Assassins - Medieval Special Forces

The influence of the Assassins on history is enormous. Great warriors, they were "medieval special forces", perfected the methods of recruitment and intelligence, following their example, the secret orders of Europe were built.

Medieval Utopia

The Alamut state, in which the order of the Assassins was born, was a kind of utopia of the medieval world. Its founder, commander and preacher Ibn Sabbah was able to nullify the difference between rich and poor already in the 11th century. Leading an ascetic lifestyle himself, he imposed the strictest prohibition on all manifestations of luxury: feasts, hunts, and outfits. Any disobedience was punishable by death, which did not bypass even his own son, who fell under suspicion of non-compliance with the laws.

The entire Nizari state, which stretched across the territories of Persia, Syria, Iran and Iraq, was unquestioningly subordinate to one person, who was also a spiritual leader. According to his doctrine, the knowledge of God by reason and thinking is impossible. Knowledge can be achieved only by the personal teaching of the true imam, who was allegedly known only to Sabbah. Those who did not recognize him, according to the teaching, went to hell. No other Muslims, with the exception of the Ismailis, had the right to salvation, since they knew religion by reason.

Despite its simplicity, Ibn Sabbah's program took root ideally in 11th century Arab society. She did not imply religious disputes and demanded only one thing - unlimited obedience to the imam, for which the deeply believers were promised heavenly tabernacles. Even an illiterate peasant could understand the ideology of Ibn Sabbah. She freed from the need to think and make decisions. She argued that the leader knows the ultimate and absolute truth. It turned out to be so successful that a small state, built on its postulates, held out until the middle of the 13th century, falling only under the hooves of the Mongolian cavalry.

Pioneers in Recruitment

In fact, the assassins were "medieval special forces", which was engaged in collecting information, and also dealt with politicians disadvantageous to the ruler of the Nizari state - ibn Sabbah. On religious values, where the imam, the leader of the Ismailis, was deified, and his words were taken as a manifestation of divine reason, Sabbah managed to create an order of his fanatical followers, ready, at the first order, to fulfill any order of the master, up to bills with life. It was the Nizari army, which, despite its small numbers, kept the neighboring countries in constant fear.

It was the assassins who were among the first to master and introduce the concept of recruitment - they managed to get agents in the highest echelons of power in neighboring states. When entering the intelligence structures, it was suggested that a great mission was entrusted to him, before which all worldly temptations and fears fade. Naturally, for the one who became an assassin, the way back was ordered.


Historians note that Ibn Sabbah was a real master of hoaxes, with the help of which he demonstrated his semi-divine essence. With the help of some tricks, he managed to achieve the complete loyalty of his subordinate assassins. According to the stories of Marco Polo, the aspirant to the order was drugged (apparently with opium poppy) and secretly transported to a simulated "Garden of Eden", where "virgins-gurias", an abundance of wine and food (after a long exhausting starvation) awaited him. The Gurias convinced the future hashashshin suicide bomber that he had ended up in paradise and would be able to return here only if he fell in battle with the infidels.

After he was again intoxicated and returned to the real world, which for those who had been in paradise lost all value. All further aspirations and dreams of the assassin were subordinated to the only desire to once again be in the arms of the heavenly maidens. It is worth noting that we are talking about the XI century, when for any adultery they could execute, and for those many poor people who were not able to pay kalym for a bride, women were an unattainable luxury.

Ibn Sabbah had other trump cards up his sleeve in case the heavenly booths did not intoxicate the aspirant to the order. So, sources mention his trick with a talking severed head - in one of the halls of the Alamut fortress, a copper dish with a circle carved in the center was installed. By order of Sabbaz, the assassin hid in a hole, poked his head through the hole, and showed the allegedly severed head. Then young adherents were invited into the hall, at the sight of which the "dead head" abruptly "came to life" and began to speak. Future assassins were allowed to ask questions about their salvation and paradise, for which the head gave quite optimistic forecasts. To make the focus more authentic, after the ceremony, the "actor" was killed, and his head was cut off, and the next day it was demonstrated at the gates of the fortress.

Europeans also mentioned the mystical power of Hasan ibn Sabbah in their memoirs. So, one of the European ambassadors after visiting Alamut wrote: "Wanting to demonstrate the fanatical loyalty of his soldiers, Hasan made a barely noticeable wave of his hand and several guards standing on the fortress walls, on his order, immediately threw themselves into a deep gorge ...".

Highly Specialized Special Forces

Despite their small numbers, the Assassins reduced their losses through a clear division of responsibilities and area of ​​action. Each suicide bomber was trained to work in one region. He should ideally have a command of the language and knowledge of the culture of the state in which he could be involved. In addition, the soldier possessed all available types of weapons, possessed extraordinary endurance, and also enjoyed the right of permissiveness in the name of achieving a sacred goal. History knows a unique example, when, in order to assassinate one of the European princes, who was reputed to be an ardent Catholic, Hassan ordered several assassins to convert to Christianity. They went through the rite of baptism and, after a while, became known as ardent Catholics who zealously observed all the fasts. They spent long hours in prayer, dispensing donations, accepting those who were in need. Eventually, even the guards of the temple began to regard them as humble novices. Which they took advantage of - during one of the services, one of them managed to approach his victim and kill her with a dagger blow.

The Fathers of Conspiracy

The Assassin Order, which was familiar to the Crusaders firsthand, with its strict hierarchy, deliberately shrouded in mystery, became a model for numerous secret orders in the West. After long tests that a candidate for adepts had to go through - patient waiting, hunger, brainwashing, he received the status of "fedain" - an ordinary executor of death sentences. If fate was favorable to him, and he did not die for several years, he was promoted to a senior private - "rafik". Then came the "yes-i", through which the "Old Man of the Mountain" (Ibn Sabbah himself) conveyed his will to the soldiers. The highest rung of the assassin's career ladder was the status of "dai al-kirbal", which were subordinate to the most mysterious ruler (or the great master of the crusaders) - the Elder of the Mountain, Sheikh Hasan ibn Sabbah.

Subsequently, the European orders, imitating the assassins, adopted from them not only strict discipline and principles of promotion, but also some emblems and symbols.