You’re listening to the Hour of the Time and I’m your host, William Cooper.
(opening music: In the Hall of the Mountain King, written by Edvard Grieg)
[Reading from A History of Secret Societies, written by Arkon Daraul]:
„Two men in the year 1092 stood on the ramparts of a medieval castle — the Eagle’s Nest — perched high upon the crags of the Persian mountains: the personal representative of the Emperor and the veiled figure who claimed to be the incarnation of God on earth. Hasan, son of Sabah, Sheikh of the Mountains and leader of the Assassins, spoke: ‚You see that devotee standing guard on yonder turret-top? Watch!‘
„He made a signal. Instantly the white-robed figure threw up his hands in salutation, and cast himself two thousand feet into the foaming torrent which surrounded the fortress.
„‚I have seventy thousand men — and women — throughout Asia, [and] each one of them ready to do my bidding. Can your master, Malik Shah, say the same? And he asks me to surrender to his sovereignty! This is your answer. Go!‘
„[Now] such a scene may be worthy of the most exaggerated of horror films. And yet it took place in historical fact. The only quibble made by the chronicler of the time was that Hasan’s devotees numbered ‚only about forty thousand.‘ How this man Sabah came by his uncanny power, and how his devotees struck terror into the hearts of men from the Caspian to Egypt, is one of the most extraordinary of all tales of secret societies [William Cooper: the Mysteries]. Today, the sect of the Hashishin ([or] druggers) still exists in the form of the Ismailis ([or] Ishmaelites), whose undisputed chief, endowed by them with divine attributes, is the Aga Khan.
„Like many another secret cult, the Assassin organization was based upon an earlier association. [And] in order to understand how they worked and what their objectives were, we must begin with these roots.
„It must be remembered [William Cooper: dear listeners] that the followers of Islam in the seventh century A.D. split into two divisions: the orthodox, who regard Mohammed as the bringer of divine inspiration; and the Shiahs, who consider that Ali, his successor, the Fourth Imam ([or] leader), was more important. It is with the Shiahs that we are concerned here.
„From the beginning of the split in the early days of Islam, the Shiahs relied for survival upon secrecy, organization and initiation. Although the minority party in Islam, they believed that they could overcome the majority (and eventually the whole world) by superior organization and power. To this end they started a number of societies which practiced secret rites in which the personality of Ali was worshipped, and whose rank and file were trained to struggle above all for the accomplishment of world dominion.
„One of the most successful secret societies which the Shiahs founded was centered around the Abode of Learning in Cairo, which was the training-ground for fanatics who were conditioned by the most cunning methods to believe in a special divine mission. In order to do this, the original democratic Islamic ideas had to be overcome by skilled teachers, acting under the orders of the Caliph of the Fatimites, who ruled Egypt at that time.
„Members were enrolled, on the understanding that they were to receive hidden power and timeless wisdom which would enable them to become as important in life as some of the teachers.“
[William Cooper]: …and you find that these same precepts in every branch, in every nationality, on every continent where the Mysteries prevail.
„The Caliph saw to it that the instructors were no ordinary men. The supreme judge was one of them; another was the commander-in-chief of the army; a third the minister of the Court. There was no lack of applicants. In any country where the highest officials of the realm formed a body of teachers, one would find the same thing.
„Classes were divided into study groups, some composed of men, others of women, collectively termed Assemblies of Wisdom. All lessons were carefully prepared, written down and submitted to the Caliph for his seal. At the end of the lecture all present kissed the seal: for did the Caliph not claim direct descent from Mohammed, through his son-in-law Ali and thence from Ismail, the seventh Imam? He was the embodiment of divinity, far more than any Tibetan lama ever was.
„The university, lavishly endowed and possessing the best manuscripts and scientific instruments available, received a grant of a quarter of a million gold pieces annually from the Caliph. Its external form was similar to the pattern of the ancient Arab universities, not much different from Oxford. But its real purpose was the complete transformation of the mind of the student.
„Students had to pass through nine degrees of initiation [William Cooper: the same number that are claimed in the York Rite of Freemasonry]. In the first, the teachers threw their pupils into a state of doubt about all conventional ideas, religious and political. They used false analogy and every other device of argument to make the aspirant believe that what he had been taught by his previous mentors was prejudiced and capable of being challenged. The effect of this according to the Arab historian, Makrizi, was to cause him to lean upon the personality of the teachers, as the only possible source of the proper interpretation of facts. At the same time, the teachers hinted continually that formal knowledge was merely the cloak for hidden, inner and powerful truth, whose secret would be imparted when the youth was ready to receive it. [William Cooper: None ever questioned why no secret was ever put forth.] This ‚confusion technique‘ was carried out until the student reached the stage where he was prepared to swear a vow of blind allegiance to one or other of his teachers.
