Since New York “twins” have tumbled down in September 2001, the word “terrorism” has even more ominous phonation … Perhaps, since then the humankind has seriously considered forms and methods of struggle against this all-planetary harm, which does not recognize any borders. However, as it is said, everything new is well-forgotten old. Moreover, the epoch of terrorism rise traces its roots back to the remote past. In an antiquity it was considered, that the terrorism represents one of the methods of struggle between weak and strong. It is a method of “killing from ambush”. And, probably, this method has always existed. And hardly any region of the world can compete to the Near East according to the high degree of organization and scope of terrorism.
Writer, Tamaz Natroshvili presents an episode of thousand-year prescription as a case in point. Early in the morning, huge fright had risen in the camp of Mongolian troops, which was going for a campaign to the Northwest Iran: it turned out, that military leader Chagatai was assassinated at night by an unknown murderer. The latter had slipped through the guard into the Chagatai tent and imperceptibly disappeared from it afterwards.
There were Georgian troops in Mongolian army, forcedly driven away to the war. More than once Georgians had been complaining about the prolonged campaign, and the first suspicions, naturally, fell on them. The furious Mongols, having drawn their weapon, rushed with shouts to the Georgian tents. Serious skirmish was about to happen. But, unexpectedly an unknown soldier with bloodstained sword jumped out off thickets of a cane, shouting in Persian: “I have killed Chagatai!” The soldier was disarmed. And, on a question why he had committed murder, he answered: “I am Mulid (Contract Killer)”.
Sects of Mulids, killing from ambush were well known in the East and even in the Europe in those days. A word “Mulid” in Arabic means apostate, heretic. Mulids were more known under the name Assassins in the Europe. According to one of the versions, this word came from the distorted form of Arabian “Hashishin”, that is the smoker of hashish.
Religious sect of Ismaili, which had arisen even earlier – in VIII century and was resisting to an orthodox Islam, based the order of Mulids-Assassins in the end of XI century in Iran. The Iranian feudal lords who had lost their estates after intrusion of Seljuk Turks into Iran and dreamed to return former power and influence headed the order of Assassins. It is interesting, that poor peasants and city lower classes were also accepted in the order.
Assassin order was established by Hassan-i-Sabah, representative of a noble family. Speaking modern language, Hassan-i-Sabah passed Ismaili training in one of Egyptian caliphates – the center of propagation of Ismailism. He traveled long enough across Iran, actively propagandizing the doctrine, searching for a place where it would be possible to settle down. Finally, he chose Alamut fortress – erected among forbidding rocks of mountain range of Elbrus. It is interesting, that this massif is located near Afghani Mountains where the most known terrorist of the present Osama bin Laden was hiding for a long time.
Alamut fortress was considered unassailable, but Assassins could take hold of it, not resorting to siege and military actions. Hassan-i-Sabah inclined the whole garrison with its chief to his doctrine. It occurred in 1090. After that, Assassins repeatedly succeeded in seizing all new fortresses in a similar way that they then transformed into the principal bases and expanded their power. Assassins fortified their position in the mountains of Syria in the beginning of XII century.
Hassan-i-Sabah himself, who was known under the name “Mountain Elder”, lived in solitude, he spent time in prays, read much and personally worked out smart plans of revenge to enemies. He did not leave unassailable Alamut fortress for thirty-five years and his name inspired fear in the whole Near East.
He led an ascetic way of life and demanded austerity and full abstention from his supporters and members of the order. It is known, that even the flutist was expelled from Alamut fortress, and alcoholic drinks overall were forbidden. The head of order put his own son to death for infringements of wine prohibition. Another son was executed on his command on charge in murder of his brother-in-arms. When it became known, that his son was not involved in murder, the death overtook also the slanderer. By the way, Sabah appointed the nearest brother-in-arms and not his relative as his successor.
A message flashed by in the western press several years ago that a certain person having seen and communicated with bin Laden, does not believe that this weak, imperceptible man, living almost all the time in the mountains of Afghanistan could organize appalling act of terrorism on September, 11th. What to say? Hassan-i-Sabah was imperceptible as well … Does the history repeat?
Legends were composed about the humility of Assassins to their leaders in the East. Venetian historian, Marino Sanuto wrote: “In 1194 during an armistice, count of Champagne, sovereign of Jerusalem, Anri arrived to visit the leader of Syrian Assassins. While walking, they noticed young men in white clothes on a high tower. The leader of Assassins asked the count-crusader, whether there were people among his troops obedient and loyal to him as his people, and, not waiting for the answer, he made some sign to two young men on a tower. The latter rushed downwards in a blink and, certainly, did not survive” …
In fact, Assassins did not conduct large-scale operations. Their main weapon was terror. They considered terror more humane and effective way of struggle than war, as less people were killed during terror. Assassins delivered “dot blows” on concrete persons, not jeopardizing innocent people. Today terrorists apply absolutely opposite tactics directed first against innocent people.
