Posts Tagged ‘ivory’

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How al-Shabaab controls the ivory trade

January 20, 2014

Marauders in eastern Kenya poach for ivory.  The ivory is bought by brokers who arrange for transport of the merchandise with al-Shabaab through Somalia.  Al-Shabaab exports the ivory from the Somali coast to the illicit world market.

Inter Press Service reports (h/t El Grillo):

…In 2012 and 2013 alone, nearly 60,000 elephants and over 1,600 rhinos were illegally killed for their tusks.

The driving force behind this practice is clearly the significant money that can still be made from these products. According to expert estimates, a rhino horn is worth 50,000 dollars per pound on the black market, more than the value of gold or platinum.

This, activists say, makes poaching very hard to resist.

“Most people know that this is wrong, but you need to make a distinction between poacher and poacher,” Andrea Crosta, the executive director of Elephant Action League (EAL), a U.S.-based group that fights poaching and illegal trafficking, told IPS.

“On one end, you have the poor local tribesman with no job who just needs the money. On the other, you have the organised criminal gangs, with weapons and money, who are able to bribe rangers and get their information.”

Crosta says a pair of tusks can be worth a few years’ salary in many African countries.

“To someone with no job and a large family to feed, that’s a lot of money,” he says. “They know it’s wrong, but the temptation is just too strong.”

Together with a team of EAL members, Crosta spent much of 2010 to 2012 investigating poaching in East Africa. According to their findings, large quantities of ivory were getting into Somalia in a systematic, organised way.

Later, they discovered this process was being run by Al-Shabaab.

“We were undercover, pretending to be researchers and zoologists, and that way we were able to speak with small and big traders, poachers and middlemen,” Crosta, who is currently based in the Netherlands, told IPS.

His team was able to unveil an undercover trafficking system that saw between one and three tonnes of ivory getting into Somalia, facilitated by Al-Shabaab, every month…

The Elephant Action League has previously reported that, “Shabaab has been actively buying and selling ivory as a means of funding their militant operations,” and that Kenyan ivory brokers prefer working with al-Shabaab middlemen because of their organizational skills and efficiency.  Moreover, “the terrorist group pays better than average prices (U.S. $200 per kilogram in 2011-2012), making them desirable buyers of illicit ivory from small-time brokers.”

See previous Money Jihad coverage of ivory-funded terror here and here.

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Why jihadists ignore the ivory trade ban

October 6, 2013

It should not surprise us that terrorists who have no respect for human life have even less respect for the lives of animals, much less critically endangered ones.

A recent assessment of the Elephant Action League is that as much as 40 percent of al-Shabaab’s revenues come from the illegal trade in ivory (h/t Sal), which is driving rhinos and elephants closer toward extinction.

Why does al-Shabaab believe that it is permissible to profit from this dreadful business?  It could be purely financial (like al-Shabaab’s hyena meat sales), but it’s worth examining how al-Shabaab’s leaders would justify behavior which, on its face, may appear to contradict passages of the Koran about treating animals gently.

One consideration is that whatever protections to animals that may be afforded under Islamic law can also be overridden in the in larger interests of profit and jihad—two topics which are the focus of far more Koranic verses than animal rights.

The Koran declares, “Allah hath allowed trade” (2:275), and sharia law provides protection to Muslim traders engaged in commerce.  The prominent Islamic philosopher Imran Hosein says “we stand for a free and a fair market around the world.”  Sanctions and embargos have been called “un-Islamic,” and has been suggested that Islam generally endorses free trade without restrictions on any merchandise other than goods which are specifically declared halal such as pork and wine.

Secondly, the Islamist ivory purveyors are unlikely to accept the concept of limiting their own lucrative trade to protect what they perceive to be abstract ecological interests imposed by international, secular law.  Groups such as al-Shabaab may also reason, as have many other jihadists and their imams, that if the proceeds of illegal activity are used in the furtherance of Islam, then it is ultimately justifiable under Islamic law.

A final challenge to limiting the illegal wildlife trade is that terrorists and smugglers in Africa are often working for or with businessmen in Dubai.  Although it is a signatory to the international convention against the international trade in endangered species, the UAE is a major enabler and broker for the exploitation of Africa’s natural resources, and is a hub for the global black market.

