(Photo credit: Reuters)
As Lebanon continues to experience a severe economic meltdown, a new report by Al Jazeera says that in the northern city of Tripoli, many young men have made the choice to flee to Iraq in order to join the ranks of ISIS.
Dozens of young men in Tripoli who have disappeared over recent months are suspected of joining the Takfiri armed group active across the border, according to security officials and local residents.
Once hailed as Lebanon’s industrial hub, over recent years, Tripoli has become the most impoverished city along the Mediterranean coast. Even before the start of the economic crisis, the city’s poverty rate stood at almost 60 percent, with thousands of families unable to afford basic needs.
But the families of those who have left say that it is not just the economic situation that has driven many into desperation, but also an ongoing security crackdown in the port city which for years has been considered a hotbed of extremism.
In 2014, intense clashes broke out in Tripoli between rebel groups and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). Since then, authorities have continued to crackdown on those suspected of belonging to armed groups.
According to those who spoke with Al Jazeera, several of the young men who have disappeared in recent months received warnings that security forces were looking to interrogate them before leaving.
An anonymous security source has also revealed that officials are interrogating a Lebanese man allegedly involved in recruiting young men from Tripoli to join ISIS.
The interrogation has so far revealed that the young men are mainly being lured with work opportunities and promises of money.
“Some were promised salaries of up to $2,000, while others were told they could get employment for around $700 upon their arrival and joining ISIS,” the security source said.
ISIS has seen a resurgence in Iraq and Syria over recent months, most apparent during their week-long assault on Ghweran prison in northern Syria.
Reports coming from the US-controlled region also allege that forces from Washington have been instrumental in reviving the armed group, with the aim of continuing their occupation of Iraq and Syria.