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Such plans must be modified frequently to meet changes in the tactical situation. The essential point of assassination is the death of the subject. A human being may be killed in many ways but sureness is often overlooked by those who may be emotionally unstrung by the seriousness of this act they intend to commit. The spe cific technique employed will depend upon a large number of variables, but should be constant in one point: Death must be absolutely certain.

The attempt on Hitler's life failed because the conspiracy did not give this matter proper attention. It is possible to kill a man with the bare hands, but very few are skillful enough to do it well. Even a highly trained Judo expert will hesitate to risk killing by hand unless he has absolutely no alternative. However, the simplest local tools a re often much the most efficient means of assassination.

A hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice. A length of rope or wire or a belt will do if the assassin is strong and agile. All such improvised weapons have the important advantage of availability and apparent innocence. The obviously lethal machine gun failed to kill Trotsky where an item of sporting goods succeeded.

In all safe cases where the assassin may be subject to search, either before or after the act, specialized weapons should not be used. Even in the lost case, the assassin may accidentally be searched before the act and should not carry an incrimin ating device if any sort of lethal weapon can be improvised at or near the site.

If the assassin normally carries weapons because of the nature of his job, it may still be desirable to improvise and implement at the scene to avoid disclosure of his ident ity. For secret assassination, either simple or chase, the contrived accident is the most effective technique. When successfully executed, it causes little excitement and is only casually investigated. The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface. Elevator shafts, stair wells, unscreened windows and bridges will serve. Bridge falls into water are not reliable.

In simple cases a private meeting with the subject may be arranged at a properly-cased location. The act may be executed by sudden, vigorous [excised] of the ankles, tipping the subject over the edge. If the assassin immediately sets up an outcry, playing the "horrified wit ness", no alibi or surreptitious withdrawal is necessary.

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In chase cases it will usually be necessary to stun or drug the subject before dropping him. Care is required to insure that no wound or condition not attributable to the fall is discernible after death. Falls into the sea or swiftly flowing rivers may suffice if the subject cannot swim. It will be more reliable if the assassin can arrange to attempt rescue, as he can thus be sure of the subject's death and at the same time establish a workable al ibi. If the subject's personal habits make it feasible, alcohol may be used [2 words excised] to prepare him for a contrived accident of any kind.

Falls before trains or subway cars are usually effective, but require exact timing and can seldom be free from unexpected observation. Automobile accidents are a less satisfactory means of assassination. If the subject is deliberately run down, very exact timing is necessary and investigation is likely to be thorough. If the subject's car is tampered with, reliability is very lo w. The subject may be stunned or drugged and then placed in the car, but this is only reliable when the car can be run off a high cliff or into deep water without observation. Arson can cause accidental death if the subject is drugged and left in a burning building.

Reliability is not satisfactory unless the building is isolated and highly combustible. In all types of assassination except terroristic, drugs can be very effective. If the assassin is trained as a doctor or nurse and the subject is under medical care, this is an easy and rare method.

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An overdose of morphine administered as a sedat ive will cause death without disturbance and is difficult to detect. The size of the dose will depend upon whether the subject has been using narcotics regularly. If not, two grains will suffice. If the subject drinks heavily, morphine or a similar narcotic can be injected at the passing out stage, and the cause of death will often be held to be acute alcoholism.

Specific poisons, such as arsenic or strychine, are effective but their possession or procurement is incriminating, and accurate dosage is problematical. Poison was used unsuccessfully in the assassination of Rasputin and Kolohan, though the latte r case is more accurately described as a murder. Any locally obtained edge device may be successfully employed. A certain minimum of anatomical knowledge is needed for reliability. Puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached.

The heart is protected by the rib cage and is not always easy to locate. Abdominal wounds were once nearly always mortal, but modern medical treatment has made this no longer true. Absolute reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical region. This can be done with the point of a knife or a light blow of an axe or hatchet. Another reliable method is the severing of both jugular and carotid blood vessels on both sides of the windpipe.