The basic part of sect was engaged in protection and life-support of numerous castles and fortresses, processing fields and growing up cattle. The main fighting components were Fidains. In Arabic, the word Fidai means “sacrificing a life”, and in Japanese, the same word means “Kamikaze”. Fidains were exposed to powerful psychological and religious indoctrination; they were under complete control to the master. But Fidains were not ordained into religious essence of Ismailism. They were passing long special trainings, they were taught endurance, how to change appearance, escape shadowing and wield practically any weapon.
Some groups of Fidains studied European languages. An interesting example: Fidains, sent to kill marquis Conrad Monferrat, perfectly knew the language of Francs, their customs and system. All six months while they were living in a camp of crusaders, waiting for an opportunity, they were taken for Christian monks and nobody had the slightest suspicion on them. Conrad Monferrat himself trusted them, when two young familiar “monks” attacked him in the Tir Street on April 29th, 1192. Marquis’s armed guard killed one of the monks, and another managed to disappear in church. When the wounded marquis was brought there, Fidain jumped out of his shelter and made a fatal blow …
And here is how the governor of Gandzha (modern territory of Azerbaijan), Orhan was killed as a result that he dared to plunder one of Assassins’ estates. Three masked Fidains approached to Orhan in the street, brandishing a paper with the complaint on some dignitary and loudly shouting: “We demand Justice!” Orhan didn’t even manage to ask whom they were complaining against as he received several fatal blows by knife. Fidains, swinging knifes, stained with blood, rushed to the streets of Gandzha, loudly glorifying their master, until arrows and stones have not knocked them down.
Fidains always tried to commit murder effectively, even dramatizing the action a little bit. They often attacked a victim at large gathering of people and killed it in everybody’s sight. They attacked Muslim emir in a mosque during a populous Friday pray, and they murdered Christian duke in church during Sunday service. Having put a fatal blow, Fidain tried to commit suicide, assured, that he would be taken to paradise. By the way, mainly for this reason many historians have connected such behavior with the use of drugs.
Heretofore researchers cannot come to the final answer – what role did the drugs play in the life of Assassins. Italian traveler, Marko Polo considered that the constant use of hashish could not make the person hardy, courageous, strong-willed such as Fidains. He believed, that Fidains used hashish directly ahead of performance of the task and only once in a life so that they would dream of the paradise garden. In favor of this version speaks also the fact that even in a captivity and during tortures Fidains retained purposefulness. It is known that when one Fidain slandered several emirs and dignitaries before Seljuk sultan during tortures. He could convince the Sultan that all of them had been members of Assassins’ order. Slandered by the Fidain, the governor of Samarqand, the son of Seljuk governor of Kerman and other influential enemies of Assassins were killed.
Assassins were actively creating divaricated network of secret adherents and informers in a hostile camp. Persian historian Ravendi tells about such case. In the beginning of XII century Assassins seized a fortress nearby to Isfahan. Seljuks besieged it. Soon Assassins ran out of food and their leader Ibn Attash addressed to the secret adherent of the order, vizier of sultan Mohammed for help. The vizier decided to kill Mohammed, but his plan was revealed, and all participants were put to death after severe tortures. Ibn Attash was forced to surrender. He was also executed; hangmen excoriated him while he was alive. However, later Assassins annihilated those who were guilty in the death of Ibn Attash.
The power of Assassins lasted more than one and a half century. They considered Seljuks as the main enemies, but their traces were also detected in Europe, including, Paris and Marseilles. Twice had Assassins attempted upon a life of Egyptian sultan, Saladin.
Glorified in fights, the sultan, Kurd by origin, being afraid of Assassins, moved in a mobile wooden tower and constantly carried chain armour under his clothes. Baghdad and Cairo caliphs, viziers and emirs of Seljuk power, the governor of the Iranian and Syrian cities were among victims of Assassins. Fidain’s knife did not distinguished between the Christian and a Moslem, but its victim was always exclusively high-ranking officials…
In 1250, Mongols seized and destroyed Alamut fortress. Having captured the fortress, the leader of Mongols, Khulagu-khan climbed to observe it. According to Persian historian Rashid Ad-din, Khulagu-khan bit his finger “with astonishment due to the greatness of that mountain”. Mongols have slaughtered all Assassins. Few in number sects of Ismaili exist up to the present time in some east countries, but the order itself has sunk into oblivion.
Though, who knows? Perhaps this terrible Osama Bin Laden is the successor of the “Mountain Elder”, Hassan-i-Sabah if not the descendant.
Assassins are members of Muslim sect of Ismaili (11-13 cc), distinguished by extreme fanaticism. They committed political murders under influence of hashish. The main base was located in the mountain fortress Alamut; the head of order was called “Elder from mountains”. By 1256, Mongols had destroyed Iranian fortresses of the order under the command of Khulagu-khan. In 1273, Mameluke governor, Beibars destroyed fortifications in Syria. The Big Encyclopedic dictionary (BED)
Maya Nebieridze, specialy for newcaucasus.com