A new study reveals Hezbollah is generating millions of dollars in “Islamic-sanctioned” funds by manufacturing fake medicine.
According to Dr. Boaz Ganor and Miri Halperin, who conducted the study, Hezbollah has moved away from trafficking hard drugs, which contradict Islamic “principles,” and have moved into making a counterfeit form of Captagon, a drug used for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Although Captagon was banned in most countries in the 1980s, it is a commonly used – and abused – drug in the Middle East. Hezbollah substitutes a cheaper amphetamine instead of Captagon’s normal active ingredient fenethylline in the counterfeit version
YnetNews.com reports that Ganor estimates that profits from the drug’s sales are “anywhere between 10 million to hundreds of millions of dollars a year."
Over the past year, a number of drug laboratories were uncovered in various mosques in Baalbeck and the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. Ganor says that the discovery of the drug smuggling ring stems from infighting between Hezbollah terrorists in different regions of Lebanon .
According to Ynet, Ganor explained the discover as follows: "It appears that after the second Lebanon war [with Israel], tensions between Hezbollah's leadership in the Bekaa Valley and the group's leadership in southern Lebanon increased," he said.
"Hezbollah leaders in the Bekaa Valley gathered their strength while southern Lebanon was in war with Israel. In their attempt to gain political and financial power, Bekaa Valley leaders began manufacturing and distributing Captagon pills."
"Work began under a religious fatwa made by Sheikh Mohamed Yazbek, a member of Hezbollah's highest Shura Council. Yazbek’s fatwa legalized the manufacture and sale of Captagon pills on the condition that they were not consumed by Shiite believers," Ganor said.
Ganor suggested that the conflict between Hezbollah's leaders was the impetus for the tip that led to the uncovering of the drug network in the Bekaa Valley. The tip included names, locations of labs and smuggling routes.
Ynet also reports that major counterfeiters of medicine have recently been arrested in Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. Ganor adds, "Our study shows that the origin of the counterfeit medicine ring is in Lebanon. From there, the Captagon drug is smuggled to Eastern Europe and the Middle East."
Statistics from the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime show that over 23.6 tons of fake Captagon were seized in the Middle East in 2009 alone.
It is possible that the move away from trafficking hard drug to counterfeit drugs could be due to religious reasons, according to Ganor .
"As an Islamic organization, drug trafficking is problematic," Ganor said. "Firstly, the issue of drugs contradicts Islam's religious commands. Throughout the years, Hezbollah has solved this problem by claiming that the drugs were not intended for internal use but rather for exporting purposes. Thus, the drugs would only hurt the 'infidels.' However, the fact that Islamic believers are still involved in the operation is problematic," he added.
"For Hezbollah, counterfeit medicine solves this religious issue," Ganor said.
But Ganor also said that the move to counterfeit medicine could also be for purely financial reasons as Ganor notes that Hezbollah is still heavily involved in drug trafficking in Europe, Latin America and Africa.