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Paris attackers not on drugs, toxicology report finds

Bertrand Guat, AFP | Police in Paris stand outside Le Petit Cambodge restaurant on November 15, 2015, one of the sites of the November terror attacks

A toxicology report performed in late December shows that none of the participants in the November 13 attacks in Paris were drugged, French daily Le Parisien reported today.

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The report seems to disprove the testimony of some eyewitnesses to the attacks who thought the attackers appeared under the influence of psychotropic drugs, and discredits the widely-held suspicion that the attackers had used Captagon, an amphetamine pill sometimes called the “jihad drug” because of its close association with the Islamic State (IS) group.

According to Le Parisien, a source close to the toxicology analysis ruled out the possibility that any of the attackers were drugged or drunk during the attacks.

The analysis found only faint traces of cannabis and alcohol in the blood of two of the attackers but the amounts were so small that they could not have been ingested the day of the attack, the report said.

Traces of cannabis were found in the blood of Brahim Abdeslam, the suicide bomber at the Comptoir Voltaire cafe in the 11 arrondissement (neighbourhood). Likewise, faint levels of alcohol were found in the blood of Samy Amimour, one of the attackers at the Bataclan concert hall, while traces of cocaine were present in the blood of Hasna Aitboulahcen, the cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the presumed coordinator of the attacks.

Aitboulahcen was known as a party girl before her sudden radicalisation just six months before the attacks. However, the report concluded that these substances had to have been ingested before November 13.

Drugs used by IS group

Accounts that the Paris terrorists were drugged circulated widely after the November terrorist attacks.

One hostage from the Bataclan attack told Le Monde that the attackers seemed “drugged, unprepared, super nervous”. Another witness said: “It was like they were zombies, as if they were drugged.”

A New York Times opinion piece by Pamela Druckerman on November 27th reported that, “The attackers were apparently taking an amphetamine called Captagon, which makes you feel all-powerful and fearless.”

Captagon is the discontinued brand name of an amphetamine pill that was prescribed to treat narcolepsy and depression but has been banned in most countries since the 1980s.

It remains, however, a popular recreational drug in the Middle East, and illegal trafficking of it has become a major source of financing for some Syrian rebel groups, as well as the IS group.

In 2014, the IS group captured a pharmaceutical plant in Aleppo that produces Captagon, allowing them to sell the drug throughout the Middle East. Meanwhile, many fighters in the Syrian civil war are reported to take Captagon before going into battle.

A 19-year-old IS militant fighter told CNN in November: "They gave us drugs, hallucinogenic pills that would make you go to battle not caring if you live or die."

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