Assassination is the targeted
murderof a high-profile person. [ [http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=assassin Assassin] (from Wordnet, Princeton University)] An added distinction between assassination and other forms of killing is that the "assassin" (one who performs an assassination) usually has an ideological or political motivation, though many assassins (especially those not part of an organization) also demonstrate insanity. Other motivations may be money( contract killing), revenge, or a military operation.
The assassination euphemism targeted killing (or extrajudicial punishment / execution) is also used for the government-sanctioned killing of opponents." [http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/mar/25/20040325-091452-7923r/ Commentary: Targeted killing...] " - Cohen, Ariel, "
Washington Post", Thursday 25 March 2004] 'Assassination' itself, along with terms such as 'terrorist' and ' freedom fighter', may in this context be considered a loaded term, as it implies an act in which the proponents of such killings may consider them justified or even necessary.
"Assassination" may also be used as a form of "
hyperbole", as in the phrase "character assassination," meaning an attempt to impugn another's character, and thus kill, or "assassinate" his reputation and credibility.
The term 'Assassin' derives from
Hashshashin, ["American Speech" - McCarthy, Kevin M.. Volume 48, pp. 77–83] a militant IsmailiPersian Muslim sect, active in the Northern parts of Iran (Alamout) from the eighth to the fourteenth centuries. This mystic secret societykilled members of the Abbasidand Seljuq élite for political and religious reasons. [Secret Societies Handbook, Michael Bradley,Altair Cassell Illustrated, 2005. ISBN 978-1844034161]
It is popularly believed that the assassins were under the influence of
hashishand opiumduring their killings or during their indoctrination, and that "assassin" derives from "hasishin", the influence of the drugs. However, most Islamic scholars now think this unlikely, and favour the etymology of "assassiyun", meaning people who were faithful to the foundation ("assass") of the Muslim faith. [The Idler issue 41: The Quite Interesting Issue, Tom Hodgkinson (Ed.), Ebury Press 2008. ISBN 978-0-09-192301-3] Another possibility is that they were named "hassansin", after their leader, Hassan-i-Sabah. "Hashishinnya" was a term used by Muslims and Mongolians to characterize this cult.
The earliest known literary use of the term "assassination" is in "
The Tragedy of Macbeth" by William Shakespeare(1605). ["Assassination". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, second edition, 1989] [Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language, Seth Lerer, 2007]
The definition of "assassination" varies among sources. "The
American Heritage Dictionary" defines "to assassinate" thus:
murder[a prominent person] by surprise attack, as for political reasons"; [ [http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=assassination Assassination] (from the American Heritage Dictionary)] however, the Oxford English Dictionary's definition is:
:"The action of assassinating; the taking the life of any one by treacherous violence, esp. by a hired emissary, or one who has taken upon him to execute the deed." [Cited from - "Assassination".
Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, second edition, 1989.]
There is dispute whether the term assassination should include killings wherein the primary motivation is attracting attention to a political cause, and wherein the victim is of secondary importance (and might be famous, but unrelated to the dispute, or even an unknown). This leads to a number of possible definitions - which may however not all apply in any specific case:
*the killing of someone "by treacherous violence"
*the killing of someone "in the public view" (i.e. someone notable)
*the killing of someone "for political, moral, or ideological reasons"
For the purposes of this article, the third definition predominates, even though the second is often used, and the first would often be found in colloquial use.
Use in history
Ancient to medieval times
Assassination is one of the oldest tools of
power politics, dating back at least as far as recorded history. Perhaps the earliest recorded instance is the murder around 586 BCE of Gedaliah, described by Jeremiahand lamented by Jews to this day in the Fast of Gedaliah. Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesarcan be noted as famous victims. Emperors of Romeoften met their end in this way, as did many of the Shia Imams. The practice was also well-known in ancient China. An example of this is Jing Ke's failed assassination of Qin Shi Huang. The ancient Indian military adviser Chanakyawrote about assassinations in detail in his political treatise " Arthashastra".
Middle Ages, regicidewas rare, but with the Renaissance, tyrannicide– or assassination for personal or political reasons - became more common again. The reigns of French kings Henry III and Henry IV, and William the Silentof the Netherlandsended with assassination.