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Ivory terror: elephant bloodbath funds jihadists

December 3, 2012

Sudanese Arab militiamen and Somali al-Shabaab terrorists are financing their jihad from poaching raids against the endangered wildlife of their mostly Christian neighbors.

The janjaweed poachers use the profits from massacring the African elephant to continue their massacres against black Africans in Darfur.  The common link is their utter disregard for life and for the rule of law.

From the Africa Review on Nov. 17:

Cameroon deploys crack unit to foil Sudanese poachers

Cameroon’s Special Forces have been deployed to foil an imminent raid by Sudanese poachers who for eight weeks earlier this year slaughtered half the population of elephants for their ivory at one of the country’s wildlife reserves.

The poachers have been attempting to take park guards in northern Cameroon by surprise by exploiting greater ground cover that has sprouted in the rainy season, according to international conservation body World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which said it had been informed by high ranking officials of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) on Friday.

“This is the same group of poachers that in early 2012 travelled more than 1,000km on horseback from northern Sudan across the Central African Republic and Chad to kill over 300 elephants in the Bouba N’Djida National Park in northern Cameroon,” WWF said.

The heavily armed and well coordinated poachers, who had told local villagers of their plans to kill as many elephants as possible, claimed they had killed as much as 650 out of some 1,000 that roamed the park.

The elephant population in Cameroon and in central Africa is estimated to have been halved, mainly by poachers, between 1995 and 2007 with the number of elephants killed still on the rise…

The article does not precisely identify whom the Sudanese poachers are or for what they will use the ivory profits.  But a story from the New York Times in September explained that Sudan’s janjaweed, the Arab supremacists who bear responsibility for the genocide against black Africans in Darfur, are offenders in the illegal ivory trade:

Several Sudanese ivory traders and Western officials said that the infamous janjaweed militias of Darfur were also major poachers. Large groups of janjaweed — the word means horseback raider — were blamed for killing thousands of civilians in the early 2000s, when Darfur erupted in ethnic conflict. International law enforcement officials say that horseback raiders from Darfur wiped out thousands of elephants in central Africa in the 1980s. Now they suspect that hundreds of janjaweed militiamen rode more than 600 miles from Sudan and were the ones who slaughtered at least 300 elephants in Bouba Ndjida National Park in Cameroon this past January, one of the worst episodes of elephant slaughter recently discovered.

In 2010, Ugandan soldiers, searching for Mr. Kony in the forests of the Central African Republic, ran into a janjaweed ivory caravan. “These guys had 400 men, pack mules, a major camp, lots of weapons,” a Western official said. A battle erupted and more than 10 Ugandans were killed.

“It just shows you the power of poaching, how much money you can make stacking up the game,” the official said.

How much and for what purpose?  Der Spiegel reports that janjaweed poachers use the proceeds for arms:  “The millions of dollars their poaching raid must have brought in will allow them to replenish their weapons stores.”

Although no Somalis were mentioned in the latest Cameroon hunt, the New York Times also identified al-Shabaab as an ivory poaching participant:

Perhaps no country in Africa is as lawless as Somalia, which has languished for more than 20 years without a functioning central government, spawning Islamist militants, gunrunners, human traffickers and modern-day pirates. Ivory has entered this illicit mix.

Several Somali elders said that the Shabab, the militant Islamist group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, recently began training fighters to infiltrate neighboring Kenya and kill elephants for ivory to raise money.

One former Shabab associate said that the Shabab were promising to “facilitate the marketing” of ivory and have encouraged villagers along the Kenya-Somalia border to bring them tusks, which are then shipped out through the port of Kismayo, a notorious smuggling hub and the last major town the Shabab still control.

“The business is a risk,” said Hassan Majengo, a Kismayo resident with knowledge of the ivory trade, “but it has an exceptional profit.”

Read more details of al-Shabaab’s involvement in the ivory trade here.

Sadly, the Islamist culture and tradition of raiding, pillaging, plundering and exploitation of natural resources and property is alive and well.