The White Gold of JihadÂ (NER)
You might think this will be about heroin. Or sex slaves. Islam grows fat on both these. And here’s a third. Elephant ivory.
How is the carnage at an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi linked to a surge in the poaching of wild elephants in Africa? The connection goes back to the old Watergate adage that is critical to all anti-terrorism efforts: Follow the money. Elephants are being slaughtered in record numbers in Africa. As reported in The Washington Post last summer, more than 30,000 elephants were killed by poachers last year, the largest number in decades. Over the last five years there has been a huge spike in poaching that threatens the extinction of one of the planet’s most intelligent and iconic species.
Rebels and militias islamic supremacists across Africa have discovered the illegal trade in elephant ivory. Coveted in Asia, their tusks bring in handsome sums that are funding wars across the continent. Many game wardens hardly stand a chance against the slaughter. (Spiegel)
Al-Shabaab finances as much as 40% of its operations this way.Â The supply of ivory for al-Shabaab and other militant groups is, obviously, dead elephants. As demand for ivory continues to surge in China and other Asian countries, the slaughter is growing industrial in scale and efficiency, fueling a trade worth $7 billion to $10 billion a year.Â It no longer seems, if it ever was, to be poaching by poor locals, hoping to make enough to feed their families and pay school fees.
Al Shabab is financing a significant portion of its military operations by poaching elephants. AÂ 2011 report by the Elephant Action League, whose mission is to fight elephant exploitation and wildlife crime, dubs elephant ivory “the white gold of jihad.”
An 18-month investigation by the organization into the dramatic rise in elephant poaching by “Somalian gangs” concluded that almost half of all funding for Shabab’s terrorist activities was derived from elephant poaching in Kenya. Investigations have uncovered a sophisticated network of poachers and brokers tied to Shabab; the terrorist group leverages its military arm to build contacts with international crime syndicates and illegal wildlife brokers in Asia. In fact, while it is difficult to trace illegal ivory as a commodity, ivory has been found in former strongholds of Shabab,
Elephant ivory sold on the black market is highly profitable. In 2012, ivory fetched as much as $7,000 a kilogram in China, depending on its quality. At those prices, elephant slaughter is an easy way for terrorist groups like Shabab to rake in the cash: the ivory from just five elephants is probably enough to fund an attack of the sort we saw in Nairobi.
As aptly put by the Elephant Action League, the “deadly path of conflict ivory starts with the slaughter of innocent animals and ends in the slaughter of innocent people.”
The killing of 91 elephants and numerous other creatures by cyanide poisoning of their waterhole in Zimbabwe recently is probably the work of other paramilitary groups troubling Africa. But even if they won’t lift a finger over the cruelty of halal slaughtering surely the animal rights activists will make an effort for Dumbo and his mum?Â