„This oath, together with certain secret signs, was administered in due course, and the candidate awarded the first degree of initiation. The second degree took the form of initiation into the fact that the Imams ([the] successors of Mohammed) were the true and only sources of secret knowledge and power. Imams inspired the teachers. Therefore the student was to acknowledge every saying and act of his appointed guides as blessed and divinely inspired. In the third degree, the esoteric names of the Seven Imams were revealed, and the secret words by which they could be conjured and by which the powers inherent in the very repetition of their names could be liberated and used for the individual especially in the service of the sect.
„In the fourth degree, the succession of the Seven Mystical Law-givers and magical personalities was given to the learner. These were characterized as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Ismail. There were seven mystical ‚helpers‘: Seth, Shem, Ishmael, Aaron, Simon, Ali, and Mohammed, the [sons] of Ismail. This last was dead, but he had a mysterious deputy, who was the Lord of the Time: authorized to give his instructions to the People of Truth, as the Ismailis called themselves. This hidden figure gave the Caliph the power to pretend that he was acting under even higher instructions.
„The fifth degree named twelve apostles under the seven prophets, whose names and functions and magical powers were described. In this degree the power to influence others by means of personal concentration was supposed to be taught. One writer claims that this was done merely by the repetition, for a period of three years to train the mind, of the magical word AK-ZABT-I.
„To obtain the sixth degree involved instruction in the methods of analytical and destructive argument, in which the postulant had to pass a [very] stiff examination. The seventh degree brought [revelations] of the Great Secret: that all humanity and all creation were one and every single thing was part of the whole, which included the creative and destructive power [William Cooper: the androgynous god]. But, as an Ismaili, the individual could make use of the power which was ready to be awakened within him, and overcome those who knew nothing of the immense potential of the rest of humanity. This power came through the aid of the mysterious power called the Lord of the Time.
„To qualify for the eighth degree, the aspirant had to believe that all religion, philosophy and the like were fraudulent. All that mattered was the individual, who could attain fulfillment only through servitude to the greatest developed power – the Imam. The ninth and last degree brought the revelation of the secret that there was no such thing as belief: all that mattered was action. And the only possessor of the reasons for carrying out any action was the chief of the sect.
„As a secret society, the organization of the Ismailis as outlined above was undoubtedly powerful and seemed likely to produce a large number of devotees who would blindly obey the orders of whomever was in control of the edifice. But, as with [many] other bodies of this kind, there were severe limitations from the point of view of effectiveness.
„Perhaps the phase of revolt or subversion planned by the society did not in the end get under way; perhaps it was not intended to work by any other means than training the individual. Be that as it may, its real success extended abroad only…to Baghdad [in 1058], where a member gained temporary control of Baghdad and coined money in the Egyptian Caliph’s name. [Now] this sultan was slain by the Turks, who now entered the picture, and the Cairo headquarters was also threatened . By 1123, the society was closed down by the Vizier Afdal. The rise of Turkish power seemed to have discouraged the expansionist Cairo sect so strongly that they almost faded out, and [very] little is heard of them after that date.
„It was left to Hasan, son of Sabah, the Old Man of the Mountains, to perfect the system of the ailing secret society, and found an organization which [has] endured for nearly another thousand years.
„Who was Hasan? [Well,] he was the son of a Shiah (Ali-worshipper) in Khorasam, a most bigoted man, who claimed that his ancestors were Arabs, from Kufa. [Now] this assumption was probably due to the fact that such a lineage bolstered up claims to religious importance, then as now, among Moslems. [You see,] the people of the neighborhood, many of them also Shiahs, stated very decisively that this Ali was a Persian, and so were his forebears. [So] it is generally thought that this is the truer version. As the Governor of the Province was an orthodox Moslem, Ali spared no efforts to assume the same guise. [Now] this is considered to be completely permissible — the Doctrine of Intelligent Dissimulation. As there was some doubt as to his reliability in the religious sense, he retired into a monastic retreat, and sent his son Hasan to an orthodox school. This school was no ordinary one. It was the circle of disciples presided over by the redoubtable Imam Muwafiq, about whom it was said that every individual who enrolled under him eventually rose to great power.
