Captagon: The Jihadist’s Drug


By Michaela Whitton at


United Kingdom — Dubbed the “jihadist’s drug,” Captagon is rapidly flooding the Middle East and is said to be fueling the bloody conflict in Syria. French media recently reported that the Paris attackers may have taken the drug.

Last weekend, Turkish anti-narcotics police seized 11 million Captagon pills in a haul that weighed almost two tonnes. It was set to ship to Gulf countries. Widely banned since the mid-eighties, the pills provide a cheap and long-lasting high and are highly addictive. They also have the potential to cause psychosis and brain damage.

The production of the drug, which keeps fighters awake over long periods of time, is said to be providing income for all factions involved in the Syrian war.

During the last year, shipments of Captagon have been seized on the way to the West Bank, Jordan, Sudan, Syria and the Gulf. In October, Anti-Media reported on a Saudi prince who was arrested for trying to smuggle two tons of the drug onto a plane.

As Syria has been engulfed in war, smugglers of the little-known, highly addictive pills have been forced to find alternate routes through Lebanon.

Lebanese journalist Radwan Mortada has spent 10 years investigating crime, corruption, and the war in Syria. In her documentary for Journeyman Pictures, The Drug Fueling Conflict in Syria, Mortada follows the Captagon trail, from users on the battlefields to traffickers on Lebanese smuggling routes to the kingpins at the top of the supply chain.

“There was no fear anymore”

Since the Syrian war began, police in the region have continued to seize record-breaking numbers of the pills. Lebanon’s biggest haul to date was a whopping 50 million tablets with a street value of $300 million, weighing over 4 tonnes, en route to Dubai.

In Mortada’s documentary, men in Beirut are shown crushing the pills and chopping them into lines. They describe the effects as “better than cocaine” and “really strong and like morphine — for really strong pains.” Their experience points to why Captagon has become the drug of choice for some Syrian fighters.

“There was no fear anymore after I took Captagon,” one ex-fighter said.

“It stops you feeling anything, you know? It makes you numb, numb,” said another, who described the first time he took the drug as making him feel physically fit.

“If there were 10 people in front of you, you could catch them and kill them. You’re awake all the time,” he said.

Since 2013, Captagon smuggling in Lebanon has skyrocketed. The Syrian war has not only pushed smuggling through the country, but has allowed gangs to set up makeshift Captagon factories in the country itself.

Mortada’s documentary is the first time an illegal factory has ever been filmed. It shows the pills being packaged and disguised in packets of tissues. Factory workers reveal that they use vegetables, bread, and hair gel for smuggling in Lebanon’s home-grown Captagon trade.

Shia militant group Hezbollah—currently fighting in Syria for the Assad regime—has also been accused of being involved in the trade after two factories were discovered on its premises.

“Standing on their feet”

On the surface, Abu Zeus looks just like a wealthy businessman, but he has been funding Captagon factories for years. He fled Syria when the war began and now resides in Europe. It took Mortada months to persuade him to be interviewed.

Described as being at the top of the supply chain, Abu Zeus boasts on camera of a $6 million profit last year from trading the small pills. The Syrian brigades that have publicly named him as a benefactor number in the thousands, according to Mortada.

Opposed to both the regime and jihadist groups, Abu Zeus brags of keeping the secular groups in Syria “standing on their feet.’’ He boasts of ‘supporting’ around 12,000 armed men.

He claims the Saudis love the drug because of the country’s alcohol ban and admits that selling to them has made him a great deal of money. He’s adamant that his drug profits counter the money from Saudi Arabia that he believes is funding jihadist groups and destroying Syria:

“The truth is that the country that exports terrorism to the Middle East and the protector of terrorism is Saudi Arabia,” he said.

He continued: “The fight is not a revolution anymore, it is a fight between seculars and Salafists — a fight between countries.”

Going some way towards explaining why Captagon is tailor-made for the battlefield—and why some have come to rely on the drug after five years of fighting—another fighter described the drug’s effects. He was frank:

“You don’t have any problems. You don’t even thinking about sleeping or leaving the checkpoint. It gives you great courage and power,” he said.

This article (Captagon: The Jihadist’s Drug) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email [email protected].


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  1. A real moslim don’t take any drug or alcohol.

    So the ones who are taking this are real hypocrites.

    Respect your Koran hypocrites !!

    Same on you , a real shame in the face of your “Mohammed” and your “Allah” !!

    • How do you think Muhammad visited the heavens? He was HIGH.
      PS: this goes for every religion, they’re all same bullshit, don’t separate yours.

