A gunman carries a rifle in the Beirut neighborhood of Qasqas, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Lebanon's fragile stability might deter investment, but the fear associated with the rising number of refugees and the presence of militants along the country's fraying borders has bolstered the business of arms dealing.Demand for Abu Youssef's weapons peaked after the Aug. 2-6 clashes in Arsal, when militants affiliated with ISIS and the Nusra Front overran the northeast border town and captured 30 servicemen.Particularly in high demand are light-weight hand-held weapons, such as handguns, grenades and PKC machine guns. Abu Youssef also takes requests for larger weapons, such as RPGs. One month after the August clashes, he sold 80 rifles, 70 machine guns, six PKCs and several grenades. Before that time, on average, Youssef would sell one or two guns a month at best."A little bit from Tripoli, a little bit from the southern suburbs," was all he was willing to say.He learned the tricks of the trade from his father, an arms dealer who supported the Lebanese Forces during Lebanon's 15-year Civil War. Abu Youssef was raised around weapons, there was always one lying around somewhere in the house, he recalls. The arms dealer is careful with client transactions.Abu Youssef has been caught dealing arms on two occasions but only detained temporarily.Both times Abu Youssef was caught because he sold weapons that the authorities considered crossing the line.
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