits. NIKANOR directors include Dan Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel (2001-2005) and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research under Madeleine Albright. NIKANOR partners include Mende and Moshe Gertner [sic], Israeli property tycoons with vast holdings in London who control 22 percent of NIKANOR. Another partner is Israeli-born Nir Livnat, managing director of Johannesburg-based Ascot Diamonds, a member of the Steinmetz Group of Diamond Companies, and a principal involved in numerous U.S.-based businesses from Miami to New York.
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS
Back in 2001, when the Gertler enterprises surfaced in dirty diamond deals, public relations was handled by Lior Chorev, the “Special Strategic and Communications Consultant” to International Diamond Industries (IDI), and Chorev continued in this role to support Dan Gertler businesses. Today, Lior Chorev is partnered with the brothers Yuval and Eyal Arad as director-owners of the Israeli marketing and public relations firm, ARAD Communications.
“We do work for Mr. Gertler on some of his business issues,” said Lior Chorev. ARAD’s many clients include Dan Gertler companies, Los Angeles-based Coral Diamonds and an Israeli aeronautics weaponry manufacturer producing Unmanned Aerospace Vehicles (UAVs)—robotic weapons and intelligence platforms like those being used against the people of Congo today. As a political strategist, Lior Chorev has worked for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He has also participated in Israel-NATO defense planning conferences.
Dan Gertler is close to Israeli politicians, especially Avigdor Lieberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, and he is very close to diamantaire Beny Steinmetz, a good friend of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Gertler’s inseperable friend, Chaim Leibovitz, is also very close to Lieberman, and was “a regular fixture” in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offices.
Beny Steinmetz is considered to be one of the richest billionaires in Israel. The Steinmetz Group, controlled with his brother Daniel, is one of the biggest clients of the de Beers diamond syndicate. Steinmetz is also involved in an Israeli real estate group that purchased the assets of the British Haslemere real estate company for $1.46 billion. Steinmetz’s real estate partners include the billionaire Israeli investors David and Simon Reuben, and the Saudi Arabian Olayan Group, an investment company that is deeply connected with Bechtel Corporation. The Steinmetz web site map of operations hides their involvement in war-torn Congo.
Seems Dan Gertler’s land grabs and exclusion in Congo have a lot in common with the current crimes against humanity being committed by Israel through its illegal partition in the Middle East. On January 3, 2008, the Jerusalem Post reported that Lior Chorev was an integral part of past Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s advisers, and he was recently quoted to say that even though Sharon did not get to finalize Israel’s final borders (he suffered a debilitating stroke in 2006), the route of the security fence—which he decided—would ultimately serve as the basis for the border and as Sharon’s lasting legacy.
“He felt he needed to set the border because he didn’t trust the younger generations,” Chorev was quoted to say. “He knew the fence route by heart and the reason for every stretch of land being on one side or the other.”
In 2003, the U.N. Panel of Experts on war in Congo revealed that Emaxon Finance International is controlled by Israeli diamond traders Chaim Leibovitz and Dan Gertler. Emaxon lists as its address an office in Montreal, Canada, but Emaxon’s majority shareholder is listed as FTS Worldwide, a nebulous global corporation whose business address is that of a firm of lawyers, Mossack Fonseca & Company, in Panama City. FTS Worldwide is registered with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to lawyer Andre Zolty of Geneva Switzerland. A copy of the MIBA-Emaxon contract was signed on 13 April 2003 by Israeli-Americans Yaakov Neeman and Chaim Leibovitz.
Yaakov Neeman is a founding partner of Herzog, Fox and Neeman, Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s top law firms, and he has held Israeli government cabinet and ministerial positions. Neeman is on the Advisory Board of Markstone Capital Group, a very influential group of investment bankers, with Eli Hurvitz. On the board of Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries with Eli Hurvitz is Northrup-Grumman director Philip Frost. Both Philip Frost and Maurice Templesman are top-level councilors for the American Stock Exchange. Eli Hurvitz sat on the International Advisory Counsel of Harvard University’s Belfer Center, 2002-2005, during the period when the Belfer Center and their intelligence operative Robert Rotberg formalized the “Kimberley Process” to officially whitewash blood diamonds. Yakov Neeman is also a governor of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency for Israel.
One of the main objectives of the Kimberley Process, and the Harvard Belfer Center’s role, was to protect the South African Oppenheimer and De Beers diamond cartels and their leading buyers and agents like Maurice Templesman and Beny Steinmetz. Added to those diamond industry firms whitewashed by the Kimberley Process are all the Zionist diamond dealers and cartels that have risen like a phoenix out of the ashes of the Holocaust.
