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The first agents of militant Islam

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The first agents of militant Islam

The first agents of militant Islam in the Middle East were members of a neo-Ismailite sect, formed by Caliph-Imam al-al-Mustansir and his son Nizar in EGYPT sometime in the mid-11th century. Nizar was driven from Cairo by rivals at court, finding support among Ismailite converts in the mountains of Persia (now IRAN). There, while Nizar remained the movement’s figurehead, true power resided with Hassan
ibn-al-Saabah, leader of the Persian Ismailites. In1090 Hassan’s warriors captured the mountain stronghold of Alamut, where Hassan installed him-self and soon became known as the Old Man of the Mountain. Alamut—also known as the Eagle’s
Nest—provided a fortuitous vantage point for observation and interdiction of Christian invaders during the centuries of the Crusades.

According to Marco Polo, who visited Alamut in 1271, the stronghold included fabulous gardens, occupied by lovely women whom the reigning cult leaders used to good advantage. Simply put, cult members would be drugged with hashish and then carried into the garden, where they woke among nubile beauties who were willing to satisfy any sexual demand. After they were drugged a second time, the soldiers found themselves “back” at Alamut, where the Old Man informed them that they had been granted a glimpse of Paradise—the very afterlifeawaiting any disciple who died in service of Allah. Soemboldened, the Assassins—from hasashhim, “usersof hashish”)—feared no danger when they were dispatched to kill targets chosen by their leader.
Many of the victims were crusaders, but rival Muslim leaders also fell before the cult’s onslaught, and the Assassins also served as mercenary contract killers if
the price was right.
By the late 11th century, the cult had outposts in SYRIA and had converted the prince of Aleppo, Ridwan ibn-Tutush (d. 1113). By 1140 Assassins had captured mountain fortresses throughout northern Syria, including Masyad, al-Kahf, al-Qadmus, and al-
Where Christian invaders failed to curb the cult, Mongol invaders finally succeeded, routing the Assassins from Masyad in 1260. Twelve years later, the Mamluk Sultan Baybars dealt the cult a final blow with mass arrests and executions. Still, some members of the sect reportedly escaped to India—where they may have resurfaced as thugs in the 13th century.


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