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¿Terrorists Prefer Diamonds¿ How predation, state collapse and insurgence have fashioned the international exploitation of Sierra Leone¿s war economy

By Greg Mitchell


Between 1991 and 2000, Sierra Leone experienced massive state and economic decline amidst a brutal\ud civil war. In a country that is minerally wealthy, but ruled by a corrupt and predatory government, a\ud `revolutionary¿ movement known as the RUF emerged, terrorising the civilian population and profiting\ud from the unsecured diamond industry.\ud The classic causes given for Sierra Leone¿s state collapse and consequent civil war have in large centred\ud around the adverse effects of colonialism, civil unrest due to rampant governmental kleptocracy, and regional\ud conflict spillover. However, the multiplicity of actors in Sierra Leone and the complexity of the environment\ud demonstrate that the ten year civil war revolved predominantly around the country¿s highly lucrative\ud diamonds.\ud Indoctrinated in Qadafi¿s Libya and trained by Taylor¿s NPFL rebels in Liberia, the RUF insurgency created\ud links through Charles Taylor to international criminals such as weapon¿s dealer Victor Bout, and international\ud terrorists including al Qaeda. In just a few years Sierra Leone attained the dubious distinction of being one\ud of the most globalised informal and illegal economies in the world.\ud To the backdrop of Sierra Leone¿s collapsed state, economic vacuum and brutal civil war, and within the\ud context of contemporary economic globalisation and an international `War on Terror¿, this paper discusses\ud the local, regional and international levels of economic exploitation throughout the wartime period, and\ud highlights how informal economies are inherently prone to large scale criminal predation

Topics: Sierra Leone, Civil war, RUF insurgency, Diamond industry, Informal economies, Civil unrest
Year: 2005
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Provided by: Bradford Scholars
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