In modern history
As the world moved into the modern day, the killing of important people began to become more than a tool in power struggles between rulers themselves, and was also used for political symbolism, such as in the
propaganda of the deed. In Russia alone, four emperors were assassinated within less than 200 years: Ivan VI, Peter III, Paul I, and Alexander II.
Europethe assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinandby Serbian nationalist insurgents is blamed for igniting World War Iafter a succession of minor conflicts, while belligerents on both sides in World War IIused operatives specifically trained for assassination. Reinhard Heydrichwas killed by Czech partisankillers, and knowledge from decoded transmissions allowed the U.S. to carry out a targeted attack, killing Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamotowhile he was travelling by airplane. Adolf Hitler, meanwhile, was almost killed by his own officers, and survived various attempts by other persons and organizations (such as Operation Foxley, though this plan was never put into practice). India's "Father of the Nation", Mohandas K. Gandhi, was shot to death on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Godse, for what Godse perceived as his betrayal of the Hinducause in attempting to seek peacebetween Hindus and Muslims. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/50664.stm BBC World: The life and death of Mahatma Gandhi] Retrieved on 2008- 01-02] In the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, Jr., oppositionleader and top critic of Ferdinand Marcos, was shot dead by alleged assassin Rolando Galmanas he arrived at Manila International Airportfrom a three-year exile in the United States, with the death sometimes hailed as the catalystof the 1986 People Power Revolutionthat toppled Marcos' 20-year dictatorship.Fact|date=August 2008
Cold War and beyond
Cold War, there was a dramatic new increase in the number of political assassinations, likely due to the ideological polarization of most of the First and Second worlds, whose adherents were often more than willing to both justify and finance such killings.Fact|date=June 2008 Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Ministerof Pakistanwas assassinated by Saad Akbar, a lone assassin in 1951. Conspiracy theorists believe his conflict with certain members of the Pakistani military (Rawalpindi conspiracy) or suppression of Communists and antagonism towards the Soviet Union, were potential reasons for his assassination.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee chaired by Senator
Frank Church(the Church Committee) reported in 1975 that it had found "concrete evidence of at least eight plots involving the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro from 1960 to 1965." [ [http://www.history-matters.com/archive/church/reports/ir/html/ChurchIR_0043a.htm Church Committee - Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders Part III.B, page 71] (from the 'history-matters.com' website. Accessed 2008- 08-22.)]
Most major powers were not long in repudiating Cold War assassination tactics, though many allege that this was merely a smokescreen for political benefit and that covert and illegal training of assassins continues today, with
Russia, Israel, and other nations accused of still regularly engaging in such operations. In 1986, U.S. President Ronald Reagan(who survived an assassination attempt himself) ordered the Operation El Dorado Canyonair raid on Libyain which one of the primary targets was the home residence of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi escaped unharmed; however, his adopted daughter Hanna was one of the civilian casualties.
Philippines, the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.triggered the eventual downfall of the 20-year autocratic rule of President Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino, a former Senator and a leading figure of the political opposition, was assassinated in 1983 at the Manila International Airport(now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport) upon returning home from exile. His death thrust his widow, Corazon Aquino, into the limelight and, ultimately, the presidency following the peaceful 1986 EDSA Revolution.
On December 8, 1980 in
New York Cityformer Beatle and Musician John Lennonwas assassinated by a deranged fan Mark David Chapman. Some speculate Lennon was neutralized due to his out-spoken activism and political views. Nearly 20 years after Lennon's Assassination, former Beatle George Harrisonhad a assassination attempt on his life. On December 30, 1999 Michael Abram broke into the Harrisons' home and stabbed George multiple times, ultimately puncturing his lung. Harrison would soon recover from the attack.
