The word “assassin” comes from the name “Hassan.” Per the writings of Marco Polo, in the 11th century, al-Hassan ibn-al-Sabbah gathered around him a private army. One story was that he fed his followers hashish to bring them in line, but others dispute that claim. What is known, though, is that he used his army for targeted political killings. Whether the word “assassin” is a french derivation of his name (Hassan) or the drug he was reputed to use to control his men (hashish), it’s clear that assassinations, which have been around forever, of course, live on in the English language courtesy of a Muslim killer of long ago.
Why am I waffling on? Because of a story about Britain that I’ve been following, but that Barry Rubin brings into focus. In the spring, a young woman attempted to murder a British politician because of his role in the Iraq war. Although the British press desperately tries to gloss over her religion, the woman is Muslim. Rubin has this to say about what her attempted assassination means:
Violence and murder are the main methods by which revolutionary Islamists lobby governments. Is this going to be the beginning of such attacks, which might reach the point where they have an intimidating effect? This is, of course, speculative but is worth considering.
Actually, Rubin has a lot more to say, which I urge you to read. This is an old Muslim game that’s being brought into the 21st Century. We need to pay attention.