The US definition of assassination in a 1953 instruction manual includes that assassination is “the planned killing of a person who is not under the legal jurisdiction of the killer”, “whose death provides positive advantages” to the organization that performs the killing.
All conceivable methods for carrying out and hiding or publicizing assassinations, depending on the situation, have long been conceived by US militants. The following is a brief sample of tips and tricks advised by the US.
Orders for secret assassinations will never “be written or recorded.”
“All planning must be mental; no papers should ever contain evidence of the operation.”
Discussion of the assassination will be “confined to an absolute minimum of persons. Ideally, only one person will be involved.”
“Except in terroristic assassinations”, in which publicity is necessary for psychological effect, the assassin “should have an absolute minimum of contact with the rest of the organization and his instructions should be given orally by one person only.” This leaves no tracks and helps keep the operation secret, confined to an inner circle of the most vetted, reliable killers.
Sometimes, to help conceal the act, an unwitting person is to be used and “killed with the subject”. These types of operations are called “lost”.
In lost operations, the US advises using mentally unstable individuals, or “fanatics”, who can be used, killed in the operation, and blamed entirely, allowing the US to deny involvement.
“In lost assassination, the assassin must be a fanatic of some sort. Politics, religion, and revenge are about the only feasible motives. Since a fanatic is unstable psychologically, he must be handled with extreme care. He must not know the identities of the other members of the organization, for although it is intended that he die in the act, something may go wrong.”
When it is desired that a killing is not revealed as an assassination, “the contrived accident is the most effective technique.”
“The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.”
The assassin can they play the “horrified witness”, so that “no alibi or surreptitious withdrawal is necessary”.
Sometimes, as in the US assassination of civil rights leader Fred Hampton, it will be necessary to “drug the subject” before killing him.
Particularly if “the subject is under medical care”, killing him or her with “drugs can be very effective”. “An overdose of morphine administered as a sedative will cause death without disturbance and is difficult to detect.” (The US has since also been documented to have a gun that can shoot people with undetectable poisons that “caused heart attacks and cancer.”)
When firearms are used, they should be selected to “provide destructive power at least 100% in excess of that thought to be necessary”.
But since their “possession is often incriminating” and they “may be difficult to obtain”, often a “hammer”, “baseball ball”, or a “heavy stick” is preferable to a firearm, especially due to “universal availability” of such objects. With these, blows need simply “be directed to the temple, the area just below and behind the ear, and the lower, rear portion of the skull. Of course, if the blow is very heavy, any portion of the upper skull will do.”
Using machine guns for assassination will usually “require the subversion of a unit of an official guard at a ceremony, though a skillful and determined team might conceivably dispose of a loyal gun crow [sic] without commotion and take over the gun at the critical time.”
If a shotgun is used the “barrel may be ‘sawed’ off for convenience”.
“The sound of the explosion of the proponent in a firearm can be effectively silenced by appropriate attachments”, though the use of silencers has been hyped beyond their effectiveness.
When Obama chooses to publicize his assassinations by intentionally leaking information about them to the press, they are thus here defined by the US as “terroristic”.
On using explosives for assassinations, the manual states that “in terroristic and open assassination[s]” like many of Obama’s, bombs “can provide safety” for the assassin and “overcome guard barriers” – and this was long before today’s advancements in remote-controlled bomb detonation, a method favored by Obama for executing suspects.
The manual states that one consideration when using explosives for assassination is the “moral” dilemma involved in “indiscriminate killing” of “casual bystanders”, though this has apparently been little deterrent for Obama, who, since entering office, has further relaxed official US standards on knowingly killing civilians.
Here is historian William Blum’s list of US assassinations or attempted assassinations of major leaders of foreign governments since 1945, when the US became the world’s dominant organization:
- 1949 – Kim Koo, Korean opposition leader
- 1950s – CIA/Neo-Nazi hit list of more than 200 political figures in West Germany to be “put out of the way” in the event of a Soviet invasion
- 1950s – Chou En-lai, Prime minister of China, several attempts on his life
- 1950s, 1962 – Sukarno, President of Indonesia
- 1951 – Kim Il Sung, Premier of North Korea
- 1953 – Mohammed Mossadegh, Prime Minister of Iran
- 1950s (mid) – Claro M. Recto, Philippines opposition leader
- 1955 – Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India
- 1957 – Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt
- 1959, 1963, 1969 – Norodom Sihanouk, leader of Cambodia
- 1960 – Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Kassem, leader of Iraq
- 1950s-70s – José Figueres, President of Costa Rica, two attempts on his life
- 1961 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, leader of Haiti
- 1961 – Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the Congo (Zaire)
- 1961 – Gen. Rafael Trujillo, leader of Dominican Republic
- 1963 – Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam
- 1960s-70s – Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, many attempts on his life
- 1960s – Raúl Castro, high official in government of Cuba
- 1965 – Francisco Caamaño, Dominican Republic opposition leader
- 1965-6 – Charles de Gaulle, President of France
- 1967 – Che Guevara, Cuban leader
- 1970 – Salvador Allende, President of Chile
- 1970 – Gen. Rene Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of Army, Chile
- 1970s, 1981 – General Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama
- 1972 – General Manuel Noriega, Chief of Panama Intelligence
- 1975 – Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire
- 1976 – Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica
- 1980-1986 – Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya, several plots and attempts upon his life
- 1982 – Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of Iran
- 1983 – Gen. Ahmed Dlimi, Moroccan Army commander
- 1983 – Miguel d’Escoto, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua
- 1984 – The nine comandantes of the Sandinista National Directorate
- 1985 – Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanese Shiite leader (80 people killed in the attempt)
- 1991 – Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq
- 1993 – Mohamed Farah Aideed, prominent clan leader of Somalia
- 1998, 2001-2 – Osama bin Laden, leading Islamic militant
- 1999 – Slobodan Milosevic, President of Yugoslavia
- 2002 – Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Afghan Islamic leader and warlord
- 2003 – Saddam Hussein and his two sons
- 2011 – Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya
Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and also writes professionally for the film industry. He is a regular contributor to Washington’s Blog. Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.