On August 17, 1988 President of
PakistanGen. M. Zia ul Haqdied along with his staff and the American Ambassador to Pakistan when his C-130transport plane exploded in mid-air after taking off from Bahawalpurbecause of an on-board bomb. The CIA, KGB and Indian secret service RAW all have been implicated by various conspiracy theorists.Who|date=August 2008
Various dictators around the world, such as
Saddam Hussein, have also used assassination to remove individual opponents, or to terrorize troublesome populationgroups.Fact|date=April 2007 In return, in post-Saddam Iraq, the Shiite-dominated government has used death squads to perform countless extrajudicial executions of SunniIraqis, with some alleging that the death squads were trained by the U.S. [" [http://www.newsweek.com/id/47986 "The Salvador Option" - The Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq] " - " Newsweek", Friday 14 January 2005] [" [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/10/04/eveningnews/main2064668.shtml CBS: Death Squads In Iraqi Hospitals] " - "CBS Evening News", Wednesday 4 October 2006] [" [http://www.democracynow.org/2005/12/1/is_the_u_s_training_iraqi Is the U.S. Training Iraqi Death Squads to Fight the Insurgency?] " - " Democracy Now", Thursday, December 1, 2005]
India, Prime Ministers Indira Gandhiand Rajiv Gandhi(neither of whom were related to Mohandas Gandhi), were assassinated in 1984 and 1991. The assassinations were linked to separatistmovements in Punjab and northern Sri Lanka, respectively.
Israel, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabinwas assassinated on November 4, 1995. Yigal Amirconfessed and was convicted of the crime. Many questions were subsequently raised about the actual cause of and rationale for his death.
Lebanon, the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Haririon February 14, 2005, prompted an investigation by the United Nations. The suggestions in the resulting Mehlis report, that there was Syrian involvement, prompted the Cedar Revolutionwhich drove Syrian troops out of Lebanon.
Pakistan, former prime minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhuttowas assassinated in 2007, while in the process of running for re-election. Bhutto's assassination drew unanimous condemnation from the international community. ["Benazir Bhutto shot dead at suicide bombing of rally; 20 feared dead" - " The Canadian Press", Thursday 27 December 2007]
As military doctrine
Assassination for military purposes has long been espoused -
Sun Tzu, writing around 500 B.C., argued in favor of using assassination in his book " The Art of War". Nearly 2000 years later Machiavelli also argued assassination could be useful in his book " The Prince". In medieval times, an army and even a nation might be based upon and around a particularly strong, canny or charismatic leader, whose loss could paralyze the ability of both to make war. However, in modern warfare a soldier's mindset is generally considered to surround ideals far more than specific leaders, while command structures are more flexible in replacing officer losses. While the death of a popular or successful leader often has a detrimental effect on morale, the organisational system and the belief in a specific cause is usually strong enough to enable continued warfare.
There is also the risk that the target could be replaced by an even more competent leader or that such a killing (or a failed attempt) will "
martyr" a leader and support his cause (by showing the moral ruthlessness of the assassins). Faced with particularly brilliant leaders, this possibility has in various instances been risked, such as in the attempts to kill the Athenian Alcibiadesduring the Peloponnesian War. There are a number of additional examples from World War IIwhich show how assassination was used as a military tool at both tactical and strategic levels:
*The American interception of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's airplane during World War II, after his travel route had been decrypted.
*The American perception that Skorzeny's
commandos were planning to assassinate Eisenhower during the Battle of the Bulgeplayed havoc with Eisenhower's personal plans for some time, though it did not affect the battle itself. Skorzeny later denied in an interview with "The New York Times"Fact|date=February 2007 that he had ever intended to assassinate Eisenhower during Operation Greifand he said that he could prove it."Commando Extraordinary" - Foley, Charles; Legion for the Survival of Freedom, 1992, page 155]
Use of assassination has continued in more recent conflicts:
Vietnam War, partly in response to Viet Congassassinations of government leaders, the USA engaged in the Phoenix Programto assassinate Viet Cong leaders and sympathizers, and killed between 6,000 and 41,000 persons, with official 'targets' of 1,800 per month. [" [http://www.serendipity.li/cia/operation_phoenix.htm CIA and Operation Phoenix in Vietnam] " - McGehee, Ralph; from a usenetdiscussion citing numerous references, 19 February 1996]
*From 1991 till 2006, Russia targeted the top commanders of the separatist groups they were fighting in
Chechenya, killing several of them (including Aslan Maskhadovand Shamil Basayev)
*During World War II, underground factions sympathizing with the Allies were known to assassinate rival underground leaders to ensure their chances of governing their nation upon liberation from the Axis, as opposed to their rivals. Naturally, the reason given to the assassin would be that the rival leader was an Axis sympathizer.
