The secret drug culture fuelling Australia's most dangerous threat.

Wherever in the world they’re based, we know Islamic State terrorists are filled with hate. No one who is at peace with the world suddenly turns into a violent killing machine.

We hear lots of talk about ‘jihad’, the so-called ‘just war’ that justifies the fight against enemies of Islam.

What is less discussed is the chemical courage being used to fuel the fiery mania.

In May, a huge shipment of Captagon, which has become known as the ‘jihad drug’, was seized by French authorities. Another haul was found in February. The drugs were hidden in industrial steel moldings and destined for Saudi Arabia, via the Czech Republic and Turkey.

Captagon is an amphetamine-based drug, which triggers a state of euphoria and surge of energy. The drug was originally produced in the West in the 1960s but was later banned in most countries because of its addictive nature. Islamic State terrorists have repeatedly spoken about taking the hallucinogenic pills.

As terrorism steps up around the globe, perhaps unsurprisingly, the demand for substances is also increasing. Fighters take the drug before going into battle – whatever that battle looks like and wherever it may be. In Holland the first laboratory was found in April.

The Manchester suicide bomber was found to be a persistent drug taker. Piecing all of this together, when I read that it added a new layer of comprehension to what’s going on. Not that it makes any of it any better. The connection between drugs and violence is undeniable.


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The gunmen in Paris last November had used the pills, which may explain why an onlooker described them as having “zombie-like” focus at the time of the attack. One former veteran of the Syrian war told New York Magazine, “Some people take so much, if you shoot them, they won’t drop.”

It has been reported that ISIS has made millions dealing the drug taken to prepare fighters for violence. Clear facts around the connection are murky but the cycle would suggest that these funds could be used to purchase weapons and finance more attacks.

Captagon masks feelings of pain, fear, hunger, and makes people feel that  they have invincible super-human strength.

Have you ever watched footage of ISIS fighters or struggled to comprehend the hate driving humans to commit such acts of horror and murderous rampage? Keep in mind these are people wired up to the eyeballs. Again, not that it makes any of this any better.

Chemicals numb their human feelings and turn them into monsters.

The UN office on drugs and crime (UNDOC) said former fighters have testified to the use of Captagon in the Syrian conflict, making a brutal civil war even more atrocious.


The Washington Post says Captagon is “fuelling Syria’s war and turning fighters into superhuman soldiers.”

Using drugs in war is not new. In the Vietnam War US marines were given amphetamines by the US government to combat tiredness. According to medical records, Hitler’s doctor supplied him with cocaine.

Violent visions breed in drugs.

In July, two 18-year-olds appeared in court after counter-terrorism police raids in Sydney’s southwest. Often, hand in hand with weapons come drugs.

Captagon is highly addictive which, of course, raises important questions regarding to Australians who have served with terrorist groups overseas.

In July, it was reported more Australian Federal Police will be stationed offshore at key hot spots to tackle terror, cyber crime and drugs at its source. There is a push to intercept the flow of drugs and terror networks before they reach Australia. Keeping dangerous drugs away from our shores is a crucial part of counter terrorism strategy. To keep our focus purely on the Australian home front without escalating efforts offshore is a losing battle.

Nothing makes terrorism any less atrocious, but perhaps some understanding can change your perspective on what makes human beings turn into something utterly un-relatable.