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The world’s largest drug field was formerly in the Bekaa Valley where the land is warm and moist. Reflecting the poor state of agriculture in the Muslim world, some of the most arable land in Lebanon where the Romans raised acres of wheat was turned over to cannabis and opium production. In the ’90s the situation was so bad that 80 percent of the world’s cannabis came out of the valley. The valley helped finance the PLO, Hezbollah and the Syrian army which invaded Lebanon partly to get in on the drug trade.
The Clinton Administration cut deals with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Syrian occupation of Lebanon to try and cut down on production. Officially production went down, unofficially the party never really stopped.
With the Syrians gone and the PLO living off American foreign aid on the West Bank of Israel, the lucrative Lebanese drug trade is in the hands of the Shiite Islamists of Hezbollah. Drugs have turned the Party of Allah into a global narcoterrorist ring with tentacles in Latin America and ties to Marxist narcoterrorists there and up to America and out across Europe and Asia.
There is no contradiction between the Islamic identity of Hezbollah and its drug trade financed wealth. The Mumbai terrorists of the Army of the Righteous, who during their killing spree murdered a rabbi and his pregnant wife, snorted cocaine. The Beslan terrorists of the Islamic Brigade of Martyrs who murdered hundreds of children were running on heroin. Forensic tests conducted on the bodies of suicide bombers have found that they were routinely given heroin before being sent off on their missions. And if we had been able to run forensic tests on the Al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out September 11 there would probably be a miniature pharmacy in their bodies.
The intimate connection between drugs and Islam began with the prohibition of alcohol. The ban on wine and other spirits made the need for alternatives more urgent. Coffee was the safer alternative to alcohol, and the Middle Eastern obsession with it reflected the outlawing of wine and beer. Religiously coffee was also useful as a stimulant and came in handy in some Muslim rites. But there were more efficacious stimulants that could do more than coffee and those were equally popular.
While there were at times attempts to similarly prohibit drugs, they never achieved the same status as the ban on liquor. Hashish in particular had useful religious and military effects. The right drugs could give the devout the illusion of a mystical experience, allow them to stay up all night memorizing verses from the Koran or make it easier for them to kill and for Muslim leaders to control their private armies.
The Order of Assassins, whose name “Hashishin” derives from the substance they were addicted to, consisted of young men given the drug and told that their visions were a foretaste of paradise. While the Hashishin achieved legendary status the same pattern has become commonplace among Muslim terrorist groups who ply their followers with drugs to addict them and direct them along the path of Islamic terror as the road to the paradise of the powder and the needle.
Culturally the use of drugs is far more widely accepted in the Muslim world than alcohol is. The Ayatollah Khomeini even ruled that, “Wine and all other intoxicating beverages are impure, but opium and hashish are not.” In some countries drug use is so widespread that it has practically become a national identity. That is the case with Qat in Yemen, a plant-based amphetamine whose use is so widespread that its cultivation consumes nearly half the country’s water supply.
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