Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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ISIS fish farms supplement income

May 2, 2016

That and poultry, which in Iraq means chicken and pigeons.  The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is charging a 10 percent, or ushr, customs duty on imports.  The New York Times ran this story with a headline suggesting that ISIS was resorting to the fish farms to make up for lost oil revenues.  But in the text of the article, sources admit that Syrian oil refineries are still ISIS’s primary source of money.  Keep that cork in the champagne bottles, fellas.

Hat tip to El Grillo for sending the report, which is actually from Reuters:

BAGHDAD — Islamic State earns millions of dollars a month running car dealerships and fish farms in Iraq, making up for lower oil income after its battlefield losses, Iraqi judicial authorities said on Thursday.

Security experts once estimated the ultra-radical Islamist group’s annual income at $2.9 billion, much of it coming from oil and gas installations in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition has targeted Islamic State’s financial infrastructure, using air strikes to reduce its ability to extract, refine and transport oil and so forcing fighters to reportedly take significant pay cuts.

Yet the militants, who seized a third of Iraq’s territory and declared a caliphate in 2014, seem to be adapting again to this latest set of constraints, in some cases reviving previous profit-turning ventures like farming.

“The terrorists’ current financing mechanism has changed from what it was before the announcement of the caliphate nearly two years ago,” a report by Iraq’s central court of investigation said, quoting Judge Jabbar Abid al-Huchaimi.

“After the armed forces took control of several oil fields Daesh was using to finance its operations, the organization devised non-traditional ways of paying its fighters and financing its activities,” the report added, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Fishing in hundreds of lakes north of Baghdad generates millions of dollars a month, according to the report. Some owners fleeing the area abandoned their farms while others agreed to cooperate with Islamic State to avoid being attacked.

“Daesh treats its northern Baghdad province as a financial center; it is its primary source of financing in the capital in particular,” Huchaimi said. Islamic State carries out frequent bombings in Baghdad against security forces and Shi’ite residents.

SELLING CARS, RUNNING FACTORIES

Fish farms have supplied militants with income since 2007 when Islamic State’s al Qaeda predecessor fought U.S. occupation forces but the mechanism only came to the authorities’ attention this year, the report said.

The militants also tax agricultural land and impose a 10 percent levy on poultry and other duties on a range of imports into their territory, it added.

“Recently there has been reliance on agricultural lands in areas outside the control of the (Iraqi) security forces through taxes imposed on farmers.”

New revenues are also being generated from car dealerships and factories once run by the Iraqi government in areas seized by the militants.

Those have helped offset the losses from lower oil income, though perhaps only partially. The U.S.-based analysis firm IHS said last week that Islamic State revenues had fallen by around a third since last summer to around $56 million a month.

“In the recent period, Daesh has gone back to using government factories in the areas it controls – like Mosul – for financial returns,” Huchaimi said, but added that oil smuggling from Syrian refineries remains the group’s primary source of international financing…

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Wildlife smuggling is big business

December 11, 2015

The illegal wildlife trade could become as big as the drug trade, according to this recent Seeker Stories video:

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UN suspects Mali terrorists are poaching wildlife

October 27, 2015

Slaughtering elephants and selling their ivory?  Using the profits to buy weapons?  The worrisome thing about this report is that it comes from Mali, not from East Africa where such reports are more commonplace.  It suggests that the tactic of poaching to fund jihad is spreading to northwestern Africa.  From Vice News on Oct. 20 (h/t El Grillo):

Terrorist Groups Are Poaching Elephants In Northern Mali, Warns UN

Terrorist groups in northern Mali are among those poaching the region’s shrinking herd of desert elephants, according to the United Nations, part of a global wildlife trafficking trade that helps fund armed groups and fuel conflict.

“We strongly suspect there is a link between the poachers and the armed terrorists, who could be relying on the illegal ivory trade to finance some of their activities,” said Sophie Raviers, the UN’s environment representative in Mali…

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Sudanese families finance poaching syndicates

July 4, 2014

Families from Darfur are behind the financing of company-sized cavalry elements that are poaching elephants in central Africa according to an International Crisis Group report. The elephant ivory and rhino horn are purchased mostly by the Chinese, but in some cases by the Lebanese. Previous reporting has indicated that the perpetrators of genocide in Darfur include state-backed Islamist militiamen who profit from the illegal ivory trade.

