This idea has been floating around the internet for a while now–documents and reports, articles and social media posts–referring to the the ivory trade as a source of funding for terrorism. Al-Shabaab has allegedly been using the ivory trade to finance their terrorist organization, some reports claiming up to 40% of their operations.
This is a bandwagon that has proven easy to jump on. Prominent politicians like Hillary Clinton have come forward and claimed a distinct connection between terror and ivory. Articles have been written claiming that combating the ivory trade is an effective way to combat terrorism, hurting these organizations in their pockets. And who wouldn’t want to join a cause that helps elephants, a species that have been devastated time and time again for longer than the United States has even been a country?
But many of the facts and geography don’t quite line up. The evidence just isn’t there, at least not from credible sources.
If you read the originating reports, however, you can start to recognize the vague language and weak sources. They use a lot of phrases like, “it is not unreasonable that al-Shabaab…” or “could very well allow for al-Shabaab to…” Ambiguous language like this is always a good indicator of conjecture or guess-work. Their unnamed sources “pick up radio chatter” regarding the trade, with no specifics mentioned.