Terrorists are using slaves to generate funding and attract recruits including domestic abusers and rapists, research has found.
A report published by think-tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) warned that modern slavery and sexual violence was fuelling Isis and other groups operating across Africa and the Middle East.
Nikita Malik, the report’s author and a senior research fellow, said the sectors are routinely treated separately by different global agencies but are increasingly interlinked.
“Terrorists are traffickers and traffickers are criminals, so it’s only natural that these groups will work together,” she added.
“Terrorists have an additional ideological motivation, releasing propaganda to justify the enslavement and rape of kuffar [disbelievers].
“As the groups begin to lose territory, they are gaining strongholds on trafficking routes that are being exploited.”
The findings come during a campaign by The Independent and Evening Standard against modern slavery, with an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 victims in the UK alone.
Research shows that terrorists use organise crime tactics like money laundering, migrant smuggling and drug and firearms trafficking, sometimes deliberately recruiting former gang members with relevant expertise.
The main hotspots include Libya, where Isis is among countless armed groups kidnapping, ransoming and forcing migrants into labour, with many later fleeing over the Mediterranean to Europe.
Niger and Nigeria are also key trafficking hubs, while in the Middle East Isis’ territories in Syria and Iraq are major hotspots.
Isis openly advertised the atrocity as part of its attempts to subjugate the minority, seeing the group issue fatwas and propaganda statements seeking to legitimise their enslavement.
The HJS report said that as well as dehumanising and punishing the Yazidis for not ascribing to Isis’ ideology, the genocide “served as an incentive for new recruits and foreign fighters, with the promise of wives and sex slaves acting as a ‘pull factor’”.
“Religious elements are infused into sexual violence practices to skirt around the moral wrongdoing of rape,” it added.
“Forced inseminations, forced pregnancies, and forced conversions are a means to secure ‘the next generation of jihadists’.”
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