The Israeli-American enterprises of the Gertler/Steinmetz gang have proliferated and today are major shareholders or owners of diamond concessions in Congo’s Kasai province and copperbelt concessions in Katanga. The copperbelt is the big money in Congo. Copper prices recently hit an all time high due to monopoly control by corporations and new applications in transportation, aerospace and weaponry. Cobalt is used in dye and paint processes for manufacturing. More importantly, it is elemental to superalloys used for tank armor, spacecraft, turbines, ship hulls, ship hulls, blast furnaces, refineries, petroleum drilling rigs, nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Like coltan, or columbium-tantalite, cobalt is also used in cell phone batteries. The Katanga copperbelt is also rich in germanium, a rare metal used in optical fibers, infrared lenses and telecommunication satellites.
The entire military-industrial-prisons complex revolves around minerals like cobalt, niobium and heterogenite (cobalt oxide), yet the truth about what happens to African people in lands taken over by these mining companies is hidden by the corporate media. More and more land is being stolen, more and more atrocities committed, with less and less transparency, and less and less accountability, and fewer and fewer voices for the voiceless. And, as usual, there are always a lot of empty promises.
THOUGH SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS
Over the past fifty years, elite Israeli nationals have perpetrated conflict and injustice in Africa, fueled by and for minerals. Operatives associated with the Israeli military or intelligence services—the Mossad—maintain strategic criminal syndicates in competition and in partnership with other syndicates involving men like Philippe De Moerloose, Louis Michel, Viscount Etienne Davignon, John Bredenkamp and Tony Buckingham.
Israeli trained shock troops became Mobutu’s bodyguards, with Mossad advisers. According to a report by the American Jewish Committee: after 1980 “Mossad agents, military emissaries, and a small group of private businessmen… replaced diplomats as Israel’s main interlocutors with African leaders and political (mainly opposition) groups.” The report cites rising involvement of private defense and security interests, especially in Angola, DRC and Central Africa Republic, since 1992.
Israeli operatives and “businessmen” appear everywhere there is egregious suffering and dispossession. Dan Gertler’s forays into the bloody world of diamonds involve Israeli arms dealers Yair Klein, who is reportedly wanted by the U.S. for training Medellin drug-cartel militias in Colombia, and Dov Katz. Klein was convicted by Israel (1991) for his involvement with groups that targeted and assassinated Colombian politicians, journalists, and police. Jailed in Sierra Leone in 1999, Klein was a field representative for Gertler in war-torn Sierra Leone and Liberia. Gertler also mingles with the Russian Military Brotherhood, a group of “retired Russian generals whom Gertler describes as good friends.” ,
Retired Israeli Defense Forces Colonel Yair Klein reportedly organized arms for diamonds networks in Sierra Leone and Liberia after President Charles Taylor was deposed. In 1999 Klein was arrested in Sierra Leone on charges of smuggling arms to the rebel Revolutionary United Front. The U.N. also documented collaborations between Sierra Leone’ rebels and Lazare Kaplan agent Damian Gagnon; Lazare Kaplan International is one of the organized crime syndicates of Jewish American Maurice Templesman.
The Steinmetz Group of companies are also involved in the bloody diamond fields of Sierra Leone, along with Energem (formerly DiamondWorks), the company described above that is connected to the white mercenaries depicted in Hollywood’s Blood Diamond propaganda film. In December 2007, local people in Sierra Leone struggling to gain the smallest livelihood from their own resources were shot by police during peaceful protests against the Steinmetz-controlled Koidu Holdings site. It’s the same old local people’s story, happening everywhere. These were people from communities driven off their own land by mining companies that promised the world, cajoled the trusting people, and gave nothing after. The Steinmetz gang called in the local paramilitary, a curfew was imposed and people were shot; the police, as usual, falsely claimed that protesters were armed.
Like most mining mafias in Africa, the Israeli octopus—organized crime syndicates, offshore subsidiaries, interlocking directorships and affiliated mercenaries—has gripped the very heart of Congo like an octopus grips and stuns its prey. Mining regulates the pulse of Congo, and foreign mining companies with their black sell-out agents are sucking the blood out of the people and the wealth out of the land.
THOU SHALT NOT KILL
Beyond the intriguing Jewish rivalry for diamonds in the heart of darkness, this tale takes a chilling turn with the involvement of certain German firms and New York City lawyers. NIKANOR, another Gertler/Steinmetz company of dubious origins operating in DRC, has a subcontract with the notorious ThyssenKrupp conglomerate, a company comprised of two former Nazi weapons manufacturers linked to the New York law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, to Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., Lehman Brothers, Chase Manhattan Bank, J.P. Morgan, DuPont and IBM, in the great Nazi-American money plot.
