On 5 April, KYC 360 reported that Islamic State is using ivory smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife, sugar and diamonds to finance its expansion in Africa, according to a new report from the Counter Extremism Project. The report says that illegal wildlife trafficking has continued during the pandemic despite increasing international awareness of the threat posed by zoonotic diseases which may originate in the illicit transfer of animal products; and groups such as Al Shabaab and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah exploit the illegal wildlife trade to pay their soldiers and fund their campaigns of violence, while causing huge damage to precarious populations of elephant, rhino and pangolin. Conflicts in Central Africa nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic are fuelled by the illegal expropriation and smuggling of environmental resources, including diamonds and wildlife. These illicit goods are commonly routed through East Africa on their way to international markets. Asian crime syndicates target East Africa to import illicit animal products and export narcotics and counterfeit goods. Their penetration of the region has been greatly enabled by the rise of digital technologies and the absence of any meaningful digital security infrastructure, and organised crime groups from South America, West Africa and Europe also use the region as an important staging post for international drug trafficking. Rising addiction rates suggest the region is fast becoming a destination market for illegal narcotics.
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