*In the Global
War on Terrorism, American special operations forces and intelligence agencies employed manhunting [ [http://www.analyst-network.com/profile.php?user_id=408 George A. Crawford] , "", 2008, ISBN 1-60441-332-8] operations against key opponents and Al Qaedaterrorist leaders.
As tool of insurgents
Insurgent groups have often employed assassination as a tool to further their causes. Assassinations provide several functions for such groups, namely the removal of specific enemies and as propaganda tools to focus the attention of media and politics on their cause.
Irish Republican Armyguerrillas of 1919–1921 assassinated many RIC Police Intelligence officers during the Irish War of Independence. Michael Collins set up a special unit - the Squad - for this purpose, which had the effect of intimidating many policemen into resigning from the force. The Squad's activities peaked with the assassination of 14 British agents in Dublinon Bloody Sunday in 1920.
This tactic was used again by the
Provisional IRAduring the Troublesin Northern Ireland(1969-present). Assassination of RUC officers and politicians was one of a 2 number of methods used in the Provisional IRA campaign 1969-1997. The IRA also attempted to assassinate British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcherby bombing the Conservative Party Conference in a Brightonhotel. Loyalist paramilitaries retaliated by killing Catholics at random and assassinating Irish nationalistpoliticians.
ETAin Spainhave assassinated many security and political figures since the late 1960s, notably Luis Carrero Blancoin 1973. Since the early 1990s, they have also targeted academics, journalists and local politicians who publicly disagreed with them, meaning that many needed armed police bodyguards.
Red Brigadesin Italycarried out assassinations of political figures, as to a lesser extent, did the Red Army Factionin Germanyin the 1970s and 1980s. Middle Eastern groups, such as the PLOand Hezbollah, have all engaged in assassinations, though the higher intensity of armed conflict in the region compared to western Europe means that many of their actions are either better characterized as guerrillaoperations or as random attacks on civilians - especially the technique of suicide bombs.
Vietnam War, assassinations were routinely carried out by communist insurgents against government officials and individual civilians deemed to offend or rival the revolutionary movement. Such attacks, along with widespread military activity by insurgent bands, almost brought the Diemregime to collapse before the US intervention. ["Viet Cong" - Pike, Douglas, The MIT Press; New Ed edition, Wednesday 16 December 1970]
For money or gain
Individually, too, people have often found reasons to arrange the deaths of others through paid intermediaries. One who kills with no political motive or group loyalty, "only" for money, is known as a hitman, or contract killer. Note that by the definition accepted above, while such a killer is not, strictly speaking, an assassin, if the killing is ordered and financed towards a political end, then that killing must rightly be termed an assassination, and the hitman an assassin by extension.
Entire organizations have sometimes specialized in assassination as one of their services, to be gained for the right price. Besides the original
hashshashin, the ninjaclans of Japanwere rumored to perform assassinations, though it can be pointed out that most of what was ever known about the ninja was rumorand hearsay.
United States, Murder, Inc., an organization partnered to the Mafia, was formed for the sole purpose of performing assassinations for organized crime. In Russia, the "vory" (thieves), Russian organised crime syndicates, are often known to provide assassinations for the right price, as well as engaging in it themselves for their own purposes. A professional hitman is called "cleaner" in Russia; he is used to clean away the target. The Finnish as well as the Swedish underworld uses the word " torpedo" for a contract killer.
For racist reasons
Racist groups have often employed assassination as a tool to further their causes. In the
United Statesin 1968 Afro-American Baptist minister and civil rights activist Martin Luther Kingwas assassinated after having become the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his work to end segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. Another black minister, Malcolm X, was also assassinated.
The use of assassinations for political or military reasons by sovereign states is an extremely contentious subject, with opinions ranging from people considering it a legitimate form of defense, especially against non-state actors like terror groups, to people calling targeted killings
state terrorismitself. Both those for and against targeted killings are also often faced with accusations of being clearly partisan to one side of the particular struggle discussed.