And Sudan has the nerve to question why they are still listed as a state sponsor of terrorism?

From Radio Tamajuz (h/t @APIGSA):

Sudan key route for ivory from Central Africa: report

KHARTOUM (19 Jun.)

Darfur, the southwestern region of Sudan, has become a key route for smuggling of ivory from the Central African Republic to international black markets. Not only the traders but also many of the hunters themselves are reported to be Sudanese.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), a research organization, published a new report on the crisis in Central Africa, in which it discussed the issue of smuggling of ivory and diamonds to Sudan.

Crisis Group says that foreign poachers “now traverse the whole country due to the disappearance of elephants and rhinos in the east.” Typically the foreign poachers are aided by local networks. They leave behind the meat while exporting the tusks.

Citing interviews with the wildlife ministry and the former director of the Sangha Nature Reserve, ICG stated, “Much of the ivory is taken through the northeast of the country before passing to Sudan, while a more insignificant amount is taken to Bangui where it is bought by local traders (Chinese, Lebanese) or to Cameroon in markets in Libongo and Yokadouma.”

Last year in May the World Wildlife Fund reported that horse-mounted Sudanese ivory poachers killed at least 26 elephants in the Dzanga Bai national park. According to Crisis Group, these poachers were bearing an order signed by a government official in Bangui in order to facilitate their expedition.

The ICG report explains, “The poachers form groups of 20 to 80 people and practice militarized poaching in the east of Central Africa. According to corroborating sources, these groups are armed with AK-47s, equipped with satellite phones and financed by certain Sudanese families living in the Nyala area in South Darfur.”

The poachers are selling ivory in the Sudanese cities Buram, Tulus and Um Dafog, located not far from the borders with Central Africa and South Sudan. From these towns it is sent to Nyala and then exported mainly to Asia.

Officials as far as Cameroon have implicated Sudanese poachers in killings of elephants. In early 2012 officials and wildlife organizations reported that nearly 300 elephants were slaughtered in a single dry season campaign…

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Catalan rangers catch falcon smugglers

March 31, 2014

Arab falconry - http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/257/cache/abu-dhabi-desert-falcon_25765_600x450.jpg

British and Spanish authorities have unraveled an international falcon smuggling ring in Catalonia. The news report doesn’t mention it, but the demand for falcons is almost exclusively from the Middle East. The main market is the Persian Gulf, and Dubai is a key port of entry and transit (as it also is for smuggled ivory, big cats, and other wildlife contraband). From Wildlife Extra on Mar. 20:

Bird crime ring busted by Spanish and UK wildlife crime units

The UK National Wildlife Crime Unit have helped COS AGENTS RURALS DE CATALUNYA (Catalonia Rural Ranger Corps) uncover an international bird laundering ring.

Agents in Spain investigating individuals keeping Peregrine falcons, became suspicious of documentation that they had seized, which indicated that falcons in their possession had been captive bred in the UK.

Enquiries by the NWCU revealed that leg rings being worn by some of the falcons in Spain were not the original rings referred to on the documentation.

Evidence gleaned by the NWCU suggests that fake rings are being manufactured to match genuine permits…

What is the connection between hunting with falcons and financing terrorism, apart from the fact that both involve wealthy Arabs? The filmmakers of “Feathered Cocaine,” the 2010 documentary about falcons and Osama Bin Laden, revealed the following:

Feathered Cocaine interviews Robert Baer, a former CIA agent, about the Royal Falconry Camps and how they are used to funnel huge amounts of cash to Terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The money transfers are cash only and are flown between countries in large military Government airplanes that are not checked by customs upon arrival. The CIA believes these planes are used to deliver cars, cash, weapons and supplies to militant terrorists. The Persian Gulf rulers have refused to shut down these camps when asked to do so…

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Radical finance: recommended reading

February 6, 2014

Thanks to tipsters Arun, “Mean Kitteh,” and Andrew Bowen for sending links about these items:

