Tag Archives: ISIS

Syria – the emerging narcopolis

Dr G Shreekumar Menon

In recent years, enforcement agencies in Greece, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and elsewhere have seized hundreds of millions of pills, of a drug called Captagon, most of them originating from one government-controlled port in Syria, some in hauls whose street value exceed more than $1 billion.

33 million Captagon pills were seized in Piraeus, Greece, on June 26, 2019. Italian law enforcement officers seized 14 tons of Captagon, about 84 million pills, at the port of Salerno in the year 2020,  hidden in huge rolls of paper and metal gears. 35 million Captagon pills were seized in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Feb. 13, 2020. Malaysia reported a seizure of 95 million Captagon pills seized at Port Klang, Malaysia, on March 24 2021, sealed inside rubber trolley wheels. It is estimated that around 250 million Captagon pills have been seized during 2020-21. These seizures might represent only a fraction of the drugs shipped, drug experts say. But they provide a window into the vast scope of the new drug trade, and the newest player in the market – Syria.

Captagon manufacture in Syria is a multibillion-dollar industry comprising workshops that manufacture the drugs, packaging industry that readies the contraband for export and a well-oiled smuggling network that extends its operations into different countries in West Asia, Europe and parts of South East Asia. Clandestine manufacture of Captagon is suspected in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, which is a hub of hashish production and a stronghold of Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militant group. Users in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries use it recreationally to get an energy boost, banish fear and as a party-drug for sexual stimulation.

While the pharmaceutical Captagon contains the Amphetamine – Fenethylline, the illicit version sold in the grey market is a mix of Amphetamines, Caffeine and various fillers. When the Syrian war broke out, smugglers sold the drug to fighters on all sides, who took it to bolster their courage in battle.

Simultaneously it also gained popularity as a preferred entertainment medication amongst upscale young people in the Middle East. This “brand-new age” Captagon, creates irreversible adjustments in brain circuitry that govern impulse control and also judgment, removing an individual’s capability to reason or believe reasonably.

Captagon was touted by the media as “The Amphetamine Fuelling Syria’s War” or “The Jihadists’ Drug”.  Captagon remains in the family of medications called amphetamines. These medications are human-made but are chemically associated with all-natural neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). When a person takes Captagon, their metabolic rate breaks the medication down to amphetamine itself, as well as to theophylline, a molecule that naturally takes place in percentages in tea which additionally has heart stimulating activity.

Amphetamine stimulates the central nerves, enhancing performance, enhancing focus as well as physical efficiency, and also offering a feeling of health, and not to really feel weary or hungry. But, three to six months of consumption of Captagon, reportedly destroys millions of brain cells.

Captagon pills and sex are closely related. Many traders promote Captagon pills as a powerful sexual stimulant that helps to reach heightened orgasm during intercourse. It helps not to feel tired so it prolongs the period of intimacy. In the sexual enslavement of thousands of Yazidi girls, Captagon was used extensively by the ISIS terrorists, to brutalise and violently rape young Yazidi girls.

Captagon’s reputation multiplied by leaps and bounds after media reports that it was responsible for fuelling the Syrian civil war by creating crazed super-soldiers who did not need to sleep for up to 48 hours, become violent, crazy, paranoid, and unafraid of anything. They lose any feeling or empathy and kill without mercy, including imperviousness to pain and violence, and craze for indiscriminating bloodlust.

The Syrian Army’s Fourth Armoured Division, an elite unit is suspected to be supervising the production and distribution of Captagon. The finished pills are hidden in false bottoms in shipping containers; packages of milk, tea and soap; and shipments of grapes, oranges or pomegranates. Then they are smuggled overland to Jordan and Lebanon, where some leave via Beirut’s air and seaports. The largest portion leave Syria from the Mediterranean port of Latakia.

Since 2015, drug enforcement agencies have found Captagon in the private jet of a Saudi prince, hidden in oil filters for trucks and machines for making tiles, mixed in with shipments of grapes and oranges, and stuffed inside plastic potatoes hidden in a shipment of real potatoes. Smugglers have buried the drugs with coffee and spices to confuse sniffer dogs and sealed them inside of lead bars and giant rocks to block scanners. Captagon has been seized in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, in the ports of Egypt, Greece and Italy, in an airport in France and as far away as Germany, Romania and Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia, the largest market, for Captagon, detected the drug in packets of tea and sewn into the linings of clothes. After the Saudi authorities discovered more than five million pills hidden inside hollowed out pomegranates shipped from Beirut, they banned produce from Lebanon. In 2017, Anti-narcotics forces in Madinah, Saudi Arabia, foiled the smuggling of 644,000 Captagon pills. The drug consignment, which was coming from Tabuk and heading for Jeddah, was intercepted in Madinah and the alleged smuggler arrested.

Recently, in November 2021, Turkish Customs teams confiscated more than a ton of Captagon drug pills at the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun in southern Turkey. It was reported to be the biggest seizure of its kind with a total of 1,072 kilograms (2,000 pounds) of Captagon drugs, more than 6.2 million pills. The contraband, worth over $37 million, was found hidden in 17 containers brought to the port for transit to the United Arab Emirates. The 17 containers were filled with stones typically used for decoration purposes. Narcotics detection dogs inspecting the cargo reacted to the stones and aroused the suspicions of Customs officials. Stones that were suspected of containing drugs were broken and were found to have hidden transparent packages filled with narcotics pills. Customs Officials took several samples from different containers and stones, analysed them with handheld material identification devices.

The handheld integrated Raman and FTIR spectroscopy instruments that were used are capable of identifying more than 14,500 individual substances, solids and liquids from narcotics to explosives and chemical warfare agents to industrial chemicals and precursors. The Raman technology enables a user to conduct non-contact and non-destructive analysis of samples in transparent and translucent containers without the need to open them and manipulate each sample, thus increasing user safety. Conversely, although FTIR spectroscopy requires direct contact analysis, it is more efficient and safer when identifying dark-coloured substances such as black tar heroin. It also has fewer chemical limitations and performs better on substances that suffer from very high levels of fluorescence, which sometimes obscures Raman spectra. Both technologies were used to complement each other as well as confirm results obtained by each other.

In India also, Captagon seizure was effected on September 3, 2016, by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Hyderabad. They recovered 230 kg of Amphetamine. It was one of the biggest drug busts of Hyderabad. The drug was supposed to be smuggled via Chennai port or Rajiv Gandhi International Airport to Southeast Asia. From there, it would find its way to Syria, for use by ISIS fighters.

In the light of the new evidence identifying Syria as a major production and distribution hub of Captagon, India needs to maintain high degree of vigil on the Western maritime border as also on the sensitive Kashmir border with Pakistan.

The author Dr G Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) Ph. D (Narcotics), is

  • Former Director General National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, and Multi-Disciplinary School of Economic Intelligence India
  • Fellow, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, USA.
  • Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA 
  • Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.
  • AOTS Scholar, Japan

Dr G Shreekumar Menon can be contacted at shreemenon48@gmail.com

NIA Files Charge Sheet against an ISIS operative in ISIS Delhi Amroha Module case

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: NIA filed supplementary charge sheet before the NIA Special Court, Patiala House, New Delhi against an accused person namely Mohd. Shahzad Kamal under section 121 of IPC and 17, 18, 39 and 40 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, on Tuesday 26 October 2021,

The case RC-38/2018/NIA/DLI was registered by NIA on 20 December 2018 against Mohd. Mufti Suhail and others members of Harkat-Ul-Harb-E-Islam, an organisation affiliated to the proscribed organisation ISIS. Earlier Charge sheet was filed against ten arrested accused persons in the instant case on 21 June 2019.

Investigation has revealed that the arrested accused Mohd. Shahzad Kamal was involved in conspiracy since its initial stage along with other co-accused persons. He was instrumental in arranging and providing funds from Saudi Arabia for furtherance of terrorist activities of Harkat-Ul-Harb-E-Islam.

NIA Special Court in Delhi sentences four Hizbul Mujahiddeen operatives

On Monday 25 October 2021 NIA Special Court, Delhi announced sentence against the four accused persons convicted on 27 September 2021 in JAKART case (RC 11/2011/NIA/DLI) unde Sections 120 B IPC, 121A IPC & sec17,18,18A, 18B, 20,38 & 40 UA(P)Act.

The convicted accused Mohammad Shafi Shah @ Doctor, @ Dawood, @ Nisar has been sentenced withRI 12 years and fine Rs. 15000/-; Talib Lali @ Waseem @ Abu Umer, sentenced with RI 10 years and fine Rs. 10000/-; Muzaffar Ahmad Dar @ Gaznavi, @ Mohd Ali sentenced with RI 12 years and fine Rs. 15000/- and Mushtaq Ahmad Lone @ Mushtaq Aalam sentenced with RI 10 years and fine Rs. 10000/-

This case was registered by NIA at New Delhi on 25.10.2011 against Mohd. Yusuf Shah @ Syed Salahuddin and others, who as members of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM ) were carrying out terrorist activities in India and regularly receiving funds from neighbouring jurisdiction. The funds so collected by HM through Jammu Kashmir Affecters Relief Trust (JKART), an NGO and frontal organization of HM, were being given to active terrorists and families of killed terrorists of HM in J&K.

After investigation, 12 accused were charge sheeted in this case. Four have been convicted and sentenced and remaining 8 accused are active cadres of HM including Syed Salauddin; who are absconding and currently based in Pakistan.

NIA Arrests ISIS Operative
NIA on Saturday 23 October 2021 arrested an ISIS operative Muhammad Tauqir Mahmood (33), resident of Bengaluru, in thw ISIS/ISIL/DAESH conspiracy case (RC-33/2020/NIA/DLI).

NIA had registered a case under section 120B, 125 of IPC & Section 17, 18 & 18B of UA (P) Act against Muhammad Tauqir Mahmood, Zuhab Hameed @ Shakeel Manna, Irfan Nasir & Mohd Shihab for having affiliation with the banned terrorist organisations ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

During investigation NIA had earlier arrested two accused Ahamed Abdul Cader & Irfan Nasir who were charge-sheeted on 1 April 2021.

Further Investigation has revealed that accused Muhammad Tauqir Mahmood in association with coaccused persons had raised funds, radicalized and recruited gullible Muslim youth of a Quran Circle group and illegally sent them to Syria to join ISIS. Earlier In 2013, Muhammad Tauqir Mahmood along with his associate had also visited Syria illegally to liaise with Daesh leadership and had offered support from Indian Muslims.

NIA Special Court Sentences ISIS Terrorist Subahani Haja Mohideen to Life Imprisonment

Newsroom24x7 Network

Ernakulam: NIA Special Court here on Monday 28 September 2020 sentenced dreaded ISIS terrorist Subahani Haja Mohideen (35), resident of Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu, in Omar Al-Hindi Module Case to life imprisonment and fine of Rs. 2,10,000.

Earlier, on 25 September 2020, the Court had convicted the accused under Sections 120B and 125 of IPC and sections 20, 38 and 39 of the UA (P) Act.

Background of the matter
This case was registered by NIA on 1 October 2016, based on credible information that certain youth had entered into a conspiracy and were making preparations to carry out terrorist attacks in India to further the objectives of proscribed terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)/ Daish. On 3 October 2016, searches were conducted at the house of Subahani Haja Mohideen in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, leading to seizure of incriminating material indicating his travel to the theatre of conflict in West Asia and he was arrested on 5 October 2016.

Forensic examination of the clothes used by the accused during his stay with the Islamic State and the forensic medical examination of his body established that he was in the war zone in Iraq. It was also established that Subahani Haja Moideen, after returning to India on 21 September 2015, had attempted to procure explosive chemicals from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, based on instructions from his handlers in Islamic State, to carry out terrorist attacks in India, on behalf of ISIS/ Daish.

Investigation also revealed that Subahani Haja Moideen had exited India from Chennai and reached Turkey on 8 April, 2015. He had then illegally crossed over to Iraq through land border and joined the Islamic State using the name Abu Jasmine Al-Hindi. After undergoing religious and arms training with ISIS/ Daish in Iraq, he was deployed with ISIS’ military formation Umar Ibnu Khatab Khatiba, headed by the French national Abu Suleiman Al-Francisi, who was
later killed.

Subahani Haja Moideen was also associated with Pakistani national Mohammed Usman Ghani, while being in the Islamic State. Mohammed Usman Ghani was subsequently arrested and is now incarcerated in France, for his involvement in 13/11 Paris attacks of 2015.

US, Gulf allies act to disrupt the ability of ISIS to finance its global operations

Newsroom24x7 Network

Washington DC: The seven member states of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) on Wednesday 15 July designated six individuals and entities affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as part of their efforts to disrupt ISIS’s ability to finance its global operations.

Wednesday’s actions target money services businesses and a charity that operated under false pretenses and played a vital role in transferring funds to support ISIS operations, including by funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to ISIS leaders in Syria and Iraq.

These sanctions impact three Syria-based money services businesses – al Haram Exchange, Tawasul Company, and al-Khalidi Exchange – along with a senior ISIS financial facilitator, Abd-al-Rahman Ali Husayn al-Ahmad al-Rawi, and Afghanistan-based Nejaat Social Welfare Organization and its director, Sayed Habib Ahmad Khan. These individuals and entities were previously designated by the United States under Executive Order 13224.

Ther latest actions by TFTC serve as a further warning to individuals and businesses who provide financial support or material assistance to terrorist organizations.

The TFTC coordinates and shares financial intelligence information to target activities that pose a threat to the national security of its members, which include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.