The Tiny Pill Fueling Syria’s War and Turning Fighters Into Superhuman Soldiers
The Washington Post
November 19, 2015
As The Washington Post’s Liz Sly recently noted, the war in Syria has become a tangled web of conflict dominated by “al-Qaida veterans, hardened Iraqi insurgents, Arab jihadist ideologues and Western volunteers.”
On the surface, those competing actors are fueled by an overlapping mixture of ideologies and political agendas.
Just below it, experts suspect, they’re powered by something else: Captagon.
A tiny, highly addictive pill produced in Syria and now 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.