  • Reuters reports that Congress “secretly approves” arming the rebels in Syria… more>>
  • The president of a Muslim Brotherhood-linked mosque in Charleston has been indicted in a multimillion dollar cigarette smuggling scheme… more>>
  • Poaching wildlife has become the 4th most lucrative illicit activity in the world… more>>
  • Cuba has announced that it will freeze any assets of Al Qaeda in its banks. One analyst explains why the new sanctions are meaningless, and why terrorists deposit money in Cuba in the first place… more>>
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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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Wildlife smugglers can’t deceive these dogs

May 10, 2013

The illicit trade in endangered species has been a growing source of terrorist revenues.  A new dog training program will help detect items illegally trafficked through the U.S.  Take a look at this video from the Fish & Wildlife Service and a related article by Russell McClendon of the Mother Nature Network (h/t CITES):

U.S. trains dogs to sniff out wildlife traffickers

The first graduating class of ‘wildlife detector dogs’ will soon be stationed at ports around the U.S., part of a growing effort to stem the illegal trade of flora and fauna.

If you’re a poacher hoping to smuggle rhino horns through a U.S. port, Uncle Sam wants you to know you’re barking up the wrong tree. And he has a new team of elite, hard-nosed cops to help him deliver that message: Butter, Viper, Lancer and Locket.

The first class of “wildlife inspector dogs” graduated this week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC) in Newnan, Ga., where they spent 13 weeks learning to identify the scent of endangered species — whether it’s South American rosewood or African elephant ivory. The four graduates, along with their human handlers, will soon be stationed at key ports around the country, where they’ll join a nationwide effort to stem the illegal trade in plant and animal parts.

“The recent rapid growth in the global trade in protected wildlife is pushing some species perilously close to extinction,” says Ed Grace, deputy chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, in a press release. “Elephant and rhino populations in particular are declining at alarming rates. The battle to stop wildlife smuggling is one we simply cannot afford to lose, and using dogs and their phenomenal sense of smell to catch smugglers will give us a real leg up in this effort.”

Dogs already have a long history in law enforcement, from hunting fugitives to helping police detect bombs and drugs. But while they’ve been man’s best friend for millennia, their high-powered noses are increasingly ingratiating them to Mother Nature, too. Florida wildlife officials train dogs to sniff out invasive pythons in the Everglades, for example, while conservationists at the University of Washington train them to track endangered native animals by smelling their scat. On a small island in Australia, sheepdogs have even been entrusted to protect a population of endangered penguins.

But the task facing Bullet, Viper, Lancer and Locket — as well as future NDDTC cadets — is much broader than patrolling a single ecosystem. They will soon accompany agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the front lines of an expanding battle, one that pits international crime syndicates against a wide array of rare wildlife.

This comes on the heels of an unusually fruitful wildlife-trade summit held in Bangkok last month, one that highlighted both the gravity of the problem and the emerging possibilities for containing it. Conservationists pulled off several victories during the 2013 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), including new trade protections for sharks, turtles, elephants and great apes. But as critical as such regulations are, they’re only as effective as their enforcers. The U.S. is a major market for illegally traded wildlife, and human officers can only inspect so many packages.

“On an average day, I as a human being can physically inspect, if I’m pushing myself hard, anywhere from 70 to 100 packages,” FWS wildlife inspector Denise Larison says in a video about the new dog program. “And as you can see, the dogs can do 70 to 100 packages in a matter of minutes”…

Related:  Stella the dog finds €3m in illicit cash

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Black money news: recommended reading

March 8, 2013

• Jiminy cricket! Our friend El Grillo says a “Stockholm suicide bomber falsely claimed student loans to fund his terrorist activity.”  The latest case of debt financing the jihadmore>>

• The good news is that Indian financial institutions are getting better about filing suspicious transaction reports. The bad news is that it makes it look like India has experienced a 300 percent increase in terrorist financing activity since last year.  Maybe they have… more>>

• Which way is the wind blowing?  Towards Iran.  Just ask Europe about its renewable energy sanctions waiver for Iranian wind power.  Thanks to Willauer Prosky for sending this in… more>>

• International financial watchdog FATF is supposed to counter the financing of terrorism. But lately it seems more focused on getting countries to pass meaningless laws and high-fiving itself… more from Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld>>

Money Jihad has covered the illicit wildlife trade, particularly in cheetahs by rich Arab buyers. But even we didn’t know how extensive the cheetah market has become in Dubai.  No reporting yet on how the smugglers use the revenues… more>>

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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.