Rhinos fund terrorists

Bangladesh-based terror networks are being financed by poaching and trade in endangered species

Cross-border smuggling rackets—from cough syrup to narcotics and arms—have long helped finance the sundry terrorists and armed ‘rebel’ groups in India’s North East. The illegal economy and lawlessness reinforce each other and form a self-sustaining vicious cycle. Little wonder that Bangladeshi jihadi groups with links to Pakistan and al-Qaeda have gotten in on the act (via Neelakantan).

According to India’s security services, police, intelligence analysts, local traders and forestry officials, Islamic militants affiliated to al-Qaida are sponsoring poaching in the reserve for profit. These groups have established bases in the formerly moderate enclave of Bangladesh and have agents operating all along the country’s porous 2,500-mile border with India. They have gone into business with local animal trappers and organised crime syndicates around Kaziranga – as well as in parks and reserves in Nepal, Burma and Thailand – in a quest for horns, ivory, pelts and other animal products with which to raise “under the wire” funds that they can move around the world invisibly.

From whom do they take orders? The villagers look stony-faced. They talk among themselves. “The Tibetans and Chinese are big men in this,” says one, “but we are all from Bangladesh. Bangladeshis dominate the network now.”

Eventually we ask who’s behind the Bangladeshi business. “Where, not who,” he says and points to Bangladesh. “Religious men hold the purse strings now. The business has changed. Their agents came to see us. They want a low-risk business.” [The Guardian]

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