Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Lebanon’s Hashish Valley Arms Against ISIS

Reporting from Lebanon’s hashish heartland of the Bekaa Valley on Jan. 5, Public Radio International spoke to cannabis farmers who say they are ready to resist any ISIS incursion into their fastness. Ali Nasri Shamas, who runs a mechanized hashish factory in Bouday village, took up arms in 2007 to resist Lebanese government eradication forces. This paid off; the army hasn’t been back since 2012. But now the Lebanese army and hash producers are confronting the same enemy. Although officially a wanted man for 35 years now, Shamas happily talked on-camera, alongside a three-ton yield of hash, flanked by masked employees, amid the clatter of processing machines.

“This is for ISIS and Nusra Front,” Shamas said, proudly brandishing a two-foot machete. (Nusra is Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate.) Shamas’ arsenal also includes AK-47s, mounted machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. The hashish lords warily note that ISIS has been zealously eradicating the cannabis fields of northern Syria—and, we can imagine, dealing more ruthlessly with any resistance than the Lebanese army could aspire to at their worst.

Shamas’ factory is just 30 minutes from the Syrian border, and ISIS has already made incursions into the Bekaa Valley. When ISIS fighters attacked a village between Bouday and the Syrian border in October, cannabis farmers joined in to defend it. These guys are experienced fighters themselves, veterans of Lebanon’s own 15-year civil war. And unlike Lebanon’s well-established militias, the cannabis farmers aren’t aligned with any sect or political party. Shamas told PRI his fight is no longer just about protecting his hashish business. “We support every village in Lebanon,” he said. “Christian, Sunni, Shia—whatever they are, we’ll defend them against these terrorists.”

They may soon get their chance to again test their mettle against ISIS. Reuters reported Jan. 3 that ISIS militants holed up in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Syrian-Lebanese border are seeking to gain control of nearby villages on the Lebanese side. Lebanon’s top security official, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, said his forces are on high alert to resist any ISIS advance.

Of course Lebanon’s official security forces are in something of a pickle, now that they find themselves in a de facto alliance with the hashish lords. Lebanon’s drug czar, Col. Chassan Chamseddine, equivocated on the question to Australia’s SBS network: “I think they’re using Islamic State militants as an excuse to justify having weapons but the real reason is to protect their hashish. But of course if there’s any assault from outside of Lebanon into Lebanon they may use their weapons to help the army. But the Lebanese army has the official duty to defend the people.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


HT Newsletter

Subscribe for exclusive access to deals, free giveaways and more!

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.


You May Also Like


While America’s attention is rightly focused on white supremacists and our president’s steadfast refusal to denounce them, over in the Middle East, ISIS is...


ISIS’s years-long rampage across the Middle East has been fueled by two things (in addition to a massive power vacuum, various nations’ opportunism and...


Tom Nichols is a national security expert. He’s a professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, an author currently out...


Bereft of easy cash from the sale of oil, to which the world remains hopelessly addicted, the black-clad international bogeymen at the Islamic State...


Fighters loyal to ISIS have seized substantial territory in Afghanistan, according to an ominous Reuters report from June 29. Witnesses who fled fighting in Nangarhar province...


Granted, some of the sources have axes to grind, but claims are mounting that the ultra-puritanical ISIS are stoned out of their minds on...


We recently noted that the ultra-puritanical ISIS has been burning the cannabis fields in the territory it controls in northern Syria—and that the cannabis farmers...


While ISIS has sparked global outrage with its beheading of journalists (and less global outrage for its beheading of captive Kurdish and Syrian fighters), US ally Saudi Arabia...

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!