ISIS terrorists bring demand for Western snacks, non-alcoholic beer

ISIS terrorists bring demand for Western snacks, non-alcoholic beer

Thousands of foreign fighters who have flocked to Syria want to create an austere Islamic state harking back to the past. But they have retained their taste for the modern-day snacks and gadgets of the western countries they disdain.

Locals are not only living in fear of these militants, who use brutal mass executions and beheadings to impose their rule, but they are also trying to find ways to survive an economic crisis provoked by three years of civil war. Many say that the best strategy is catering to the tastes of the fighters they loathe. …

Shops selling alcohol are closed, while junk food vendors, clothing stores – especially ones offering military-style apparel – and mobile phone shops make a modest profit. …

Many shopkeepers in Syria’s rural east had never heard of energy drinks like Red Bull before foreign Isis fighters arrived. Nor had vendors in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor ever dreamt of selling Snickers or Bounty – the favourite brands of chocolate bars for militants from Europe and the Gulf. …

Nassim, a shopkeeper who used a pseudonym for his safety [said] “Pringles and Snickers? Isis guys buy those by the box to share at the front.” …

Locals say Isis foreign fighters have a basic salary of at least $215 dollars a month – twice the average income civilians can hope to earn. On top of that are shares of war loot, a $3 daily food stipend, and frequent bonuses.

“They never even check prices,” says Saleh. “Money isn’t a concern for them.”

In eastern Syria, shops in areas where local residents carry battered Nokia phones are now stocking the latest smartphones. The town of Deir Ezzor is under siege by Syrian forces and is often bombed up to 20 times a day, but that has not stopped eager local traders from using the only river crossing to bring in Samsung Galaxies and iPhones.

“We even have the iPhone 6 in Deir Ezzor,” says a shopkeeper who asked not to be named. “The Isis guys, especially the ones from the Gulf, are obsessed with mobiles,” he adds. “Every time a model comes out, they trade in their old one and buy the newest thing. If they don’t bring a local [to the shop], you can add another 30 to 40 dollars. Maybe even more.”

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