Northern Syria: It’s hard to imagine how the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, could get any worse. From beheading captured American journalists to orchestrating global terrorist acts in the Middle East and abroad, from destroying cities and ancient monuments to using innocent civilians as human shields, they’re pretty much the absolute worst.
And while it certainly isn’t as terrible as murder and torture, ISIS has found another way to create mayhem and spread anger and hatred: they’ve taken to burning cannabis fields in places they’ve captured.
The Islamic State militant group released a video on Tuesday (similar below) purporting to show its fighters burning down a marijuana field in a town it captured in north Syria
The video is enough to make any cannabis-lover cringe. Portraying a group of fighters who seem to be denouncing the evils of drug-taking before appearing to chop down bushes and setting them ablaze, the video appears to have been shot in the town of Akhtarin and uploaded to YouTube by an ISIS supporter.
The militants claim they discovered the farm after having captured Akhtarin from the Free Syrian Army, a rival group of opposition fighters in Syria, in recent weeks.
Thankfully, it seems that the farm’s owner was able to flee and escape into the bordering country of Turkey.
News about cannabis agriculture seems unlikely in a place so devastated and war-torn as Northern Syria, where in addition to the ISIS offensive, the Syrian government has been waging a civil war against its people. But growing cannabis is turning out to be a financial refuge amidst this horrifying time for the Syrian people.
Syria Deeply reported in July that some farmers in North Syria have turned to pot-growing in a desperate bid to make an income amidst Syria’s devastating civil war.
The farms and the cannabis they produce are in violation of the extremist Wahabi form of Islamic Law advocated by ISIS, and thus farmers and their land are under constant threat from Islamic State forces.
ISIS has imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria. Besides cannabis, they have also banned cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs.
A United Nations commission said on that the group’s systematic abuse of civilians, including public executions and training child fighters, may amount to crimes against humanity. And now, they’ve added crimes against cannabis to their list of atrocities.