If the subject has been rendered unconscious by other wounds or drugs, either of the above methods can be used to insure death.

As with edge weapons, blunt weapons require some anatomical knowledge for effective use. Their main advantage is their universal availability. A hammer may be picked up almost anywhere in the world. Baseball and [illeg] bats are very widely dist ributed. Even a rock or a heavy stick will do, and nothing resembling a weapon need be procured, carried or subsequently disposed of.

Blows should be directed to the temple, the area just below and behind the ear, and the lower, rear portion of the skull. Of course, if the blow is very heavy, any portion of the upper skull will do. The lower frontal portion of the head, from th e eyes to the throat, can withstand enormous blows without fatal consequences. Firearms are often used in assassination, often very ineffectively.

The assassin usually has insufficient technical knowledge of the limitations of weapons, and expects more range, accuracy and killing power than can be provided with reliability. Firearms have other drawbacks. Their possession is often incriminating. They may be difficult to obtain. They require a degree of experience from the user. They are [illeg]. Their [illeg] is consistently over-rated. However, there are many cases in which firearms are probably more efficient than any other means. These cases usually involve distance between the assassin and the subject, or comparative physical weakness of the assassin, as with a woman.

In guarded assassination, a good hunting or target rifle should always be considered as a possibility. Absolute reliability can nearly always be achieved at a distance of one hundred yards. In ideal circumstances, t he range may be extended to yards. The rifle should be a well made bolt or falling block action type, handling a powerful long-range cartridge. Magnum is probably the best cartridge readily available. Other excellent calibers are. These are preferable to ordinary military calibers, since ammunition available for them is usually of the expanding bullet type, whereas most ammunition for military rifles is full jacketed and hence not sufficiently let hal.

Military ammunition should not be altered by filing or drilling bullets, as this will adversely affect accuracy. The rifle may be of the "bull gun" variety, with extra heavy barrel and set triggers, but in any case should be capable of maximum precision. The sight should be telescopic, not only for accuracy, but because such a sight is much better in dim light or near darkness. As long as the bare outline of the target is discernable, a telescope sight will work, even if the rifle and shooter are in total darkness.

An expanding, hunting bullet of such calibers as described above will produce extravagant laceration and shock at short or mid-range.


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If a man is struck just once in the body cavity, his death is almost entirely certain. Public figures or guarded officials may be killed with great reliability and some safety if a firing point can be established prior to an official occasion.


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The propaganda value of this system may be very high. Machine guns may be used in most cases where the precision rifle is applicable. Usually, this will require. The area fire capacity of the machine gun should not be used to search out a concealed subject. This was tried with predictable lack of success on Trotsky. The automatic feature of the machine gun should rather be used to increase reliability by placing a 5 second burst on the subject. Even with full jacket ammunition, this will be absolute lethal is the burst pattern is no larger than a man.

This can be accomplished at about yards. In ideal circumstances, a properly padded and targeted ma chine gun can do it at yards. The major difficulty is placing the first burst exactly on the target, as most machine gunners are trained to spot their fire on target by observation of strike. This will not do in assassination as the subject will not wait. This weapon, known as the "machine-pistol" by the Russians and Germans and "machine-carbine" by the British, is occasionally useful in assassination.

Unlike the rifle and machine gun, this is a short range weapon and since it fires pistol ammu nition, much less powerful. To be reliable, it should deliver at least 5 rounds into the subject's chest, though the. While accurate single rounds can be delivered by sub-machine gunners at 50 yards or more, this is not certain enough for assassination. Under ordinary circumstances, the 5MG should be used as a fully automatic weapon. In the hands of a capabl e gunner, a high cyclic rate is a distinct advantage, as speed of execution is most desirable, particularly in the case of multiple subjects.

The sub-machine gun is especially adapted to indoor work when more than one subject is to be assassinated. An effective technique has been devised for the use of a pair of sub-machine gunners, by which a room containing as many as a dozen subjects can be "purifico" in about twenty seconds with little or no risk to the gunners. It is illustrated below. While the U. The Bergmann Model is particularly good in this way.

