By Oscar Pascual |
Fighters from 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 in war-torn Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.
But in a fertile valley in Lebanon, the cannabis trade sees no distinction of race or religion. He only sees green.
Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley is home to a large number of marijuana fields maintained by Shia farmers who bitterly deplore ISIS, yet sell them weed and hashish, reports the Daily Beast.
“Last month we sold a ton of hashish to ISIS,” a cannabis farmer named “Imad” said in an interview with the Daily Beast.
Imad sells to ISIS despite fighting them in Syria along with Hezbollah forces. As if that weren’t enough, he is also related to a Lebanese soldier who was captured and beheaded by jihadists.
Though he vehemently hates ISIS, 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, take the money and come back,” Imad said to the Beast.
In fact, while the war has changed the underground trade, cannabis production in the valley has increased, leading to a lot of weed that it can’t sell anywhere but to ISIS.
“We’ve had a good crop this season, but have a distribution problem,” a major hash exporter named “Abu Hussein” told The Beast.
Hussein says the entire cannabis trade in the region looks beyond racial and religious sects, as Bekaa’s hash is grown by Sunni, Shia and even Christian communities who are practically neighbours.
“Processing Syrian workers here [the hash] and Christian army officers smuggle it out,” Hussein told the Beast.
According to Ahmad Moussalli, a political science professor at the American University in Beirut, Bekaa’s cannabis trade is so important to the small population of farmers that it is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, whether ISIS buys it or not. movements.
“Hash has historically been one of the very important trading activities for Lebanon,” Moussalli told the Beast. “It will be important in the coming years, legally or illegally. ”
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