Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Terrorism Funded by BBQ Charcoal Smuggling

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Alan Cole OBE of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is speaking on "The ‘southern route’ and Indian ocean maritime crime". UNODC is looking for interns to work in the UNODC Maritime Crime Programme.

After discussing how the UN helped with the legal issues of warships dealing with piracy in the Indian Ocean. The UN has arranged for countries in the region to set up courts and prisons to accept those arrested for piracy.

Dr. Cole went on to the largely unsolved problem of interdicting drug trafficking outside territorial waters. While piracy is covered by international law, drug smuggling is under national jurisdiction and so difficult to deal with on the high seas.

Dr. Cole then made the surprising point that charcoal is being smuggled to fund Al Shabaab. Apart from the difficulty of finding a legal way to board ships and deal with people apprehended with something as harmless as charcoal, there is the issue of how to dispose of the seized cargo. In the case of charcoal it cannot be simply tipped overboard, as there could be hundreds of tons, which will float and be a pollutant. Reselling the contraband creates a risk of corruption and disrupting local markets. One option I suggest might be to turn the charcoal into briquettes or to burn it in the nearest coal fired power station or furnace. 

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