The Danish Madman? SMG has a moderately good cyclic rate and is admirably compact and concealable. The Russian SHG's have a good cyclic rate, but are handicapped by a small, light protective which requires more kits for equivalent killing effect. Associate Professor Eric Patterson and Teresa Casale write: "Perhaps most important is the legal distinction between targeted killing and assassination". On the other hand, the American Civil Liberties Union also states on its website, "A program of targeted killing far from any battlefield, without charge or trial, violates the constitutional guarantee of due process.

It also violates international law, under which lethal force may be used outside armed conflict zones only as a last resort to prevent imminent threats, when non-lethal means are not available. Targeting people who are suspected of terrorism for execution, far from any war zone, turns the whole world into a battlefield.

Clearly, lawbreakers ought to be punished. Yet, no matter how horrific their deeds, as the targeting of Israeli civilians indeed is, they should be punished according to the law. David's arguments could, in principle, justify the abolition of formal legal systems altogether". Targeted killing has become a frequent tactic of the United States and Israel in their fight against terrorism.

Countries such as the U. Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in September Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. One of the earliest forms of defense against assassins was employing bodyguards. Bodyguards act as a shield for the potential target, keeping lookout for potential attackers sometimes in advance, for example on a parade route , and putting themselves in harm's way—both by simple presence, showing that physical force is available to protect the target, [36] [61] and by shielding the target during any attack.

To neutralize an attacker, bodyguards are typically armed as much as legal and practical concerns permit. Notable examples of bodyguards include the Roman Praetorian Guard or the Ottoman Janissaries —though, in both cases, the protectors sometimes became assassins themselves, exploiting their power to make the head of state a virtual hostage or killing the very leaders they were supposed to protect.

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 led to the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi , assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards in This bodyguard function was often executed by the leader's most loyal warriors, and was extremely effective throughout most of early human history, leading assassins to attempt stealthy means, such as poison which risk was answered by having another person taste the leader's food first.

Another notable measure is the use of a body double , a person who looks like the leader and who pretends to be the leader to draw attention away from the intended target. 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 and capability of assassins grew quickly, as did measures to protect against them. For the first time, armored cars or limousines were put into service for safer transport, with modern versions virtually invulnerable to small arms fire, smaller bombs and mines. Access to famous persons, too, became more and more restricted; [63] potential visitors would be forced through numerous different checks before being granted access to the official in question, and as communication became better and information technology more 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 U. President John F. 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 MRAP -like Popemobile of Pope John Paul II , built following an attempt at his life. Politicians often resent this need for separation, sometimes sending their bodyguards away from them for personal or publicity reasons; U. President William McKinley did this at the public reception where 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 , people with similar builds to those they are expected to impersonate.

These persons are then made up , and in some cases altered to look like the target, with the body double then taking the place of the person in high risk situations. According to Joe R.


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United States Secret Service protective agents receive training in the psychology of assassins. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Assassin disambiguation and Assassination disambiguation. Main article: Hashshashin. Main article: History of assassination. See also: Cold War and War on Terror.

See also: Manhunt military. Main article: Targeted killing. Assassinations in fiction Contract killing History of assassination List of assassinations List of people who survived assassination attempts List of assassinated and executed heads of state and government List of United States presidential assassination attempts and plots Special Activities Division of the Central Intelligence Agency Firearms by assassination.

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List of events named massacres List of massacres at sea. List of genocides by death toll. Massacres Massacres by country Massacres by year. List of terrorist incidents by month and year. Authority control NARA : Categories : Attacks by method Killings by type Political crimes Assassinations. Hidden categories: Webarchive template wayback links All articles with dead external links Articles with dead external links from May Use mdy dates from November Articles containing Arabic-language text All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from December Commons category link is on Wikidata Wikipedia articles with NARA identifiers.