The al-Shabaab terrorist group is gearing up for its next jihad, but this time around they’re looking to take on single-use plastic bags. The group recently announced their war on plastics via their radio station Radio Andalus. In the same message, al-Shabaab also announced that henceforth the logging of rare trees was illegal.
Jubaland regional leader Mohammad Abu Abdullah argued that plastic bags posed a grave threat to livestock and humans alike and was damaging the environment. The AK-47 and RPG-toting militants, who are active in Somalia, have long been interested in protecting the environment. Al-Shabaab has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities over the last few years but still holds large rural areas. Previously, al-Shabaab even criticized Barack Obama for not doing enough to stop global warming.
In Islam, the concept of jihad can refer to both external enemies (i.e. the United States) and personal struggles, such as reducing your use of single use plastics. This isn’t the first time a terrorist group has taken on an eco-friendly persona. Last year, the Taliban in Afghanistan urged Afghanis to plant more trees, citing their important role in protecting the environment, promoting economic development, and making the world a more beautiful place.
I don’t always agree with radical Islamic terrorist groups—in fact, this might be the first time that I do—but single-use plastics are a grave threat to the environment. Environmental damage is harming communities around the world, and causing the rapid degradation of our waterways and other environments. Roughly 160 million tons of single-use plastics are produced per year, with millions of tons flowing into our oceans and other environments.
When the environment is damaged today, someone is going to have to pay for it later on. That payment might simply be lost environments and animal species. Or it could be costly clean-up projects. Regardless, it’s unfair for today’s generations to push off the costs of our consumption onto future generations.