These companies were all behind the Jewish Holocaust. The infamous German Krupp firm is the industrial corporation that collaborated with former CIA director Allen Dulles and former U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Clients of the Dulles brothers’ law firm Sullivan and Cromwell included Adolph Hitler. Ted Terry, one of the senior counselors of the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell today, is also a director of a philanthropy called the Harold K. Hochschild (HKH) Foundation, named for the mining magnate behind AMAX, a company operating in the copperbelt in Zambia, but whose parent company, Phelps Dodge, operates in Katanga, Congo. Harold K. Hochschild was close to the CIA, and he appears to have backed the Katanga succession in the 1960’s just as Dan Gertler in recent years backed the reorganization of power in Congo by force. Sullivan and Cromwell was also the law firm for AMAX. ,
Brown Brothers Harriman & Company (BBH) was the primary Wall Street connection for German companies and the U.S. financial interests of Fritz Thyssen, an early financial backer of the Nazi party. BBH bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, steel, fuel, coal, and U.S. treasury bonds to Germany. These were used to build Hitler’s war machine, and the ties proliferated even after the Nazi concentration camps began churning out skeletons. The horrors of the concentration camps at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Buckenwald became public knowledge long before they became public outrage. It is the same story for Congo.
A PRAYER FOR THE DEAD
There are no records or statistics of the numbers of people brutalized or killed in the diamond or cobalt mining areas, like Kolwezi, Mbuji Mayi, Tshikapa, Banalia, or Kananga in DRC, or Ndola in Zambia, and many of the victims of security abuses will never be known.
When Gertler and Steinmetz and their buddies came to Congo it was soon clear that they had to challenge Zimbabwean tycoons John Bredenkamp and Billy Rautenbach—two cronies of dictator Robert Mugabe involved in pillaging Congo and Zimbabwe for decades. The United Nations Panel of Experts on DRC named both men for plundering copper and cobalt from Katanga, and both deal globally in weapons. Bredenkamp is one of the fifty richest men in England and he reportedly owns a mansion several doors down from Margaret Thatcher’s residence in London.
On November 7, 2007 it was reported that Dan Gertler was instrumental in putting together a deal in which Katanga Mining Ltd. would buy rival NIKANOR for $2.1 billion and merge their adjacent mine projects in Congo to form the world’s largest cobalt company. Also announced was a joint venture between the Central African Mining & Exploration Company (CAMEC) and another Gertler-controlled firm called Prairie International Limited.
The CAMEC/Prairie joint venture will exploit DRC’s Luita copper processing facility, develop the Mukondo Mountain cobalt mine—called the world’s richest cobalt mine—and work on “other” exploration properties. Prairie is majority owned by the family of Dan Gertler. CAMEC is connected to Zimbabwean/South African/British tycoon Billy Rautenbach. The DRC government effectively banned controversial Zimbabwean businessman Billy Rautenbach from the country by declaring him persona non grata in July 2007, but this doesn’t seem to stop him from getting what he wants. Rautenbach is also wanted in South Africa on 300 charges of fraud, corruption and theft.Rautenbach is a former motor car rally driver who controls a business empire in Southern and Central Africa through a British Virgin Islands company called Ridgepoint Overseas Development Limited. In 1998, the short-lived President of Congo, Laurent Kabila, named Rautenbach the managing director of La Générale des Carrières et des Mines (Gécamines), one of Africa’s biggest cobalt mines, the Katanga properties of the Union Miniere de Haut Katanga formerly developed by the Belgian colonial government. Rautenbach today is one of the Africa’s largest exporters of heterogenite (cobalt ore) from the DRC through his Congo Cobalt Company (CoCoCo), but he also has shares in two other lucrative DRC mining firms—Boss and Mukondo—which reportedly earn over US$100 million a month.
While there has been a lot of Western media fanfare over the Kabila governments’ supposed “independent” review of mining contracts, little substantive change can be expected. Structural factors exploit the Congolese people and lands and benefit white businessmen, arms dealers, bankers, and their embraceable black agents. Big business benefits from perception management articles well-placed in media to give the impression that the international system is just, that there are watchdogs, checks and balances.
However, while the DRC and the World Bank present a propaganda front about their ostensible attention to mining reform and the new mining code, NIKANOR—Mining Journal reports—“is in the advantageous position of having entered into a post mining-code contract, ‘which makes us [NIKANOR] relatively comfortable’”  In other words, the mining review is a sham, it may force some changes, but it will be cosmetic at best.
