Captagon pills are displayed along with a cup containing cocaine at an office of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, Anti-Narcotics Division, in Beirut in 2010. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images/File)
It is not surprising that ISIS is resorting to powerful euphoric amphetamine drugs like Captagon. See The Washington Post article, “The tiny pill fueling Syria’s war and turning fighters into superhuman soldiers.” Note that the source of Captagon cited by WaPo is Syria:
A tiny, highly addictive pill produced in Syria and widely available across the Middle East, its illegal sale funnels hundreds of millions of dollars back into the war-torn country's black-market economy each year, likely giving militias access to new arms, fighters and the ability to keep the conflict boiling, according to the Guardian.
“Syria is a tremendous problem in that it’s a collapsed security sector, because of its porous borders, because of the presence of so many criminal elements and organized networks,” the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) regional representative, Masood Karimipour, told Voice of America. “There’s a great deal of trafficking being done of all sorts of illicit goods — guns, drugs, money, people. But what is being manufactured there and who is doing the manufacturing, that’s not something we have visibility into from a distance.”
A powerful amphetamine tablet based on the original synthetic drug known as "fenethylline," Captagon quickly produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing Syria's fighters to stay up for days, killing with a numb, reckless abandon.
Our New English Review interviews with noted biological warfare expert Dr. Jill Bellamy revealed the Assad regime’s extensive dual use pharmaceutical research and production facilities for development of Class A Pathogens, “The Dangers of Syria’s Bio-Warfare Complex Should Assad Fall (Jan. 2013.” Thus, it is possible that ISIS may have acquired quantities of the drug Captagon in stockpiles it has overrun in Syria. Whether, ISIS has also acquired the technical capabilities to produce the drug is another matter. Listen to Dr. Bellamy discuss ISIS’ CBW capabilities on the Sunday, November 22, Lisa Benson Show that airs at 3PM EST.
Note this Reuters report on the Syrian production and traffic in Captagon used by both Assad forces and ISIS:
According to a Reuters report published in 2014, the war has turned Syria into a "major" amphetamines producer -- and consumer.
"Syrian government forces and rebel groups each say the other uses Captagon to endure protracted engagements without sleep, while clinicians say ordinary Syrians are increasingly experimenting with the pills, which sell for between $5 and $20," Reuters reported.
Captagon has been around in the West since the 1960s, when it was given to people suffering from hyperactivity, narcolepsy and depression, according to the Reuters report. By the 1980s, according to Reuters, the drug's addictive power led most countries to ban its use.
The United State classified fenethylline ("commonly known by the trademark name Captagon") as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act in 1981, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service
Still, the drug didn't exactly disappear.
VOA notes that while Westerners have speculated that the drug is being used by Islamic State fighters, the biggest consumer has for years been Saudi Arabia. In 2010, a third of the world's supply — about seven tons — ended up in Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters. VOA estimated that as many as 40,000 to 50,000 Saudis go through drug treatment each year.
The use of Captagon in Syria has a precedent, the legendary origin of the word Assassin:
The word “assassin” derives from a secretive murder cult in the 11th and 12th centuries called the “Hashishin”, meaning “hashish eaters”. While much of the origin of this cult has been lost, the original leader was Hasan Ben Sabah, a prominent devotee of Isma’ili beliefs. Hasan’s group was a cult of the Isma’ili sect of Muslims.
The name itself is from a possibly fabricated tale (perhaps fabricated by enemies of the Hashishin, as a way to explain how Sabah got his followers to be willing to be sent to their deaths so readily) that Hasan would have men kidnapped and brought to his strong hold. There, they were drugged up with hashish and put into a hypnotic state. After this trance-like state was induced, the men were offered sensual pleasures- beautiful handmaidens and harem girls and made to believe they were in heaven.
When they came out of the trance, they were sent out on gangland-type missions. The men were told that if they attempted to kill prominent targets and things went sour, they would be given a quick return trip to paradise in order to make them fearless in their mission.
Beyond the legend, we know that this group of assassins had their main stronghold in Alamut (in northwestern Iran). At this stronghold, Sabah ran his secret society of assassins. The order itself had five levels, the Grand Headmaster (originally Sabah); Greater Propagandists; Propagandists; Rafiqs; and Lasiqs.
The lowest order of the group, the Lasiqs, were the ones trained as assassins. They were not just mindless people going around trying to kill people. They were athletic individuals, highly trained in combat and the art of disguise, and generally extremely well educated and intelligent so that they could seem in place even among the elite of society among various cultures.
Whether the amphetamine Captagon or Hashish, powerful drugs appear to bolster both ancient and contemporary Jihadis.
British paratroopers were given benzedrine to use after 24 hours continuous action at Arnhem but had to stop using it because it was leading to the outbreak of too many quarrels between themselves.