„It was here that Hasan met Omar Khayyám, the tentmaker-poet and astronomer, later to be the poet laureate of Persia. Another of his schoolmates was Nizam-ul-Mulk, who rose from peasanthood to become prime minister. These three made a pact, according to Nizam’s autobiography, whereby whichever rose to high office first would help the others.“
[William Cooper]: And that tenet has survived to this day. It is how their own infiltrate all levels of society, military, and government, and then pull their brothers up into positions below them. It is the method of infiltrating and controlling large masses, populations, governments, military organizations, and society as a whole.
„Nizam, the courtier, became Vizier to Alp-Arslan the Turkish sultan of Persia [William Cooper: in a very relatively short time. He helped Omar], in accordance with his vow, and secured him a pension, which gave him a life of ease and indulgence in his beloved Nishapur, where many of his Rubá’iát poems were written. Meanwhile Hasan remained in obscurity, wandering through the Middle East, waiting for his chance to attain the power of which he had dreamed. Arslan the Lion died, and was succeeded by Malik Shah. Suddenly, Hasan presented himself to Nizam, demanding to be given a place at court. Delighted to fulfill his childhood vow, the vizier obtained for him a favored place, and relates what transpired thus in his autobiography:
„‚I had him made [a] minister by my strong and extravagant recommendations. Like his father, however, he proved to be a fraud, hypocrite and a self-seeking villain. He was so clever at dissimulation that he appeared to be pious when he was not, and before long he had somehow completely captured the mind of the Shah.‘
„[Now] Malik Shah was young, and Hasan was trained in the Shiah art of winning people over by apparent honesty [William Cooper: which means it has the appearance, or the look, of honesty, but truly is not. Just as the notice of apparent violations sent by the FCC (laughs)]. But Nizam was still the most important man in the realm, with an impressive record of honest dealing and achievements. Hasan decided to eliminate him.
„The king had asked in that year, 1078, for a complete accounting of the revenue and expenditure of the empire, and Nizam told him that this would take over a year. Hasan, on the other hand, claimed that the whole work could be done in forty days, and offered to prove it [William Cooper: and there’s that forty days again]. The task was assigned to him. And the accounts were prepared in the specified time. Something went wrong at this point. The balance of historical opinion holds that Nizam struck back at the last moment, saying, ‚By Allah, this man will destroy us all unless he is rendered harmless, though I cannot kill my playmate.‘ [Now] whatever the truth may be, it seems that Nizam managed to have such disparities introduced into the final calligraphic version of the accounts that when Hasan started to read them they appeared so absurd that the Shah, in fury, ordered him to be exiled. As he had claimed to have written the accounts in his own hand, Hasan could not justify their incredible deficiencies [William Cooper: and could not sluff the blame off upon his friend].
„Hasan had friends in Isfahan, where he immediately fled. There survives a record of what he said there, which sheds interesting light upon what was in his mind. One of these friends, Abu-al-Fazal, notes that Hasan, after reciting the bitter tale of his downfall, shouted these words, in a state of uncontrollable rage: ‚If I had two, just two, devotees who would stand by me, then I would cause the downfall of that Turk and that peasant.‘
„Fazal concluded that Hasan had taken leave of his senses, and tried to get him out of this ugly mood. Hasan took umbrage, and insisted that he was working on a plan, and that he would have his revenge. He set off for Egypt, there to mature his plans.
„Fazal was himself later to become a devotee of the Assassin chief, and Hasan, two decades later, reminded him of that day in Isfahan: ‚Here I am at Alamut, Master of all I survey: and more. The Sultan and the peasant Vizier are dead. Have I not kept my vow? Was I the madman you thought me to be? I found my two devotees, who were necessary to my plans.‘
„Hasan himself takes up the story of how his fortunes fared after the flight from Persia. He had been brought up in the secret doctrines of Ismailism [William Cooper: the Arab branch of the Mysteries], and recognized the possibilities of power inherent in such a system. He knew that in Cairo there was a powerful nucleus of the society. And, if we are to believe the words of Fazal, he already had a plan whereby he could turn their followers into disciplined, devoted fanatics, willing to die for a leader. What was this plan? [Well,] he had decided that it was not enough to promise paradise, fulfillment, eternal joy to people. He would actually show it to them; show it in the form of an artificial paradise, where houris played and fountains gushed sweet-scented waters, where every sensual wish was granted amid beautiful flowers and gilded pavilions. And this [dear listeners] is what he eventually did.
