While Hollywood presents assassins and assassinations in various outlandish and implausible ways, they do manage to get several facts right. One of those is the fact that assassinations are usually commissioned by large shady organisations with plenty of money, secrets, and power. And what shady organisation has more money, secrets and power than the government? Governments have green-lit countless assassinations since their inception, whether its legal or not to do so. Read on for a list of ten assassinations either carried out by governments, or proxies acting in their interests.
10. Mykonos Murders
Previously, the Islamic Republic of Iran was a democracy in name only — anyone and everyone who wanted to rock the boat was shouted down or silenced permanently.
The Mykonos restaurant in Berlin was a Greek restaurant that hosted the private dining room in which several members of the Democratic party of Iranian Kurdistan ate out. On one such occasion, Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan, and their translator Nouri Dehkordihad had gone there to dine and discuss such treasonous matters as democracy and elections. The prime minister of Sweden and several other officials were to meet them as well. However, a domestic emergency had diverted their attention homewards, and so they took a rain check. The quartet was left to dine alone in what they assumed was a safe place. Little did they know that their own government had put out a hit for them and authorized their execution.
A special affairs committee had assigned the Iranian head of intelligence to eliminate the leaders of the Democratic party of Iranian Kurdistan. An agent already in Germany — Kazim Darabi — was chosen to finalize the job. He picked five men who were associated with Hezbollah and other groups and, due to extensive recon, already knew where the targets were. The men were gunned down in a hail of bullets, mafia style. Three of them died instantly, while a fourth died in the hospital.
9. Iran Chain Killings
For a period of time between the 1980’s and the late ’90s, Iran held a covert operation involving the assassination of various people who the government did not like. This list included writers, journalists, poets, politicians, professors, and anyone who so much as looked at a government official the wrong way. All this was carried out under wraps, away from the prying eyes of citizens and others.
How was this done? The government simply used ninja tactics and disguised their assassinations as muggings, burglaries gone wrong, and accidents. It was all blown open in the late 90’s with the murder of the Fourouhars. Dariush Fourouhar led the Nation of Iran party, an opposition party. He and his wife Parvaneh received a total of 35 stabs to their bodies by unknown government assassin. As if that wasn’t enough, they were severely mutilated — with Dariush losing his head and Parvaneh her breasts. This murder was highly publicized and led to a revolution against the current government. It also led to the revelation of the other assassinations previously committed by that administration.
8. Operation Nemesis
The Armenian genocide was a horrific political crime that left many dead and was denounced heavily among the international community. Several of the perpetrators initially escaped justice living under assumed names. However, as the saying goes “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword.”
In the ’20s, a mission was secretly approved by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, consisting of several survivors of the genocide who had an axe to grind. One of the targets was Talat Pasha, the man deemed most responsible for the genocide. He was located in Berlin by a team led by Soghomon Tehlirian. His movements were tracked and his daily schedule was noted down. On a cold winter day, Pasha was dropped to the sidewalk by a single shot from Soghomon’s pistol. Several other conspirators were soon cornered and executed by the ARF.
7. Operation Wrath of God
Operation Wrath of God is a relatively modern case of the Israeli people being badasses and dishing out old-fashioned, Old Testament-style justice on terrorist murderers. It all started at the 1972 Olympics, when 11 Israeli athletes were cut down by the terrorist organisations Black September and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir formed a committee and gave them orders which basically amounted to “Find them. Kill them. Bury them.”
In a ferocious show of power and zero tolerance, the terrorists were tracked down. Wael Zwaiter, one of the terrorist leaders, had moved to Rome and was carrying out his life as he wished. Unfortunately, he had no way of knowing that his every movement had been tracked and mapped by the Mossad. On his way home on October 16 1972, Zwaiter was shot dead with 11 bullets, one for each slain athlete. One of the athletes’ widows was then called anonymously by agents and told to watch the news as a way of showing her that justice was being served.
In the same brutal manner, several PLO agents were hunted down and killed for years afterwards, just to prove a point. That point being, “don’t mess with the Israelis or we’ll kill you, your family, and your little dog too.”
6. Operation Condor
The US government has been accused of several shady things in recent times including 9/11, faking the Syria attacks, and several other conspiracy theories. While several of them have proven to be true, others have been inconclusive or wildly spurious at best. This is not one of them.
Operation Condor had heavy ties to Washington. It included six South American Nations: Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, with military and intelligence help from US forces hunting down and assassinating political subversives. This secret operation was brought to being by the US’s desire to strengthen its relationship with other nations by feeding them information, no matter how democratic or otherwise the state was. It is not known how large the death toll ultimately was, but some estimates place it at about 60,000 deaths.
5. Operation Spring of Youth
Operation Spring of Youth was a spin-off operation of the aforementioned Wrath of God. This was a sub-mission launched to assassinate three high-ranking members of the PLO. As with any assassination launched by the Mossad, we could sum it up by saying, “And then they died horribly.” But where would the fun in that be?
Operation SOY was carried out one night in Lebanon, a night which would see about 100 people killed. The mission was led by two men in drag, Ehud Bakster (future Israeli prime minister) and his lieutenant Muki Betser. Leading a team of 16 commandos into the city of Lebanon by speedboat, the teams quickly went after their individual targets. Kamal Adwan was first on the list. He was taken aback by the appearance of two “women,” and quickly cut down by 55 bullets. The other two were taken down similarly, while nearby PLO agents were swatted away like flies by Barak and his team.
