October 21, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Killers in Israel Reportedly Fueled by Captagon

October 21, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Killers in Israel Reportedly Fueled by Captagon

Latest Developments

Israeli media reported on October 19 that Hamas terrorists were fueled by the amphetamine-like drug captagon as they rampaged through southern Israel on October 7. The pills were allegedly discovered inside the pockets of deceased terrorists, who used the illicit narcotic to remain calm and alert while attacking Israeli civilians. An Israeli social media account shared footage on X suggesting that the terrorists also traveled with cocaine “to fuel their satanic urge.” Under the influence, the terrorists could sustain their attack over an extended period of time and commit atrocities with a perverse sense of euphoria.

Expert Analysis

“The Syrian regime’s trafficking of billions of dollars’ worth of captagon has helped to spread violence across the region; Hamas terrorists’ reported use of the drug only adds to the carnage. Yet for now, the gravest threat to Israel is Hamas’ genocidal antisemitism.” — David Adesnik, Senior Fellow and Director of Research 

“The industrial-scale trade in captagon — for decades a drug widely used in war — has been a lucrative source of funds for the Assad regime and Hezbollah financiers. It makes sense that Hamas would want to use these drugs not only for war but as an additional source of funds.” — Matt Zweig, Senior Director of Policy at FDD Action

What Is Captagon?

Captagon was the brand name for a legal drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, and depression in the 1960s and 1970s. The substance became illegal in most countries, including the United States, in the 1980s. Today, counterfeit captagon production is concentrated in Syria and Lebanon, and serves as a primary source of revenue for the Bashar al-Assad regime. Multiple relatives of the Syrian dictator are involved in narcotrafficking operations. Regional seizure data valued the captagon trade at $5.7 billion in 2021.

Captagon is primarily trafficked from the Levant through Jordan to the Gulf. Increasingly, the trade is spilling beyond its traditional borders to Turkey and Iraq. Security forces have also intercepted large shipments of captagon in Italy, Greece, and Malaysia.

Captagon in Gaza

In January, Israeli security forces thwarted an attempt to smuggle thousands of captagon tablets from the West Bank into Gaza. Israeli guards at the Tarqumiyah border crossing found the pills concealed in a shipment of refrigerators.

Efforts in Washington

The U.S. State Department released a congressionally mandated interagency strategy in June to combat the Syrian narco-trade. The document charts four lines of effort aimed at “targeting, disrupting, and degrading” Assad-affiliated captagon networks.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned eight individuals involved in “the production or export” of captagon. Treasury’s designations included Bashar al-Assad’s cousins Samer Kamal al-Assad and Wassim Badi al-Assad.

Captagon: Assad’s Deadly Drug of Choice Expands to Israel,” by Natalie Ecanow

Washington’s Four-Point Plan to Take Down the Syrian Narco-Trade,” by Natalie Ecanow and Matthew Zweig

Under Pressure from Congress, Administration Sanctions Syrian Narco-Traffickers,” by David Adesnik


Arab Politics Gulf States Israel Israel at War Jordan Lebanon Palestinian Politics Syria