Officials from the US government and Israel Defense Forces have verified a previous allegation that claimed Hamas fighters were high on the fake stimulant Captagon when they attacked Israel on October 7. Captagon, also referred to as the “jihadi drug,” “Captain Courage,” and the “poor man’s cocaine,” is said to have contributed to a violent craze on that particular day. Are these charges an essential part of Hamas’s strategy or an effort to portray the organization as aggressive, drug-addled zombies?
According to Insider, the medication fenethylline hydrochloride, marketed under the brand name Captagon, was first developed in West Germany in the 1960s to treat ailments like narcolepsy, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Because of its “highly addictive nature,” the medication was eventually outlawed in the 1980s, according to the site. However, a “clandestine trade” in fake Captagon has thrived in the Middle East ever since. The substance has “particularly blossomed” in Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, and it is still very widespread throughout the area.
According to Reuters, the illegal form of the drug is a combination of “amphetamine and theophylline,” and it is occasionally laced with additional drugs including coffee and the analgesic paracetamol. Similar to other stimulants, captagon increases concentrate while warding off hunger and sleep. Both Islamic State militants and combatants in the Syrian Civil War continue to use the substance.
Syria has been regarded as a major producer and consumer of the substance since at least 2014. Sources tell Al Jazeera that the production and sale of the medication “have brought in billions of dollars” for President Bashar al-Assad and his cronies “as they looked for an economic lifeline,” despite Damascus’s insistence that the nation is not involved in the captagon trade. The drug’s continuous manufacture in Syria has alarmed both the United States and the United Kingdom, despite the fact that it is hardly known outside of the Middle East.
Did Hamas utilize the drug as fuel for the attack in Israel on October 7th?
A few weeks later, an article from the Israeli news agency Channel 12 made the initial claims that the Hamas fighters were high on Captagon during the Oct. 7 attack. According to the source, IDF soldiers found Captagon pills on the bodies of Hamas fighters who were slain in battle as well as on the persons of militants who had been seized. This first story appeared to be confirmed by two later reports from USA Today and Semafor, which cited anonymous IDF and US government officials.
USA Today was informed by two Israeli security officials that the material was discovered on “at least some Hamas members killed during or after the stunning raids on Israel.” The narcotic was discovered in the pockets of Hamas fighters in tablet, powder, and liquid form, according to the officials. Regarding the accusations, the Israeli military has not provided an official statement.
“Suppress fear and anxiety during the rampage and stimulate their willingness to attack, kill and, in some cases, torture, civilians,” according to Anonymous officials, was the purpose of the drug, Jay Solomon reported for Semafor. Solomon had the impression from watching Israeli government-compiled videos of the attack that “at least some of the militants were juiced up on drugs.” He thought that “some of the militants were chemically enhanced” based on the “length and ferocity of the assault.”
Some, however, took longer to accept the evidence. The Strategic Blind Spots Portfolio director at the New Lines Institute, Caroline Rose, expressed skepticism towards the allegations made in the stories on Captagon to Vice. It’s possible that some of the attackers used drugs, but accounts of Captagon causing “violent mania” are purely anecdotal and false. stated Rose. Although not much research has been done on the topic, Captagon “doesn’t seem to be inciting this kind of crazed behavior,” the speaker continued. The amphetamine-like tablet is comparable to other stimulants that were previously used to control appetite and keep soldiers focused and awake. Rose has monitored drug seizures in Gaza, but she maintained that no medication can “unlock” a person’s potential for violent actions. She came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support Hamas’ extensive usage of Captagon or that it affected their strategy for attacking.