Simultaneously, a second team went after one of the major bases of the PLO. It was an underdog battle, 14 commandos vs. 100 militants. The militants never stood a chance, with any survivors learning a very important message: Fear the Mossad.
4. Operation Arthopoid
Reinhard Heydrich, otherwise known as the “Blonde Beast” and the “Hangman of Prague” was a very bad man, to put it lightly. He led the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, AKA the Nazi security office. He helped take down all threats to the authority of the Third Reich, and was in charge of the final solution and the Holocaust. If that wasn’t enough of a justifiable reason to kill him, then nothing is for anyone.
Vetted by the British and given the go-ahead by the Czechslovakian government, Operation Arthopoid was both successful and unsuccessful. While in transit, Herr Heydrich’s convoy was set upon by a group of four parachutists: Lt. Adolf Opalka, Sgt. Josef Valcik, Sgt. Jan Kubis, and Sgt. Josef Gabchik. Armed with British ammunition and grenades, the quartet managed to launch a surprise attack on the convoy. Unfortunately, at the critical moment when Josef pointed his gun at the Beast, it jammed. The bullet did not fly, and Herr Heydrich escaped with his life.
Fortunately, he sustained other injuries from the battle fought nearby, in which several grenades were thrown. He succumbed to his injuries a month later, effectively making this a successful failed assassination attempt. Sadly, the unprecedented Nazi backlash directly led to the deaths of close to 1400 people.
3. Operation Ogre
In the late 20th century, Spain was ruled by a rash of fascists and undemocratic men, such as Admiral Carrero Luis Blanco. At the time of his assassination, Blanco was both the Prime Minister of Spain and the chosen successor for Dictator Francisco Franco. He had aided the brutal dictator and carried on his policies when ruling, one of them being the oppression of the Basque people.
However, not everyone found it agreeable to lie down and do nothing. Rather, a terrorist organisation known as the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna — a Basque separatist movement — didn’t like any of the oppression the regime had been dishing out, and so lashed out. On the 20th of December, as Blanco was going to church, his car was blown 66 feet into the air by 80 kg of explosives. The explosives had been placed under the road, via a tunnel which had been dug over a period of five months.
This killing was welcomed by the Spanish opposition government in the diaspora, and endorsed as a key step to democracy. On the other hand, the ETA did later admit that their goal was actually to increase Franco’s oppression, until the average citizen would decide to stick with the lesser of two evils, and agree to be ruled by them. Not every story has to have a good guy, kids.
2. Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
The destruction and loss of life that came as a result of World War I, as well as its sequel WWII, can be traced to one single event — the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. Archduke Ferdinand was heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and had planned to make changes once he took power. This made him a little unpopular in some circles, especially the Bosnian nationalist ones.
On a planned visit to Sarajevo for a military inspection, nine Serbian terrorists, backed by Serbian military officers, carried out a plan to assassinate the Archduke and Duchess. Following their car as it drove it the city, each of the men tried to attack them at some point, with one man throwing a bomb at their car only to have it bounce off ineffectually and explode on another car. The Archduke reached his destination successfully, and did his business.
On his way back, however, the driver of the car made a wrong turn and attempted to correct his route, and the engine stalled. One Gavrilo Princip was nearby and noticed. Upon seeing the Archduke on his wife just sitting there, he fired, hitting Ferdinand in his jugular and Sophie in the gut. The Duke’s last words, spoken as the driver drove them to the Governor’s residence, were “Don’t die Sophie, live for our children!” She was dead on arrival, while he died 10 minutes later. The next month, WWI began.
1. Operation Neptune Spear
As anyone living in the early 21st century knows, Osama bin Laden was the world’s most wanted man for a period of over 10 years, after the world-changing attacks on New York City. By identifying himself as the mastermind, he set himself against the full weight of the United States, along with several other countries. Living a nomadic lifestyle from then, the man known as the Sheikh to some attacked the West and its allies, while mocking them over the Internet.
As we all know however, all good things must come to an end, and revoltingly horrible things must end even faster. Bin Laden had hidden himself quite carefully, knowing full well that simply looking at a computer or smartphone the wrong way could alert the CIA, NSA, FBI, or any other alphabet soup organisation to his location, so he shut himself off from the world. Living in a walled-off compound in Pakistan, no one knew he was there. The residents of the compound didn’t draw attention to themselves, and no one took notice of them. However, the downside to his ban on technology was that there was no way he could communicate except for carrier pigeons and couriers.
He chose the latter, which proved to be his downfall. In 2007, his courier’s identity was discovered and he was tracked to the compound. Determining that was bin Laden’s location after some more investigation was done, a military operation was launched. Two SEAL helicopters, 79 commandos, and a dog were dispatched to Pakistan to kill America’s most wanted man. Now, exactly what happened on that night is still unclear, with several different stories circulating from each of the commandos, but a few things are consistent. One of the helicopters crashed; from then on they had to improvise. Osama stuck his head out of the balcony, saw the SEALS, and ran inside. The SEALS powered their way through the house until they reached the upper room, killing bin Laden with a double tap to the head.