*Pro: Various groups and individuals have supported assassinations such as those undertaken by Israel against opposed terror groups, claiming that the killing of people like Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is justified due to the fact that people like him provide "both religious and political cover" (for terrorist groups to operate), and that the fact that they may not have been physically involved in such crimes does not reduce their role. However, even they sometimes question the tactical prudence of such actions, while arguing that the killings may produce leadership vacuums and disorganise their organisations. ["cite web |url=http://www.defenddemocracy.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=218872 |title= The Targeted Killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20071212080743/http://www.defenddemocracy.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=218872 |archivedate=2007-12-12" - Snow, Jonathan L.,
Foundation for Defense of Democraciespolicy institute, Washington DC, United States, March 26, 2004] They also oppose the use of the term assassination, as it denotes murder, where targeting such leaders is seen as a move in self-defence, and thus killing, but not a crime." [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/03/26/EDGK65QPC41.DTL Targeted killing is a necessary option] " - Sofaer, Abraham D., Hoover Institution, Friday 26 March 2004] Some even argue that targeted killing should be continued for ' retributionand revenge', even though they accept that the killing has little effect on the number and severity of terrorist attacks, or may even increase them in the short and mid-term. [" [http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/david.pdf Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing] " - David, Steven R. ; Johns Hopkins University, United States, 2002]
*Contra: Criticism of targeted killings focuses on a number of aspects, from being claimed to be against
international lawto being destabilising to local situations and thus causing more violence, [" [http://en.epochtimes.com/news/4-4-18/20983.html Israel's Targeted Killings Threaten Peace in Entire Region, say Arab Leaders] " - " Epoch Times", 18 April 2004] an opinion also held by such intermediaries as Álvaro de Soto, former UN Middle East peace envoy. [" [http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2006-03/07/article02.shtml Palestinian PM-designate Not Immune: Mofaz] " - 'Islam Online' website] Criticism often also focuses on the murder of innocent victims of the more heavy-handed or failed targeted killings, in which civilians are often murdered in large numbers, such as the indiscriminate Israeli bombing of Lebanon in 2006 which produced thousands of murdered and wounded Lebanese civilians. [" [http://www.mediamonitors.net/mosaddeq22.html Israeli Terrorism doesn't make News] " - Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Media Monitors Network, 02 December 2001]
Targeted killings are also sometimes called '
extrajudicial punishment', [http://www.meforum.org/article/515 The Logic of Israel's Targeted Killing] " - Luft, Gale; "Middle East Quarterly", Volume X: Number 1, Winter 2003] though some states require some form of judicial trial in absentiabefore such an undertaking.
A major study about assassination attempts in the US in the second half of the 20th century came to the conclusion that most prospective assassins spend copious amounts of time planning and preparing for their attempts. Assassinations are thus rarely a case of 'impulsive' action.
However, about 25% of the actual attackers were found to be
delusional, a figure that rose to 60% with 'near-lethal approachers' (people apprehended before reaching their target). This incidentally shows that while mental instability plays a role in many modern-age assassinations, the more delusional attackers are less likely to succeed in their attempt. The report also found that around two thirds of the attackers had previously been arrested for (not necessarily related) offenses, that around 44% had a history of serious depression, and that 39% had a history of substance abuse.
It seems likely that the first assassinations would have been direct and simple:
stabbing, strangling or bludgeoning. Substantial planning or coordination would rarely have been involved, as tribal groups were too small, and the connection to the leaders too close. As civilizationtook root, however, leaders began to have greater importance, and become more detached from the groups they ruled. This would have brought planning, subterfuge and weapons into successful assassination plans.Fact|date=February 2007
The key technique was likely
infiltration, with the actual assassination by stabbing, smothering or strangulation. Poisons also started to be used in many forms. Death capmushrooms and similar plants became a traditional choice of assassins especially if they could not be perceived as poisonous by taste, and the symptoms of the poisoning did not show until after some time.Fact|date=February 2007
In ancient Rome, paid mobs were sometimes used to beat political enemies to death.Fact|date=April 2008
With the advent of effective
ranged weaponry, and later firearms, the position of an assassination target was more precarious. Bodyguards were no longer enough to hold back determined killers, who no longer needed to directly engage or even subvert the guard to kill the leader in question. Moreover, the engagement of targets at greater distance dramatically increased the chances for an assassin's survival. It is considered that William the Silentof the Netherlandswas the first leader assassinated by firearms (July 10, 1584). Gunpowderand other explosives also allowed the use of bombs or even greater concentrations of explosives for deeds requiring a larger touch; for an example, the Gunpowder Plotcould have 'assassinated' almost a thousand people had it not been foiled.
