Do you know:

  • What does assassinate mean in English?
  • Where does the word come from?

The word ‘assassin’ means zamachowiec, zabójca, ‘assassination’ zamach, morderstwo.

The term assassin was brought to Europe by crusaders when they returned from Holy Land. A lot of stories and legends have been said about this mysterious group and surround them up till today.

The history of the sect begins in 1090. The Assassins were a sect of Shi’ti Muslims.

The Assassins made a number of changes in the doctrine they followed. One of them was permission granted to them to murder their enemies. They become famous for their strategy of killing unexpectedly and secretly. When someone became their foe he could never be safe. The sect sent secret killers after him. The Assassins were very patient. Sometimes they waited for years to carry out their deed. The Assassins very often sacrificed their life in action committing suicide when it could help their cause or in the event of capture.

The Assassins had many strongholds all over Persia and Iraq. The most famous was Alamut.

People did not know how to explain the fanatic devotion of the sect members so it was said that in their strongholds the Assassins were given hashish as part of their training to make them resistant to pain and fear.

According to the legend because of the drugs, they were ready for everything they were ordered to do. As a result of this belief the name of the sect was derived from Arabic word hasziszijjun – meaning people who smoke hashish. As crusaders spoke mainly French (where ‘ h’ is a silent letter) they dropped ‘h’ when talking about the sect hence the word- assassins.

But in reality the Assassins did not smoke hashish. They were too well organized and trained. They had network of agents and spies all over medieval Persia and Iraq. The assassinations were done by trained agents not by drug addicts.

The Assassins strongholds were captured by the Mongols and by the Mameluke sultan in the 13th century. The sect was destroyed. But the word assassin still exists in many languages (e.g. English, French, and Italian) and means killing and terrorism.