Never mind sleeping with the enemy. How about buying drugs from them?
Sunni Islamic State militants are getting high with a little help, but it’s not from their friends. Shiite Lebanese farmer from selling weed to their sworn enemies — because, well, that’s business. Lebanese Shiites typically support Syria’s Assad as a longtime regional ally, and the Islamic State, controlling territory in Syria and Iraq, are staunch enemies of the regime. Additionally, in Iraq, the Islamic State is fighting Iran-backed Shiite militias.
The Daily Beast spoke with farmers in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, supporters of the embattled Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, who claim sales are brisk. One source who spoke to the Daily Beast said he sold a ton of hash to Islamic State recruits just last month. According to Daily Beast contributor Jesse Rosenfeld, the exchange also included “some coke and pills.”
But the 50 year-old farmer once fought with Hezbollah, a Shiite Lebanese terror organization, against the Islamic State in Syria. And Islamic State jihadis beheaded one of his relatives in the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal, something the father of six vows to avenge.
The Lebanese military, preoccupied with defending the border from incursions by the Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, is unable to crackdown on the illicit industry. Traditional trade routes to Turkey and Jordan are obstructed, resulting in a plentiful harvest with few accessible markets. Demand from Islamic State militants is what keeps farms profitable.
Just last year, a video surfaced of ISIS fighters purportedly burning a cannabis field in Syria, with jihadis denouncing “the evils of drug-taking,” reports The Huffington Post. But it appears the rigor of Islamic law isn’t keeping all radicals from going to pot.
Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians oftentimes live side-by-side in the Lebanese valley. Syrian refugees are supposedly used to process the drug, and “Christian army officers smuggle it out,” according to a source who spoke to the Daily Beast.
Although most product winds up in Arab countries, the Daily Beast describes an intriguing scenario for how small amounts of weed are exchanged with Israelis. “It travels either via Jordan or in bags that are tossed over the closed border fence between Lebanon and northern Israel in exchange for bags of cash thrown back,” writes Rosenfeld.
This report, by Erica Wenig, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.