Semafor reports that some of the Hamas terrorists who attacked southern Israel last month had taken a synthetic amphetamine drug called fenethylline (brand named Captagon), "which U.S. and Israeli officials believe was used to suppress fear and anxiety during the rampage and stimulate their willingness to attack, kill and, in some cases, torture, civilians."
Officials confirmed reports that Israel Defense Forces soldiers found the pills on dead and captured Hamas members. Semafor says the drug is "mass-produced and trafficked throughout the Middle East and Europe by the Assad regime in Syria and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah."
Israel's government has been reluctant to highlight Hamas' use of Captagon due to fears it could diminish calls for the Palestinian organization to be held accountable for its crimes, and Israeli and U.S. officials had — until now — declined to confirm the early report on Israel's Channel 12 on Hamas' use of Captagon. Israeli officials have circulated videos and battle plans associated with Hamas' attack to underscore their premeditated nature. "It's the ideology" that should be focused on with Hamas, rather than the use of Captagon, an Israeli official told Semafor.
Fenethylline is a popular drug in Western Asia, and American media outlet CNN reported in 2015 that it is allegedly used by militant groups in Syria. Later research demonstrated that it was the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad that has been financing Captagon production and sponsoring networks of its drug dealers in coordination with the Syrian intelligence. It is manufactured locally by a cheap and simple process. In July 2019 in Lebanon, captagon was sold for $1.50 to $2.00 a pill. In 2021 in Syria, low-quality pills were sold locally for less than $1, while high-quality pills are increasingly smuggled abroad and may cost upwards of $14 each in Saudi Arabia.
According to some leaks, militant groups export the drug in exchange for weapons and cash. According to Abdelelah Mohammed Al-Sharif, secretary general of the National Committee for Narcotics Control and assistant director of Anti-Drug and Preventative Affairs, forty percent of users between the ages of twelve and twenty-two in Saudi Arabia are addicted to fenethylline.