Kurdish forces in Syria found cocaine in the home of a slain ISIS commander, sparking further rumors that militants are using narcotics to cope with the effects of battle.
ISIS leader Emir Abu Zahra was killed during a recent gun fight with the Kurds. They later uncovered a bag of white powder with about $500,000 in street value, but couldn’t confirm the substance until a small amount was tasted by Vice News journalist Joakim Medin. He explained that he was ”familiar with the taste of the drug…The other guys have no knowledge of this drug or how people use it. It is nothing they have heard of or encountered before."
The amount of cocaine in the bag has fueled ongoing rumors was giving the drug to ISIS fighters to help ease their minds from U.S.-led coalition aerial bombings. Although ISIS formally prevents its fighters from using drugs, several former fighters have reported being given illegal substances in order to create more courage to carry out suicide attacks. A 15-year-old alleged that he was given an anti-anxiety medication before being handed a suicide belt and sent to battle, while Kurdish fighters have reported seeing “drug-crazed” ISIS militants in battle.
“This could be the first confirmed and concrete evidence of drug use among ISIS fighters,” wrote Medin. “[It’s] a double standard of men who preach fundamentalism, yet they are getting high as they commit massacres."
Non-militants caught using drugs have received extremely brutal punishments. One man reported being punished for smoking by having all of his fingers broken with a set of pliers, while a separate ISIS propaganda video showed militants whipping three Syrian drug users.
The Middle East remains one of the worst places in the world to be caught possessing or smuggling drugs. The Human Rights Watch reported that 24 people were beheaded for smuggling drugs between January and November of last year.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has said that he remains committed to stamping out drug use in Saudi Arabia by any means due to “their great harm to individuals and the society.” But since Saudi Arabia does not have a civil penal code that sets out sentencing rules or a way of predicting sentencing based on past outcomes, it often leaves smugglers at the mercy of a judge’s discretion.
By McCarton Ackerman 01/09/15
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