Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin
Psychoanalyst & Counter Terrorist Expert

Hamas’s Unconscious Choice of Poison

Screenshot Wikicommons image of cyanide sign

The Paranoia of Cyanide

War Blog #10 (revised 08.11.23


Israeli President Isaac Herzog has revealed evidence of Hamas terrorists who broke into Israel were found carrying instructions on how to make chemical weapons including using cyanide against civilian population of Israel.

Hamas terrorists ordered to use chemical weapons on civilians – Israel

The IDF found a USB key containing a PDF of al-Qaeda material which included instructions to behead babies, take hostages and create chemical weapons – how to create “improvised cyanide dispersion devices.”Cf.

Political Paranoia
In one of the most highly venerated texts for the study of political terrorism, entitled Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred (1997, written by Robins and Post, they argue that paranoia lies at the core of the terrorist personality. True, Hamas’s hollow jihadis are flagrantly paranoid. This is a no brainer.

In 2004 Jerrold M. Post, M.D., also edited Military Studies in the Jihad against the Tyrants: THE AL-QAEDA TRAINING MANUAL in the sixteenth lesson on how to assassinate using poisons and cold steel. However, in his edit cyanide is not mentioned. Cf.

The Absence of the Mother in Political Paranoia
There is another absence as well besides not mentions cyanide and this absence is a telling sign of the deep denial in which many counter terrorist experts reside. There is no mention of the mother and maternal attachment in the entire text. This failure to deal with early childhood development, maternal attachment and the toxic environment in which the jihadis are raised most especially as infants is crippling to building a profound knowledge base about political terrorism.

I do not say this in order to promote empathy for Hamas’s hollow jihadis. They do not have empathy, therefore do I have empathy. They are cold-blooded killers. Political Paranoia is a prime example of this significant oversight, failing to explain the origin of paranoia for political terrorism. This misleads us. This signals too that there are deeply hidden terrors within the experts and within us all. I call this the inner terrorist or the terrorist within all of us and I will blog about this in the future. Since there is no mention of the mother, there is really no indepth discussion of its psychodynamics. Hence our strategies and tactics remain weak.

As I have been emphasizing throughout my blog posts, maternal bonding is the source from which paranoia springs. In Arab culture it is said – “Paradise lies beneath the feet of the mother.” Think of the image of giving birth. It all springs from the toxic environment in which ummi was raised, without power save for her enmeshed relationship with her future jihadi son.

The “Paranoid” Attack of the Baby on the Mother
Yes you read that right — the baby attacking the mother?! The theme of attacking returns. In paranoia the mother experiences the baby as attacking. While that may seem odd to a lay person, consider the fact that the mother is the chronically hated object in the shame‒honor culture and religion. Because of being objectified and having all this male rage projected into her fragile sense of female self as a little girl who also lives under the eternal death threat of the honor killing, she projects her annihilation anxieties into the baby as having a male baby is her first taste of power. The bonding is automatically skewed if not toxic as the male baby is her narcissistic object of power and control. The mother experiences the baby as attacking because she misinterprets the baby’s needs as exhausting demands on her already depleted self.

Hamas’s Cyanide and their Mothers
Cyanide is an excellent choice of jihadis because of it striking psychological terror as well as rapid physical death. Cyanide poisoning can lead to death in a matter of minutes or hours. The paranoid mind always strives to poison the other. It can be thought of as a concretized introjection. There is a book whose title aptly catches this idea – The Prison of Paranoia. Hamas lives in its own imprisoned inner world always already embattled. cf. Hamas’s Battle War Blog #9. They feel; they act. They make concrete what they feel as if they are speaking in a concrete sign language, they are actually signing that the trauma of their early childhood was toxic, a poisoned environment and by golly, they are going to make you imbue that poison by having it inflicted upon you, the victim, quite literally.

Cyanide Bonding
Cyanide also affords Hamas, Al Qaeda and ISIS a uniquely perverse way of bonding with its victims who remain a replacement for the mother. Cyanide causes annihilating devastation, which fits with the psychotic primitive mental states of the jihadi. The paranoia of the jihadi is writ large with weapons of mass destruction, which also harkens back to the concept of nuclear and its fusion and fission.

Contagion terrorism involves bioterrorism of some kind and exposure to a toxin, which spreads. “Contagion terrorism at some point can be reversed when the cumulative number of incidents begins to decrease rather than increase the probability of future incidents.”

From a psychological point of view, behavioral contagion is a kind of hybrid terrorism interwoven or mingling with contagion terrorism because the use of poison or biological elements to create terrorism is communicated through contact. Jihadi terrorism engages a herd mentality, which mobilizes imitative and copycat tendencies [i.e copying the Al Qaeda playbook.] This psychological aspect gets concretely formulated in contagion terrorism. Contact such as touching creates a fusion, even if it is only for a moment or split second, and delivery may be through an object of some sort such as a weapon or missile. The phenomenon of contagion refers back to the dyadic, fused behavioral experience. It also involves paranoia because of the primary maternal relationship in which paranoia arises. The mother experiences the needs of the baby as attacking. Paranoia often entails terrors of poisoning and in this case is concretized through the weapon of contagion. cf. The Jihadi Dictionary

To conclude
I offer some food for thought instead of poison. Political Islam has always been the tip of the spear for Islam, though this is always denied by the Ummah. Now we are hearing that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people, yet the Palestinians celebrated upon hearing and seeing the massacre of October 7.

“Hamas Represents a Very Important Part of the Palestinian People”
Ret. Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser raised this very question — To what extent does Hamas represent the Palestinians?
His answer is that to a very large extent Hamas is embraced and venerated by the Palestinian people.

It is not really denial though rather an effective maneuver to deflect while at the same time engage in aggression and rage vicariously by splitting it off and letting the jihadis do the dirty work. To admit that they share in a group psychosis is terrifying and this is precisely the function of political terrorism, though it is not spoken about very often — its goal is to make you get sucked into and suffer the insanity of their world, only then do they feel momentarily alive.

P.S. My colleague Brig. Gen. (ret.) John Galatas, M.D. reminded me of several important horrific uses of poison in jihadi terrorism. He wrote: Why not [cyanide]? Nothing is exotic anymore. [Remember] February 2003 AQ-related Bahrain terrorist cell designed a Hydrogen cyanide dispersal device, the al-Mubtakkar (The Invention), planned to be used in the NYC subway – plot failed. Do not forget the ISIS expertise in chemical weapons and a possible covert collaboration with Hamas or Hezb and of course Iran with a known history of CWAs.

*A shout out to John as I wish to acknowledge his outstanding work in the field of CRBNE by my colleague Brig. Gen. (ret.) John Galatas, M.D. To learn more about biological chemical terrorism see his website


About the Author
Dr. Kobrin made aliyah in 2010 and is an internationally renowned counterterrorism expert and psychoanalyst holding a PhD in Islamic literature, aljamía 16th c. Author of five books. She has conducted prison interviews, a former military contractor with an academic appointment as external expert at La Universidad de Granada. She is a senior research analyst for The Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism Center. She also works in citizen diplomacy. In August 2020 she was the first Israeli to be live-streamed from Islamabad.