By Paul
At the height of their power the Assassins held sway from Anatolia to Bombay and could bring down princes and Shahs alike. The Assassins were the most feared secret organisation of them all. Founded by Hassan I Sabbah in the 11th century, they were fanatical followers of Ismailis Islam which taught all actions were morally ambivalent, they originally formed in Cairo but when Hassan fell out with the Ismails sect leaders they headed for Persia and in 1090 captured the fortress Alamut.

The sect sought political power by assassination. A favourite method of doing this was using deep sleepers who would
Hassan-i Sabbah, founder of the Assassins
Hassan-i Sabbah, founder of the Assassins
infiltrate the target for several years and befriend him before the assassination. The power of the movement rapidly spread west and in Syria they assassinated two Kalifs.

In 1163 the then Assassin ruler Mohammed II entered into negations with the crusaders and tried to end Islam in the Assassin’s lands. Shortly after 3 assassins were dispatched to kill Saladin. The failure of the attempt was to make them a mortal and powerful enemy and in 1176 Saladin retaliated invading their lands and decimating them. The Assassins on the back foot came to a truce with Saladin and agreed to stop trying to assassinate him.

The Assassins continued as a potent force in Persia and Syria but a series of weak leaders stemmed any possibility of further expansion until the Mongol invasion when the Mongols kidnapped and killed there leader and took their lands.

In 1260 the Malmuks repulsed the Mongols and they revived the remains of the order under Egyptian control as the ‘Arrows of the Sultan’ where they continued to survive in neutered form for a few centuries.