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The Captagon Threat A Profile of Illicit Trade, Consumption, and Regional Realities

The Captagon Threat A Profile of Illicit Trade, Consumption, and Regional Realities By Caroline Rose and Alexander Söderholm

Opinion – Assad’s drug empire is funding Iranian-backed militias and fueling Hamas By Josh Rogin: “After the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel, several Hamas militants were reportedly found to be high on the illegal drug Captagon, which surely fueled their murderous rampage. But the drug’s threat is greater than the boost it gives terrorists. The Captagon trade has become a key tool of influence for the Syrian regime and a massive source of income for the Iranian-backed militias now attacking U.S. troops. Captagon, the highly addictive methlike drug, typically comes in small white pills exported by the millions across the Middle East and beyond. Its manufacturing is directly linked to the Syrian armed forces and the family of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In addition to being a dictator, war criminal and mass murderer, Assad can now add the title of drug kingpin to his résumé. Exporting these drugs worldwide earns him several billion dollars a year. To get Captagon, named after a former brand of fenethylline, into Europe, the Syrian regime built a distribution network that includes cooperation with Lebanese Hezbollah and the Italian mafia. What’s worse, the Captagon scourge has Arab gulf states so rattled, they are speedily normalizing relations with Assad in hopes he will cut off export to their countries. So far, Assad has used that leverage while only expanding these exports. And the middlemen who transfer the drugs to gulf states are the same Iranian-backed militias that have attacked U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria dozens of times since the Israel-Gaza war began. These attacks on U.S. bases by armed drones and missiles have injured at least 56 American troops, according to the Pentagon.

This is just a continuation of drugs fueling terror,” Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told me. “Captagon is supporting terrorism financially, providing the money to expand the reach of terrorists and also fueling the terrorists themselves to go out and commit brutal atrocities like we witnessed in Israel.” Israeli officials have repeatedly confiscated large Captagon shipments heading into Gaza. Iranian-supported militias operating in Syria and Iraq play a key role, because they control Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan. They are using the profits from reselling the drugs to purchase weapons and expand their territory. Assad’s cut helps keep him in power and insulates him from international sanctions…”

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