Dan Gertler and the Steinmetz Group’s partner Jewish-American Nir Livnat is also a director of Anglovaal Mining with Rick and Brian Menell and Basil Hersov of the South African Menell and Hersov dynasties. Hersov has been named as a beneficiary of fraud and racketeering involving British BAE Systems weapons deals with shady offshore companies.
The octopus of South African connections is a story in itself, with links to top officials from Britain to Canada, like Canadian Senator J. Trevor Eyton, and offshore mining companies involved in all the big money (diamonds, gold, petroleum, cobalt) and big corporations with interlocking directorships: Coca Cola, Nestlé, General Motors, and the Bush-connected Barrick Gold Corporation. Barrick, of course, is partnered up with the Oppenheimer/De Beers firm Anglo-American Corporation at six sites in Africa, including Congo.
Rick Menell is a director of Bateman Engineering—owned by Benny Steinmetz—the junior partner of the NIKANOR projects in Katanga. Britain’s Earl of Balfour is a director of both Bateman and NIKANOR. Menell is also the director of Teal Exploration and Mining, whose directors include Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique; Murray Hitzman, a Clinton administration official with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (1994-1996); Hannes Meyer, who worked with Anglo-Gold Ashanti in Congo, 1999-2006, when militias in Ituri were funded to get the gold out. Teal Exploration also has ties to Anvil Mining and Anglo-American Corporation.
Brian Menell, Nir Livnat’s associate on the board of Anglovaal, is on the board of Energem (formerly DiamondWorks) with Tony and Mario Teixeira. The Livnat connection ties Teixeira into networks that have supported both Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba in Congo’s bloody wars. Energem is also involved in the trans-Uganda-Kenya pipeline, along with Nexant, a subsidiary of the deep intelligence and defense insider Bechtel Corporation.
Brian Menell is also on the board of First Africa Oil, which operates in seven African countries, and First Africa Oil director John Bentley is a director of Osprey Oil and Gas, whose directors include Carol Bell, a director of the Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank. Bentley is also on the board of Adastra Minerals—formerly America Mineral Fields (AMF, AMFI, AMX), a company based in 1995 in Hope, Arkansas—and set up by Robert Friedland and Max and Jean-Raymond Boulle, notable “friends of Bill” Clinton. Since 1995, American Mineral Fields has been involved in Brazil, Russia, Norway, Zambia, Angola and the DRC. A criminal backer of the war in DRC, Jean-Raymond Boulle, who holds 36.4 % of the company stock, was the former General Director of De Beers in Zaire, part of the Templesman alliance of terrorism under the Mobutu regime.,
The Gertler/Steinmetz interests apparently curry huge favors with Congo’s number two most powerful man, Augustine Katumba Mwanke, one of Joseph Kabila’s closest allies and financiers, former Governor of Katanga (1998-2001) and director of Australia’s Anvil Mining. The UN Panel of Experts (2002) cited Mwanke for illegal arms deals and plunder of Congo: Mwanke negotiated arms purchases through Belgian banks and the DRC mining company MIBA. Reportedly, Mwanke personally clears $US 1,000,000 a day through his interests in Katanga mining deals.
Anvil Mining has been involved in massacres in DRC. Anvil directors include former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth L. Brown, who served at U.S. embassies in Brussels, Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville and South Africa. Brown was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa (1987-1989) under George Schultz and George H.W. Bush and Director of Central African Affairs (1980-1981). The former top internal intelligence and security chief of the United Nations Observer’s Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has been worked for Anvil mining in Katanga since 2006.
THOU SHALT NOT RAPE AND PLUNDER
Gertler/Steinmetz interests have also been jostling for copper and cobalt concessions with Kinross-Forrest Group. Gertler has bought up or invested heavily in companies just to close them down. George Forrest also made the UN hit list of Congo’s looters and Forrest and his three sons helped bankroll Joseph Kabila’s 2006 election “victory”. George Forrest’s daughter is reportedly married to the son of Louis Michel. Malta and George Forrest are controlling directors in Katanga Mining Limited.
Born as Entreprise Générale Malta Forrest, the Belgian Forrest interests have been pillars of exploitation in Congo since at least 1922, when they launched mining operations in Katanga. Forrest’s Katanga Mining directors include: three Canadians; Congo’s Jean-Claude Masangu Mulongo, a former Governor of DRC and high official at the IMF and World Bank; and the current Governor of the Central Bank of DRC. The Forrest dynasty has munitions factories in Belgium and Kenya, and has partnered with OM-Group, in Ohio [USA], dealing in Congo’s cobalt and coltan. Forrest International also operates in Europe, Burundi—involving him on both sides of Congo’s bloody war—and the Middle East. Forrest interests in DRC include aviation, foods, plantations, construction, logging, copper and cobalt mining. Forrest companies are enmeshed in the coltan plunder in eastern Congo.
