Next up in recap lists, we recount the strange, the weird, the wacky, the bizarre… the headlines that elicited either a dumbfounded head shake, an eye roll or an amused chuckle. Here are the most unusual news stories of the year.

1. Sheikh al-Assir Goes Skiing

Female supporters of Ahmad al-Assir engaging in a snowball fight. (Photo via Reuters)

Assir has already graced another one of our recap lists but he wins his spot in this one for his little ski trip to Faraya in January. The trip was inevitably politicized after several residents of the area tried to block Assir's convoy, which contained about 500 of his supporters. Assir was accused by some of staging a political show and trying to stir sectarian tensions in a mostly Christian area. The road was reopened after a two-hour protest and Assir was able to make his way to the slopes. Pictures of him and his partisans playing in the snow quickly went viral.

2. The Return of The Locusts

(Photo via the Daily Star)

In what can only be described as a news story of biblical proportions, farmers across Lebanon were shocked in March when they awoke to find swarms of locusts invading their gardens and crops. The Ministry of Agriculture attributed the phenomena to rapidly rising temperatures, and appealed for the population to remain calm. The locusts disappeared soon enough, but in a country as dedicated to religious symbols as Lebanon, we're surprised more people weren't running for the hills.

3. Lebanese Politicians Fight a Rhino

(Photo via

In April, An Nahar reported that caretaker State Minister Marwan Kheireddine had "saved" caretaker Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui from a rhinoceros attack while on a hunting trip in Africa. According to the report, Sehnaoui rested on the rhinoceros, which he "mistook for a rock." The animal attacked, and Kheireddine fought it off with a stick. Yeah.

4. Crocodile Spotted in Beirut River

(Photo via Aljoumhouria)

A story surfaced in July that a crocodile had been spotted in the Beirut River. Al Joumhouria was the first to report on it, saying the animal was a Nile River crocodile, the second largest reptile in the world after the saltwater crocodile. Officials said they found no sign of the creature, but it was reportedly seen by several witnesses and photographed by some news outlets like The Daily Star. And, of course, it spawned a whole lotta crocodile jokes on Twitter, and one on this very website.

5. Sex Enthusiast Banned From Entering Lebanon

(Photo via Msn)

Ania Lisewska is a woman with a mission: to have sex with 100,000 men from around the world. The 21-year-old Pole came to prominence in September when she made her plan public, claiming she was eyeing the Middle East as her next destination. Civil and religious groups in Lebanon immediately protested, calling her campaign immoral and at odds with the country's values. The National News Agency reported later that month that Lisewska had been barred from entering the country.

6. Fadel Shaker's Unlikely Comeback

(Photo via the Daily Star)

In December, pop star turned radical Islamist Fadel Shaker made an unexpected comeback with a song about… Jesus. Just in time for Christmas. Shaker had put a stop to his career in 2011 when he started following Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir (him again), growing his beard and publicly renouncing pop music as haram (forbidden), also taking on Assir's anti-Assad, anti-Hezbollah rhetoric. He has been on the run since reportedly taking part in the Saida clashes in June, making his sudden return in the news all the more out of place. His weird career move instantly became the butt of a few jokes on Twitter. Cue this gem of a tweet: "Fadel Shaker is the definition of Salafi Clause."

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