Sunday, August 31, 2014

Assassinations Gone Wrong

Just like with some of Blade’s assassinations in my fantasy series, The Queen’s Blade, not all real-life assassination attempts have gone according to plan – keeping in mind that a big part of any assassination plan includes not being caught – and not starting a World War!

I think it fitting to start with the assassination that unintentionally started World War I. Danilo Ilić hired six young men to assassinate Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The would-be assassins waited for the archduke’s vehicle, but, when it arrived, the first two assassins chickened out. Another of the six youngsters threw a bomb at the convertible, but it bounced off the cover and blew up the wrong car, travelling behind the archduke. The assassin tried to commit suicide, but the cyanide pill he took failed to kill him, as did the river he jumped into to drown himself, as it was only a few inches deep. A crowd pulled him out and beat him badly. Later that day, the archduke went to the hospital to visit those the bomb had wounded. Gavrilo Princip, one of the would-be assassins, who was only nineteen at the time, saw the archduke’s car outside and shot him and his wife.

Jacob Johan Anckarström, Adolf Ribbing and Claes Fredrik Horn planned the assassination of Sweden’s King Gustav III. King Gustav was warned of the assassination attempt, but still attended a masked ball as planned, thinking that his costume would hide his identity. Unfortunately for him, his royal cape made his identity obvious, and he was shot by the three masked assassins – whose masks didn’t hide their identity any better than King Gustav’s had… the next morning, they were caught and decapitated.
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In one of history’s more famous assassinations, John Wilkes Booth and co-conspirators planned to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward. Johnson’s would-be assassinator chickened out, and Seward’s assassin inflicted multiple stab wounds, but failed to kill him. Booth shot Lincoln in the middle of a play, then, instead of trying to blend into the crowd, he leapt onto the stage and shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!” (Thus always to tyrants.)

One of the weirdest assassinations in history – another surrounded by much rumour – was that of Grigori Rasputin aka the Mad Monk. First, someone stabbed him in the stomach so badly his entrails came out, but, amazingly, this didn’t kill the Russian mystic. Then Prince Felix Yusupov and co-conspirators poisoned him, using enough cyanide to kill at least five men. This, too, failed to kill Rasputin, so Yusupov shot him – three times. Still not dead, Rasputin grabbed the man who had shot him and, trying to strangle him, said, “You bad boy.” He eventually died when others at the scene shot him and threw him into the river.

Last, but not least, in January 2013, Oktai Enimehmedov pulled a gun on Ahmed Dogan, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader – on live television. Before the gun went off, Enimehmedov was tackled to the ground and arrested. It seems this wasn’t an actual assassination attempt, however, and the twenty-five-year-old claims he merely wanted to show Enimehmedov he wasn’t untouchable. Police said afterwards that the gun he had pulled on Dogan was only a gas pistol loaded with pepper spray and suspected the party had staged the whole thing for publicity, but not everyone agrees with this suspicion. Watch the video if you want to be gobsmacked!

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