Explosives, especially the
car bomb, become far more common in modern history, with grenades and remote-triggered landmines also used, especially in the Middle Eastand Balkans (the initial attempt on Archduke Franz Ferdinand's life was with a grenade). With heavy weapons, the rocket propelled grenade(RPG) has became a useful tool given the popularity of armored cars (discussed below), while Israeli forces have pioneered the use of aircraft-mounted missiles for assassination, [" [http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/04/17/mideast.violence/index.html Hamas leader killed in Israeli airstrike] " - CNN, Saturday 17 April 2004] as well as the innovative use of explosive devices.
sniperwith a precision rifle is often used in fictional assassinations. However, there are certain difficulties associated with long-range shooting, including finding a hidden shooting position with a clear line-of-sight, detailed advance knowledge of the intended victim's travel plans, the ability to identify the target at long range, and the ability to score a first-round lethal hit at long range, usually measured in hundreds of meters. A dedicated sniper rifleis also expensive and hard to acquire, often costing thousands of dollars because of the high level of precision machining and hand-finishing required to achieve extreme accuracy." [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1542559/Iraqi-insurgents-using-Austrian-rifles-from-Iran.html Iraqi insurgents using Austrian rifles from Iran] " - The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 13 February 2007]
Despite their comparative disadvantages, easy-to-acquire and hard-to-trace
handguns are much more commonly used than rifles. Of 74 principal incidents evaluated in a major study about assassination attempts in the US in the second half of the 20th century, 51% were undertaken by a handgun, 30% with a rifle or shotgun, while 15% of the attempts used knives and 8% explosives (usage of multiple weapons/methods was reported in 16% of all cases).
A 2006 case in the UK concerned the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko who was given a lethal dose of radioactive
polonium-210, possibly passed to him in aerosol form sprayed directly onto his food. Litvinenko, a former KGBagent, had been granted asylum in the UK in 2000 after citing persecution in Russia. Shortly before his death he issued a statement accusing Vladimir Putin, who was the Russian presidentat the time, of involvement in his assassination. President Putin denies he had any part in Litvinenko's death. [" [http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Sky-News-Archive/Article/20082851241951 Putin 'Deplores' Spy Death] " - Sky NewsFriday 24 November 2006]
One of the earliest forms of defense against assassins is without doubt the
bodyguard. He acts as a shield for the potential target, keeps lookout for potential attackers (sometimes in advance, for example on a planned tour), and is literally supposed to put himself 'in harm's way' - both by his simple presence, forming a barrier in front of the target" [http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ntac_jfs.pdf Assassination in the United States: An Operational Study] " - Fein, Robert A. & Vossekuil, Brian, " Journal of Forensic Sciences", Volume 44, Number 2, March 1999] [ [http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/warren-commission-report/appendix7.html Lincoln] - Appendix 7, Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, 1964] and by shielding the target during any attack. He is also, if possible, to neutralize an attacker as fast as possible, and thus often carries weapons (where legal or possible).
This bodyguard function was often executed by the leader's most loyal warriors, and was extremely effective throughout most of early human history, leading to attempts by subterfuge, such as poison (which was answered by the
Notable examples of bodyguards would include the Roman
Praetorian Guardor the Ottoman janissaries - although, in both cases, it should be noted that the protectors often became assassins themselves, exploiting their power to make the head of statea virtual hostage at their whim or eliminating threatening leaders altogether. The fidelity of individual bodyguards is an important question as well, especially for leaders who oversee states with strong ethnic or religious divisions. Failure to realize such divided loyalties leads to assassinations such as that of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, assassinated by two Sikhbodyguards in 1984.
