It is often been said that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. Murder though, might not be that far behind. It may well be the oldest act committed by humanity, that is if we accept the Biblical narrative of a jealous Cain murdering his brother Abel in absolute terms. Though murder often has numerous causes, it is the killing for hire that is the subject of this article. Assassinations have been conducted ever since history began to be recorded. Often the reasons have been political and at times personal. As the methods and tactics of assassins were detected and uncovered, potential targets for assassination began to take countermeasures, such as bodyguards and patrols and in modern times bullet proof vests and armored transport. With such protection making the job of an assassin harder to accomplish the side doing the killing have adopted more refined and sophisticated methods, in this article we will study various cases from history where assassins have used ingenious methods to dispose of individuals slated for death by known and unknown forces.
5. Mahmoud Hamshari
Mahmoud Hamshari was the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) representative in Paris, France. In the aftermath of the Munich Olympics hostage crisis in 1972, in which PLO terrorists took hostage and later killed eleven Israeli athletes, the government of Golda Meir assembled a crack unit of Mossad(Israeli Intelligence) assassins to track down and kill in cold blood all the PLO commanders who were suspected to have had a hand in organizing or facilitating the attack on the Israeli athletes. They drew up a list of eleven(for every athlete killed) PLO commanders to be eliminated in attention grabbing manner so as to deter future terrorists. In December 1972 Mahmoud Hamshari was the name on the list to be targeted. The Mossad set up a bogus interview; with one of their agents acting as a reporter to distract Hamshari so that another agent could rig his home telephone with explosives. After the interview was over Hamshari received a telephone call in his office, on the other end of the line was a Mossad agent who asked him if he was indeed Hamshari, when Hamshari answered yes, the agent detonated the bomb with a remote control and killed him.
4. Georgi Markov
In the old Communist bloc behind the iron curtain dissent was not dealt with on nice terms. You were told what to say and what to do, even what to think. The leaders of those nations really took Orwell to heart. Though censorship varied from country to country in the end whatever you said or wrote was subject to scrutiny. Such was the case for talented and renowned Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov. Though initially he was lauded in his home country for his beautiful writing, over time he came to feel the stifling wrath of the increasingly conservative and out of touch government censorship. Due to his high status in society he was given the precious privilege to travel abroad, unlike the majority of his trapped compatriots back home. Markov took this opportunity to defect in 1969 to Italy, then on to London. For nearly a decade Markov not content to humiliate the regime in Bulgaria with just his high profile defection, went to work for various western media outlets and continued needling the regime with sarcastic writing. Apparently in 1978 they had had enough and called on the Russian KGB to find a way to get rid of Markov. The Russians came up with a chilling manner of murdering the unsuspecting writer. On the night of September 7th, 1978, while walking on Piccadilly square during a rain storm, Markov was “accidentally” stabbed in the leg with the tip of an umbrella by an unknown person. This stabbing emitted the poison ricin into his bloodstream, killing him four days later.
3. Ali Hassan Salameh
Although the aftermath of the attack on the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics has been discussed, this case of assassination is somewhat special, given that it occurred some seven years after he initial wave of Mossad attacks on PLO commanders. The subject in question is Ali Hassan Salameh, the purported brains behind the hostage crisis in Munich, hence why the Mossad never gave up on taking him out. Salameh like many terror leaders of his day was somewhat of a playboy, more interested in his international reputation than the cause he was fighting for. His nickname was “The Red Prince” owning to his socialist beliefs and privileged upbringing. He was known for being the man that “glamorized” terrorism, living in an upscale neighborhood of Beirut and marrying Miss Lebanon. This of course did not deter the Israelis at all. And what is an article about assassinations if we can’t include a femme fatale into the mix. Enter Erika Chambers. A pseudonym for a Mossad agent, she entered Lebanon disguised as a British student working for a refugee agency helping Palestinians. As a blonde haired, green eyed woman she immediately stood out. Which was the effect the Mossad had intended. She moved into the chic bohemian neighborhood where Salameh was living and instantly caught the eye of the playboy terror leader. By getting close to him, she learned the innermost workings of his daily security routine. In doing so, Israel was able to plant a bomb on a street where Salameh would be driving by. Rumor has it, Erika Chambers pressed the button on the remote controlled bomb that killed Salameh.
2. Rajiv Gandhi
The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India’s prime minister, isn’t particularly that sophisticated, but what makes it stand out was the fact that he was the first leader of a nation to be killed by a suicide bomber. Rajiv Gandhi had made the decision to involve the Indian military under the auspice of peacekeeping eforts in the brutal civil war raging in the island nation of Sri Lanka. Soon enough though the Indian troops came under attack from the enigmatic rebel group known as the Tamil Tigers. In response, the Indian peacekeeping troops started to commit gross human rights violations against the civilian Tamil population, particularly the tactic of war rape on Tamil women. One such woman was recruited by the Tigers for a suicide mission to kill Gandhi. On the day of May 21st, 1991, she managed to slip by security pat-downs by pretending to be pregnant and come face to face with Gandhi as he was holding a political rally. Playing her part perfectly she bowed down in “reverence” to him and then set off her suicide belt, killing the Indian Prime Minister.
1. Ibn Al-Khattab
The war in Chechnya has long been known for its no holds barred methods and the ferocity of the fighting. Tucked away in a small corner of the Caucasus mountains, the small nation of Chechnya about the size of Rhode Island, has on and off for almost three hundred years fought against the mighty Russian Empire. Amazingly even winning in the mid 1990’s. With the restoration of Russian power under the tough and uncompromising President Vladimir Putin, that victory was short lived. What was once a valiant resistance movement though has now degenerated into radical Islamist terrorism. Going up against such insurmountable odds the Chechens made a bargain with the devil, they allowed Gulf Arab money and fanatic soldiers to give them a helping hand in their fight, not knowing that it would be such soldiers who would corrupt and destroy their cause. One such soldier was an obscure Arab going by the nome de guerre,, “Khattab”(pictured left.) Known for his brutal methods such as executing Russian prisoners and setting off bombs in crowded civilian areas, Khattab was made a number one priority for the Russian intelligence services to assassinate. Because he was known to hide in remote woodlands, an operation to flush him out would cost many Russian lives. That’s when the Russian FSB the successor to the KGB came up with arguably the most sophisticated assassination plot ever devised. They captured Khattab’s courier and suborned him to work for them. Then sent him to meet Khattab with a letter from a family member back home in Saudi Arabia. Unbeknownst to Khattab, that letter was tainted with ricin poison. When Khattab opened and read the letter, the poison seeped into his pores and killed him within minutes.