Assassinations That Changed the World

Season 1 Episode 2

Fanaticism That Endures

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The word "assassin" comes from the European name for the member of a secret order of the Ismaili sect of Islam. The order was founded by Hasan ibn al-Sabbah when he gained control (c.1090) of the mountain fortress of Alamut near the Caspian Sea. The order spread over Persia and Syria, gaining control of many strongholds, and it soon inspired terror throughout the Muslim world. The order was organized into strict classes, the most important of which were the devotees, who sought martyrdom and were used as instruments of assassination. It is generally believed that these devotees were given hashish and treated to great sensual pleasures as a foretaste of the pleasures of paradise that they were promised if they died during their duties. The term assassin came into English and is used today to mean murderer and particularly one who kills for political motives. Sometimes, the assassin will die in his attempt to kill, but often he does not and is brought to justice or flees into hiding. However, the traits of today's assassins and the original order are sometimes very similar. Often, the attempt to kill, in an assassin's mind, will be rewarded by martyrdom or eternal paradise if they are successful or die trying.moreless
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