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.