With the advent of gunpowder, ranged assassination (via bombs or firearms) became possible. One of the first reactions was to simply increase the guard, creating what at times might seem a small army trailing every leader; another was to begin clearing large areas whenever a leader was present, to the point where entire sections of a city might be shut down.
As the 20th century dawned, the prevalence of assassins and their capabilities skyrocketed, and so did measures to protect against them. For the first time, armored cars or
armored limousines were put into service for safer transport, with modern versions rendering them virtually invulnerable to small armsfire and smaller bombs and mines. [" [http://www.alpha-armouring.com/bulletproof/cars.php How to choose the appropriate bulletproof cars] " (from Alpha-armouring.com website, includes examples of protection levels available)] Bulletproof vests also began to be used, though they were of limited utility, restricting movement and leaving the head unprotected - as such they tended to be worn only during high-profile public events if at all.
Access to famous persons, too, became more and more restrictive; [http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/warren-commission-report/appendix7.html The Need For Protection Further Demonstrated] - Appendix 7, Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, 1964] potential visitors would be forced through numerous different checks before being granted access to the official in question, and as
communicationbecame better and information technologymore prevalent, it has become all but impossible for a would-be killer to get close enough to the personage at work or in private life to effect an attempt on his or her life, especially given the common use of metal and bomb detectors.
Most modern assassinations have been committed either during a public performance or during
transport, both because of weaker security and security lapses, such as with US President John F. Kennedyand former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, or as part of coups d'état where security is either overwhelmed or completely removed, such as with Patrice Lumumbaand likely Salvador Allende. [ [http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761554059/Allende_Gossens_Salvador.html Salvador Allende Gossens] (biography from the Encartawebsite)]
The methods used for protection by famous people have sometimes evoked negative reactions by the public, with some resenting the separation from their officials or major figures. One example might be traveling in a car protected by a bubble of clear
bulletproof glass, such as the Popemobileof PopeJohn Paul II (built following an extremist's attempt at his life). Politicians themselves often resent this need for separation - which has at times caused tragedy when they sent their bodyguards from their side for personal or publicity reasons, as U.S. President William McKinleydid during the public reception at which he was assassinated.
Other potential targets go into seclusion, and are rarely heard from or seen in public, such as
writer Salman Rushdie. A related form of protection is the use of body doubles, a person built similar to the person he is expected to impersonate. These persons are then made up, as well as in some cases altered to look like the target, with the body double then taking the place of the person in high risk situations. Saddam Hussein is known to have used body doubles." [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,41210,00.html It's Bin Laden ... or Is It?] " - Fox News, Thursday 20 December 2001] According to Joe R. Reeder, a former under secretary for the U.S. Army from 1993–1997 writing in Fox News, Fidel Castrohad also used body doubles, though no details were specified.
In the final analysis, countermeasures can never be fully effective. If the assassin is committed beyond reason (i.e. insane) or without concern for his own for self-preservation (
suicide attacker), then the task of protecting a person will be made much more difficult.
List of famous assassinations and assassination attempts
List of assassins
List of assassinated people
List of U.S. Presidential assassination attempts
List of unsuccessful assassinations
Assassinations in fiction
* [http://www.assassinology.org/ Assassinology.org] a website dedicated to the study of assassination
CNN[http://www.cnn.com/2002/LAW/11/04/us.assassination.policy A short article on the U.S. policy banning political assassination since 1976] from CNN.com/Law CENTER, November 4, 2002. See also Ford's 1976 [http://www.ford.utexas.edu/library/speeches/760110e.htm#assassination executive order] . However, Executive Order 12333which prohibited the CIA from assassinations was relaxed by the George W. Bush administration.
* Kretzmer, David "cite web |url=http://www.ejil.org/journal/Vol16/No2/art1.pdf |title= Targeted Killing of Suspected Terrorists: Extra-Judicial Executions or Legitimate Means of Defence? |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20080307150752/http://www.ejil.org/journal/Vol16/No2/art1.pdf |archivedate=2008-03-07" (PDF)
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