Taurine-loaded Red Bull has become the energy drink of choice for Islamist fighters in Syria, as it is revealed dozens of lorries are crossing the Turkish border every week, carrying cargoes of the drink to fatigued fighters battling militias and the Syrian state alike.
The revelation of the unusual exports came after new trade figures were published by Turkey, revealing the make-up of exports to war-torn Syria, which is still counted as a unified country despite the border crossings now largely being in the hands of rebel groups including the Islamic State.
Lucrative tolls on passing trade are collected by whoever controls the crossing, meaning jihadist groups are very likely to be turning a healthy profit on taxing trade, tapping an income stream previously the sole reserve of the legitimate Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
TheLocal.at reports the remarks of the owner of just one Turkish shipping company, which runs lorries across the Syrian border, before the goods are transshipped onto waiting Syrian trucks. On the remarkable volume of Red Bull he delivers, Mr. Yilmaz said: “While cement, vegetable oil, bulgur wheat, flour, salt and tinned fruit are popular, it is Red Bull that is most sought after by ISIS fighters. Every day we have four or five trucks carrying Red Bulls to Syria”.
The conflict across Syria and Iraq between disparate Islamist factions, the Syrian government and now Western air power remains intense, and will no doubt be physically and mentally taxing on those involved on both sides. It is no surprise, therefore that Islamist troops would seek to import energy drinks to boost flagging morale, but this isn’t the only form of enhancement on offer.
It is reported there is also a flourishing trade in Amphetamines, known by their street name Speed or Whizz, a popular drug in the clubbing scene as it allows users to perform physically demanding tasks for hours without tiring. According to British government advice, Speed makes users “overactive, agitated or even acutely psychotic”, presumably useful qualities in the pursuit of jihad.