Katanga is the world’s richest mining metropolis, part of the vast copper belt that stretches across northern Zambia and southern Congo—and the home to unprecedented human misery due to state orchestrated repression and communities overrun with toxic mining, tuberculosis, cancers, immune disorders, racial discrimination and slavery. The Zambian copperbelt concessions over the border involve many of the same companies and interests mentioned above, and others.
Workers and communities in and around these mines suffer all the standard treatable maladies (typhoid, malaria, tetanus, polio, malnutrition) as well. However, such stories are off the agenda for the North American, European, Japanese, Australian and Israeli media corporations providing the mainstay of English language indoctrination meant to instill racial superiority and a vast ignorance and obliviousness that leaves westerns populations shaking their heads and wringing their hands and clicking their tongues, while all the while wondering “what is to be done?” It does not cross people’s minds that their own hands are dirty, that their own consciousness has been falsified, as all the raw materials from Congo enrich the lives of people in the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel.
The immediate capital investment required for just one Gertler project in Katanga—the Komoto Oliveira Virgule (KOV) project—is reportedly $US 1.8 billion dollars, income to kick start billions of dollars of unused equipment mothballed in the middle Mobutu era. There are rumors that Bechtel is involved, but the KOV project involves ThyssenKrupp AG as a minor player.
The Krupp firm is one of several German firms involved in the plunder in eastern Congo, exploitation which involves the DeutscheGesellschaft für technische Zusammenarbeit—GTZ—a “German technological cooperation agency” whose Supervisory Board has representatives of four Federal [German] Ministries. Krupp industries use coltan and cobalt for superalloys. Dr.-Ing. Ekkehard D. Schultz, a ThyssenKrupp director, is also a director of Bayer AG, the Germany firm whose subsidiary H.C. Starck was named for its involvement in the ongoing illegal plunder of coltan and cassiterite (tin) in eastern Congo. NIKANOR director Jay Pomrenze is also a consultant for the Deutsche Bank. Certain German and U.S. firms benefit from the military occupation of Rwandan-backed warlord Laurent Nkunda in North Kivu, DRC, where Nkunda controls the Lueshe niobium mine “owned” by Gesellschaft fuer Elektrometallurgie GmbH, a subsidiary of New York-based Mettalurg Group., 
HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER
Dan Gertler’s grandfather, Moshe Schnitzer (d. November 2007), was known in Israel as “Mr. Diamond;” in youth he joined the pre-state underground organization Etzel (Irgoun), an Israeli military cell self-defined as an “untra-nationationalist Jewish militia,” but one that committed acts of terrorism in service to the Israeli cause. Moshe Schnitzer assumed a major role in the Africa-Israeli diamond trade in the 1950’s in a partnership business called Schnitzer-Greenstein. Schnitzer later founded the Israel Diamond Exchange in Tel Aviv in 1960, which today brings Israel $14 billion annually in blood business, and is the country’s second-largest industry, but Israel’s top export. King Leopold III of Belgium decorated Schnitzer in recognition of his activities favoring the close relationship of Belgium, Israel and the DeBeers diamond cartels, and Schnitzer was also President of the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum in Israel.
The diamond jewelry trade in the United States is more than $30 billion annually, and 99%—everything that is not synthetic or artificial diamonds—involves blood diamonds and the above organized crime syndicates. Israel buys more than 50% of the world’s rough diamonds, and the U.S. buys two-thirds of these. The diamond factories are located in Nethanya, Petach Tikvah, Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Jerusalem, and other cities around the country, but most of the offices were in Tel Aviv in the financial district on Ahad Ha’am Street. Dan Gertler’s father, Asher Gertler, and his uncle, Shmuel Schnitzer, manage the original family business, and Shmuel is Vice-Chairman of the Belgian-based World Diamond Council—the entity that spends more money promoting the false image of “conflict-free” diamonds than it does helping any of the people dispossessed or brutalized by the diamond industry.
On August 16, 2007 Rabbi Bentolila in Kinshasa received a communication asking: “What does the Torah say about men exploiting other men for vast profits while other men are starving and dying all around them? Is there some hierarchy to the Torah that suggests, for example, that black people or Africans are lesser beings, and therefore not to be a concern where profound profits are being made?”
There was no reply from Rabbi Bentolila, he was apparently busy readying for another Bar Mitsvah in Belgium.