An Innovative Recruitment Strategy
In their pleasure gardens, the Assassins plied young recruits with wine, kept him high on hash, and fed them delicious delicacies. The cult’s temptresses worked to instill in the besotted youth the belief that he was in paradise, and that his seductresses were the houris promised those who made it into heaven. Then, after days of wallowing in delights and indulging in heavenly pleasures, the young man was drugged senseless once more, and removed from the gardens. Waking back in his bare cell and austere surroundings, the recruit was informed that he had been in paradise, sent there by the grace of the Old Man of the Mountain, who held the keys to heaven. The youth was then told that he could return to paradise – if he died while killing the Sheik’s enemies.
It worked: suicide squads of horny young fanatics, high on hash and desperate to die while killing the cult’s enemies, descended from the Assassins’ mountain fortresses to terrorize the Middle East. The cult’s first notable victim was Nizam al Mulk, a Grand Vizier in the Seljuk Empire. He wielded absolute power for twenty years, before the Assassins got him in 1092. During their centuries of operations, the cult’s suicide squads killed many prominent Middle Eastern figures. Their victims included numerous sultans, viziers, generals, Crusader higher ups including a King of Jerusalem, and at least two Caliphs. In his youth, King Edward I of England was grievously wounded and barely survived an attack from an Assassin who snuck into the royal tent when Edward was on Crusade.