Poverty in Lebanon heightens extremist appeal

By February 17, 2022

Lebanon (MNN) — As Lebanon collapses, scores of young people join the ranks of extremist groups. At least 48 young men disappeared from Tripoli in recent months. Families believe they’ve joined the Islamic State in nearby Iraq.

Associated Press reports that between 70 and 100 young men have disappeared from Tripoli, with a notable uptick tracing back to August. Five Lebanese were among the Islamic State militants killed by Iraq’s military in late January.

“One of the big factors with the crisis in Lebanon is a lot of people not feeling like they belong in this country anymore,” David* from the prayer ministry Cry Out Now says.

“It seems crazy that they would go to something like a terrorist organization, but I guess there’s a sense of belonging.”

Lebanon’s corrupt leaders and economic failure are the roots of instability and dissatisfaction. The GDP fell by $33 billion between 2018 and 2021. Today, poverty affects roughly 75-percent of the total population.

“Lebanon has been extremely divided for a very long time. [It has] always been very diverse; lots of different religious groups [with] different Christian sects and different Islamic sects,” David says, describing Lebanon’s complicated power-sharing structure.

“Their country works whenever the economy works. But whenever the economy does not work, everything falls apart.”

(Photo courtesy Uncharted Ministries)

Restoring the economy and getting money back into people’s hands won’t fix everything. Only Jesus can do that.

“Particularly Westerners, we sometimes feel that the answer to deal with poverty is to throw money at it,” David says.

“People can help organizations do aid relief or development work; okay, that’s one route. However, when it comes down to it, poverty is a spiritual battle.”

Some people escape poverty’s despair by joining terrorist groups. Others compromise their values when they see no other choice.

“Families are marrying off their teenage daughters because they can’t afford to look after them. These things happen because of poverty. It’s a spiritual battle, so we need to pray,” David says.

Use the prompts listed alongside this article to guide your intercession. Or, become a Cry Out prayer partner here. “Pray that God would help us as we disciple these people; that we can help them find hope in Jesus,” David requests.

“People are getting desperate. They aren’t finding the answers in their existing systems and structures. They’re desperate, and they’re searching.”





Header image is a 2015 photo depicting Islamic State fighters. (Wikipedia)

Help us get the word out: