In an extensive interview with the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, a captured Islamic State jihadist tells reporters that he and his comrades took hallucinogenic drugs “just before” entering battle that distorted the look of the battlefield and made them feel more empowered to kill.
Rudaw spoke with two former Islamic State jihadists captured by the Kurdish Peshmerga — 23-year-old Hussein Ali Shaddad and 25-year-old Amir Ahmed Ali — who both joined the Islamic State after initially joining the resistance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Shaddad, who had graduated from college with a Bachelor’s in civil engineering before joining the Syrian Free Army and, eventually, the Islamic State, told interviewers that he and other fighters regularly took drugs before battle. “When we entered a battle, we took pills that would change your perception of what was going on,” he told the interviewer, who is not shown or heard in the video. “You thought tanks were birds that you could annihilate with your sword,” he explains. Shaddad noted that pills were taken “just when we entered a fight so the effect was maximum.”
Shaddad identified the drug as “Zolan,” which Rudaw describes as “a sedative for reducing anxiety and fear.” Zolan is one of the names for Alprazolam, a controlled substance commonly known as Xanax in the United States. Hallucinations are a known side effect of Alprazolam use and a symptom of withdrawal from the drug once a person is dependent on it.
Reports have surfaced previously of the use of Alprazolam to prepare for battle among Islamic State terrorists. A 15-year-old jihadist captured claimed he was given Zolam before fighting in an interview with CBS in October.
Shaddad also told Rudaw that he took drugs before killing people, and that he had personally killed seven “infidels” by shooting them, though some jihadists prefer using a sword.
Ali, the second fighter interviewed by Rudaw, did not mention drugs, and claimed that he became a fighter for the Islamic State because “we had no other solution” once the Syrian Free Army began working with the group. He claimed “emirs” who were tasked with teaching the jihadists about Islam came from all corners of the world, including China, and curiously noted that he did not fear “martyrdom” at the hands of a female Kurdish fighter, believing he would still receive his 72 virgins in Heaven because “there are no differences between men and women.”