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A History Of Political Assassinations In Iran

With the death today of a nuclear scientist, Masud Ali Mohammadi, the tactic of assassinating high-profile figures seems to be back in Iran:

In a piece for "Tehran Bureau," via PBS, Muhammad Sahimi has some useful context on Iran's history of political assassinations:

The history of political assassinations in Iran is almost as old as the nation itself: Xerxes (519-465 BC) was killed by his guards; Xerxes II ruled for only 45 days before he was murdered in 424 by his brother Secydianus; and even Nader Shah (1688-1747) of the Afsharid dynasty met his demise at the hands of an assassin. In fact, the root of the very word "assassin" is generally attributed to Hassan Sabbah (1050s-1124) and his followers, who were the political dissidents of their era, although linguists debate the origin of assassin as deriving from the words meaning "user of hashish" [as Sabbah's followers were sometimes called the Hashshashin], "a follower of Hassan," or "rowdy people."

He concludes:

In 2000, Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of the former president who at that time was Secretary General of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (the largest reformist group in Iran), referring to the hardliners' estimation that dissent can be eliminated by murdering the dissidents, warned that, "the cancer tumor is still alive and could reemerge at any moment." Events in the wake of the country's rigged June 12 presidential election seen to have proven Khatami's statement prophetic.

Read the whole piece here.

-- Luke Allnutt

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