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The term assassin was brought to Europe by the Crusaders (see Crusaders Of The Middle Ages) who used it in reference to an Islamic sect in Syria and "Palestine" (see Palestine) who considered the murder of those they regarded as their religious enemies (i.e. to them, anyone who believed anything other than the teachings of Mohammad - see Islam) their "sacred duty." The English word assassin is derived from the Arabic word hashishi, meaning "hashish eater" - they often used hashish before they committed their acts of terrorism.

While the ancient meaning is still at least partly accurate today (e.g. the man who assassinated US Senator and Presidential-candidate Robert Kennedy in 1968 was Islamic and Palestinian-born), the modern-day usage of the term is generally used for anyone who murders a political (e.g. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin) or religious (e.g. Rabbi Meir Kahane in Brooklyn, Mahatma Ghandi in India) leader by surprise assault. One of the foremost assassins of the present day is Osama bin Laden (shown in the illustration) who planned and commanded the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US (of which many people from other nations were also murdered e.g. there were 26 Canadians killed in the World Trade Center Towers in New York, and 2 Canadians, a woman and her baby, went down in the airliner in Pennsylvania) - a mass murderer who is today on the run and living in dread of the day when he is going to be caught in the crosshairs, either by the troops who will never stop pursuing him, or by one of his own associates who will eventually betray him for the bounty on his head.

Assassinations In The Bible

Osama bin Laden

During Bible History, the Kings of Israel and Judah, and others, were justifiably concerned with the possibility of assassination. Some examples:

King Joash of Judah was assassinated by his own servants:

"And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? [see also Israelite Dynasties] And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla. For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead" (2 Kings 12:19-21 KJV)

Joab assassinated Abner:

"And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, which brought him again from the well of Sirah: but David knew it not. And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. And afterward when David heard it, he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless before The Lord for ever from the blood of Abner the son of Ner" (2 Samuel 3:26-28 KJV)

After failing to conquer Jerusalem, King Sennacherib of Assyria was assassinated by his own sons:

"And The Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria [see The Day Sennacherib Challenged God]. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword." (2 Chronicles 32:21 KJV)

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