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An assassination is "to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack, often for political reasons."[1][2] An additional definition is "the act of deliberately killing someone especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."

Assassinations may be prompted by religious, ideological, political, or military motives. Additionally, assassins may be prompted by financial gain, revenge, a desire to acquire status within a group, or a psychological need to garner personal public recognition.



The word assassin is derived from the word Hashshashin (Arabic: حشّاشين, also Hashishin, Hashashiyyin, or Assassins),[3] and shares its etymological roots with hashish (pronounced /hæˈʃiːʃ/ or /ˈhæʃiːʃ/; from Arabic: حشيش ḥashīsh).[4] It referred to the Nizari branch of the Ismā'īlī Shia founded by the Persian Hassan aṣ-Ṣabbaḥ during the Middle Ages. They were active in the fortress of Alamut in Iran from the 8th to the 14th centuries, and also controlled the castle of Masyaf in Syria. The group killed members of the Muslim Abbasid, Seljuq, and Christian Crusader élite for political and religious reasons.[5] Although it is commonly believed that assassins were under the influence of hashish during their killings or during their indoctrination, there is debate whether these claims have merit.[6] The Hashshashin were eradicated by the Mongol Empire in 1275.

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