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New Report Debunks Link Between Al-Shabaab And Ivory Trade

Storyline:National News

There is little evidence to suggest Al-Shabaab extremists are heavily involved in the illegal ivory trade, contrary to some widely circulated assertions that the Somalia-based group receives significant profits from elephant poaching, according to a new report.
Allegations that Al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaida, is a major player in East African ivory trafficking makes for a potent but misleading narrative that risks diverting attention from organized crime groups that direct the trade with the help of corrupt officials, said the authors of the report by the Royal United Services Institute.
“It is here that our attention and scarce resources must be focused if we are to see greater success in tackling this highly damaging trade,” co-author Cathy Haenlein wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday.
The report by the London-based institute, which focuses on defense and security issues, was based partly on interviews with experts on Al-Shabaab and wildlife trafficking as well as research in Nairobi and northern Kenya, near the border with Somalia.
The assertion of a close link between Al-Shabaab and ivory poaching has been made by some journalists, conservation groups and government officials, including U.S. trade representatives and former President Bill Clinton.
In 2014, Oscar-winning film director Kathryn Bigelow released a short animated film called “Last Days” that alleged Al-Shabaab makes $600,000 a month from ivory trafficking.