      • Being High sometimes is a nice feeling., but all of them fight for their Koran and Mohammed.
        For me religion is not important, I know religions may cause hate and wars. I believe my own thing. I respect religion , but they don’t have to force me to believe in something. I don’t believe in God or Statue, islam or mohammed. I believe in mother earth. And mother earth is crying about all the pollution and mis use of her dignity. When I have to choose one religion the best choice for me would be buddhism.

        • Right on! Mother Nature is the only thing that has proven itself to be very real in my experience and we all need to stop being selfish (piliging nature for our personal gains), stop blowing each other up over things most of us don’t inderstand, and start working together to make this world… Our home a better place for all creatures. I studied religion and almost all fundamentally state that we should be protecting all life on this planet….

          • Well said friend. Hope we can save gaya before the brainless and power hungry beasts will destroy her.

          • Mother Nature doesn’t care too much about what we do to the planet. When we all die off, the Earth will go on. Even after a total nuclear wipe of the planet, ecology will rebuild after a few million years. The only advantage to keeping our ecology alive and healthy is to US – without a healthy environment, we die. It seems like a simple concept, but somehow the corporations and governments can’t grasp it.

          • Buddhism is a belief system, just like all religions. It has aspects of it’s system that are based on faith as well as real world rules of conduct. Even atheism is a belief system, by virtue of it’s absence of faith. IMO, it doesn’t matter what you believe – if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, and makes the world a better place, go for it.

          • Atheism is not a belief system anymore than ‘bald’ is a hair style, or ‘barefoot’ is a kind of shoe.

        • lol 99% of ISIS killing are not soldiers not politiciers and not criminals, only poor ppl who look to feed their children. the realmuslims

    • I love how muslims still think they are “Respectful people who don’t ever do anything bad.Dont drink and dont do drugs”.even though that’s lies i am not gonna go deep so i don’t i get fucking 12 year old’s trying to prove me wrong.So listen there is no such a thing as a “REAL MUSLIM” you are all the same thing.Now i see why a lot of people are transsfering religions.BECOUSE ITS FULL OF BULLSHIT.So many of my muslim and arab friends told me about how they are tortured to bellive something completely that people are allowed to behade them if they change religion.LIKE WTF DO U THINK U ARE.I hope this goes trough your’e brain washed head.Think twice before u speak

      • Your generalization shows a strong racist sentiment. You do realize that the Muslim world population is somewhere around two billion. The number of ISIS members is generally thought to be somewhere between 20,000 – 30,000. Taking these numbers and doing simple math would give you percentage rate of ~.01% Your lumping all Muslims together is the same thinking that D. Trump uses to incite hate in his supporters. The vast majority of Muslim people do not support ISIS. It’s very simple math. And your spelling looks like lackadaisical careless blurting of word salad. Boil down to the logic, and throw out the emotional rhetoric. How much US made propaganda has shaped your opinion?

        • Then if most don’t support ISIS why don’t they publicly come out and say it? Never heard a single word from any Muslim condemning ISIS! NEVER!!

    • They should be feeling ashamed. What’s that got to do with Mohammed or Allah feeling ashamed. Please speak responsibly.

  2. Wow! A Saudi prince was arrested trying to sneak two tons onto a plane, huh? He must have had a good hiding place to carry all that!!!! Must be pretty damn strong too!!!! Gotta love the lack of proofreading & editing in “news” articles these days!

  3. This other article seems to think it’s no stronger than taking an Adderall and Drinking a coffee. My personal experience mixing uppers and downers is that you get a disproportionately stronger effect than either drug should cause on it’s own so maybe It’s wrong. It does at least serve as a usefull counterpoint to this article.

  4. This tablets seem to be the same drug taken by the Waffen – SS soldiers the firsts days of the Battle for the Bulge, and other battles. Also used in WWI, first produced in Amsterdam on the former Hell’s Angels property a few years ago in WWI. In WWII the germans did refine it.
    Indeed they could fight 3 day’s without sleeping. The degradation begins after those 3 days, another dose will do some day’s more. They became “tweekers”.
    They named it “Hitlers Cocktail” based on strong Amfetamines.
    Indeed , after taking those drugs you feel invincible, strong, and no need for sleep, not hungry at all.
    Brain use potential from 10% to 60% and more.
    Dangerous drug.

  5. The only safe drugs available to people in the middle east are khat, coffee, and hashish. Those who are taking captagon, alcohol, and shisha are fools…

  6. 75% of ISIS oil sold to IL so dont tell me these buncha of garbaages havin bers and sayin allahoakbar are muslims :D, check who benefit this and time will reveale more.


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