„Hasan chose a hidden valley for the site of his paradise, described by Marco Polo, who passed this way in 1271:
„‚In a beautiful valley, enclosed between two lofty mountains, he had formed a luxurious garden stored with every delicious fruit and every fragrant shrub that could be procured. Palaces of various sizes and forms were erected in different parts of the grounds, ornamented with works of gold, with paintings and with furniture of rich silks. By means of small conduits contained in these buildings, streams of wine, milk, honey and some of pure water were seen to flow in every direction. The inhabitants of these places were elegant and beautiful damsels, accomplished in the arts of singing, playing upon all sorts of musical instruments, dancing, and especially those of dalliance and amorous allurement. Clothed in rich dresses, they were seen continually sporting and amusing themselves in the garden and pavilions, their female guardians being confined within doors and never allowed to appear. The object which the chief had in view in forming a garden of this fascinating kind was this: that Mahomet having promised to those who should obey his will the enjoyments of Paradise, where every species of sensual gratification should be found, in the society of beautiful nymphs, he was desirous of it being understood by his followers that he also was a prophet and a compeer of Mahomet, and had the power of admitting to Paradise such as he should choose to favor. In order that none without his license should find their way into this delicious valley, he caused a strong and inexpugnable castle to be erected at the opening to it, through which the entry was by a secret passage.“
[William Cooper]: …and thus the legend of Shambala, or the paradise in the mountains, a valley of lush greenery, unending fruits, fair, beautiful maidens…thus the legend began.
„Hasan began to attract young men from the surrounding countryside, between the ages of twelve and twenty: particularly those whom he marked out as possible material for the production of killers. Every day he held court, a reception at which he spoke of the delights of Paradise and at certain times he caused droughts of soporific nature to be administered to ten or a dozen youths, and when half dead with sleep [William Cooper: drugged out of their minds] he had them conveyed to the several palaces and apartments of the garden. Upon awakening from this state of lethargy, their senses were struck by all the delightful objects, and each perceiving himself surrounded by lovely damsels, singing, playing, and attracting his regards by the most fascinating caresses, serving him also with delicious viands and exquisite wines, until, intoxicated with excess and enjoyment, amidst actual [real] rivers of milk and wine, he believed himself assuredly in Paradise, and felt an unwillingness to relinquish its delights. When four or five days had thus been passed, they were thrown once more into a state of somnolency [drugged], and carried out of the garden. Upon being carried to his presence, and questioned by him as to where they had been, their answer was, ‚in Paradise, through the favor of your highness‘; and then, before the whole court who listened to them with eager astonishment and curiosity, they gave a circumstantial account of the scenes to which they had been witnesses. The chief thereupon addressing them said: ‚We have the assurance of our Prophet that he who defends his Lord shall inherit Paradise, and if you show yourselves[, if you show yourselves] to be devoted to the obedience of my orders, that happy lot awaits you.‘
„[Now] suicide was at first attempted by some [William Cooper: to be able to return to the Paradise that they had just left, not knowing that it was an illusion]; but the survivors were early told that only death in the obedience of Hasan’s orders could give the Key to Paradise. [And] in the eleventh century it was not only credulous Persian peasants who would have believed such things were true. Even among [the] more sophisticated people the reality of the gardens and houris of paradise were completely accepted. True, a good many Sufis preached that the garden was allegorical – but that still left more than a few people who believed that they could trust the evidence of their senses.
„The ancient Art of Imposture, by Abdel-Rahman of Damascus, gives away another trick of Hasan’s. [You see,] he had a deep, narrow pit sunk into the floor of his audience-chamber. One of his disciples stood in this, in such a way that his head and neck alone were visible above the floor. [And] around the neck was placed a circular dish in two pieces which fitted together, with a hole in the middle. This gave the impression that there was a severed head on a metal plate standing on the floor. [Now] in order to make the scene more plausible (if that is the word) Hasan had some fresh blood poured around the head, on the plate.
„[Then the] recruits were brought in [William Cooper: the initiates]. ‚Tell them,‘ commanded the chief, ‚what thou hast seen.‘ [Then] the disciple [William Cooper: appearing as a head on the plate]…described the delights of Paradise. ‚You have seen the head of a man who died, whom you all knew. I have reanimated him to speak with his own tongue.‘ [William Cooper: And then, he would really sever, treacherously, the man’s head] in real earnest, and stuck for some time somewhere that the faithful would see it. The effect of this conjuring trick plus murder increased the enthusiasm for martyrdom to the required degree [William Cooper: and gave him unbelievable control over his flock].
