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Liberia's Charles Taylor Denies al Qaeda Link - 2002-12-30

A senior Liberian Government official has rejected a Washington Post report that the country's President is linked to Al Qaeda, the international terrorist organization. The Washington Post in its Sunday edition said President Charles Taylor and President Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso have been harboring operatives of Al Qaeda.

In his initial response to the Washington Post Newspaper story, Deputy Presidential Affairs Minister Alexander Kulu criticizes the writer of the article – Douglas Farah, describing him a liar and paid agent.

Mr. Kulu says the government will not dignify the article because according to him - this is an extension of what he calls the international campaign against the Taylor administration.

The Washington Post on Sunday reported that President Taylor received one million dollar payment for harboring some Al Qaeda operatives who were in West Africa two months after the September 11th attacks on the United States.

The article says Al Qaeda secret business operations have been taking place in the West African states of Liberia and Burkina Faso.

The publication says in the weeks after the September 11 attacks two senior Al Qaeda operatives supervising a diamond trade were allegedly hiding in an elite military camp in Liberia.

Both men are said to be on the most wanted list of terrorists of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI.

The Washington Post also says Ibraham Bah – a Senegalese - has been involved in diamond and gun trafficking across Africa for years.

The Washington Post - 13 month ago - first reported the Al Qaeda diamond transactions in West Africa.

In another development, President Charles Taylor has called for a nationwide protest against the Bush Administration for its policy towards Liberia.

President Taylor told a group of partisans at the weekend that the United States is working against the interests of his administration.

Mr. Taylor also accuses the United States of fueling the war in northwestern Liberia. He says the Bush Administration could stop the rebel war if it wanted to.

Meanwhile, two officials of the inter-religious Council of Liberia have been arrested on charges of being rebel collaborators.

One of those arrested is the secretary-general of the inter-religious Council of Liberia, David Kiazolu.