How Lebanese Hash Funds ISIS
By Oscar Pascual |
Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, or ISIL) are killing Shia Muslims, Christians and other “infidels” at an alarming rate, spreading fear and hatred throughout war-torn Syria, Iraq, and the Middle East.
But in a fertile valley in Lebanon, the weed trade sees no distinction in race or religion. It only sees green.
Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley is home to a multitude of marijuana fields tended by Shia farmers who bitterly deplore ISIS, but sell weed and hash to them nonetheless, reports the Daily Beast.
“Last month we sold one ton of hash to ISIS,” said a cannabis farmer going by the name “Imad,” in an interview with the Daily Beast.
Imad sells to ISIS despite fighting against them in Syria alongside Hezbollah forces. If that weren’t enough, he is also related to a Lebanese soldier who was captured and beheaded by Jihadists.
Although he hates ISIS vehemently, Imad sells to them out of necessity, as the Syrian war has blocked traditional trade routes to other markets.
“Before the war in Syria we would cross the mountains with 200 kilos [of hash] each, get the cash and come back,” Imad told the Beast.
While the war has altered underground trade, the valley’s cannabis production has actually increased, resulting in a whole lot of weed with nowhere to sell it except to ISIS.
“We had a good harvest this season but have a distribution problem,” said a major hash exporter going by the name of “Abu Hussein,” to the Beast.
Hussein says that the entire cannabis trade in the region sees beyond race and religious sects, as Bekaa’s hash is cultivated by Sunni, Shia, and even Christian communities that are practically neighbors with each other.
“Syrian workers here process [the hash] and Christian army officers smuggle it out,” Hussein told the Beast.
Bekaa’s cannabis trade is so vital to its small population of farmers that it likely won’t slow down any time soon, whether or not ISIS is buying it, according to Ahmad Moussalli, a political science professor at the American University in Beirut specializing in Islamist movements.
“Hash is one of the very important trades for Lebanon historically,” Moussalli told the Beast. “It will be important for years to come, either legally or illegally. ”
Photo credit: Wikipedia