January 27, 2014
End the terror of ivory trade
Terrorist organizations are turning to wildlife trafficking for money. It's a global problem.
Transnational criminal syndicates, terrorist organizations and Islamic extremists are increasingly turning to wildlife trafficking to bankroll their operations. Specifically, elephant and rhinoceros ivory accounts for an increasing share of the budget of Somali militant groups and al-Qaeda affiliates. So far, the White House and international agencies have failed to effectively address this emerging threat.
The United Nations has categorized trafficking in wildlife products as a "serious crime" in order to protect the animals that produce ivory. Nevertheless, their tusks are in demand throughout Africa, Asia and the West.
According to the Stimson Center, a respected Washington DC think tank, "the spike in poaching and wildlife crime coincides with the increased involvement of sophisticated transnational organized criminals and terrorist organizations." Al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda affiliate that carried out the recent attacks in Nairobi's Westgate Mall, now reportedly generates over 40% of its revenue from illicit ivory sales. Other groups, such as Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army and Darfur's Janjaweed, are also said to be turning to wildlife trafficking to bankroll their operations.