There are many documented instances of the recklessness of the fidayeen (devotees) of the Ismailis, one witness being a Westerner who was treated a century later to a similar spectacle to that which had appalled the envoy of Malik Shah.“
[William Cooper]: But we’ve got to take a break first, folks. Don’t go away, I’ll be right back after this very short pause.
(break music: Theme from The Twilight Zone)
[Continuing reading from A History of Secret Societies, written by Arkon Daraul]:
„Henry, Count of Champagne, reports that he was traveling in 1194 through Ismaili territory. ‚The chief sent some persons to salute him and beg that, on his return he would stop at and partake of the hospitality of the castle. The Count accepted the invitation. As he returned, the Dai-el-Kebir ([or] Great Missionary) advanced to meet him, showed him every mark of honor, and let him view his castle and fortresses. Having passed through several, they came at length to one of the towers which rose to an exceeding height. On each tower stood two sentinels clad in white. „These,“ said the Chief, pointing to them, „obey me far better than the subjects of your Christians obey their lords;“ and at a given signal two of them flung themselves down, and were dashed to pieces. „If you wish,“ said he to the astonished Count, „all my white ones shall do the same.“ The benevolent Count shrank from the proposal, and candidly avowed that no Christian prince could presume to look for such obedience from his subjects. When he was departing, with many valuable presents, the Chief said to him meaningly, „By means of these trusty servants I get rid of the enemies of our society.“‚
„Further details of the mentality of Hasan are given in what is supposed to be an autobiographical account of his early days, and it probably is in fact such, because the method of his conversion does seem to follow the pattern which has been observed in fanatics, of whatever religious or political persuasion.
„He was, he says, reared in the belief of the divine right of the Imams, by his father. He early met an Ismaili missionary (Emir Dhareb) with whom he argued strenuously against the Emir’s particular form of creed. Then, sometime later, he went through a bout of severe illness, in which he feared to die, and began to think that the Ismaili doctrine might really be the road to redemption and Paradise. If he died unconverted, he might be damned. Thus it was that as soon as he recovered he sought out another Ismaili propagandist, Abu Najam, and then others. Eventually he went to Egypt, to study the creed at its headquarters.
„He was received with honor by the Caliph, due to his former position at the Court of Malik Shah. in order to increase their own importance, the high officials of the Court made a good deal of public play of the significance of the new convert; but this fact seemed in the end to help Hasan more than it did them. He entered into political intrigue and was arrested, then confined in a fortress. No sooner had he entered the prison than a minaret collapsed, and in some unexplained way this was interpreted as an omen that Hasan was in reality a divinely protected person. The Caliph, hurriedly making Hasan a number of valuable gifts, had him put aboard a ship sailing for north-west Africa. This gave him the funds which he was to use for setting up his ‚paradise‘ — and also, through some quirk of fate, the disciples whom he sought.
„A tremendous storm blew up, terrifying the captain, crew and passengers alike. Prayers were held, and Hasan was asked to join. He refused. ‚The storm is my doing; how can I pray that it abate?‘ he asked. [William Cooper: And then says this:] ‚I have indicated the displeasure of the Almighty. If we sink, I shall not die, for I am immortal. If you want to be saved, believe in me, and I shall subdue the winds.‘
„[Well] at first the offer was not accepted. Presently, however, when the ship seemed on the point of capsizing, the desperate passengers came to him and swore eternal allegiance. Hasan was still [very] calm; and continued so until the storm abated. The ship was then driven on to the sea-coast of Syria, where Hasan disembarked, together with two of the merchant passengers, who became his first real disciples.
„Hasan was not yet ready for the fulfillment of his destiny as he saw it. For the time being, he was traveling under the guise of a missionary of the Caliph in Cairo. From Aleppo he went to Baghdad, seeking a headquarters where he should be safe from interference and where he yet could become powerful enough to expand. Into Persia the road led him, traveling through the country, making converts to his ideas, which were still apparently strongly based upon the secret doctrines of the Egyptian Ismailis. Everywhere he created a really devoted disciple ([or] fidayi) he bade him stay and try to enlarge the circle of his followers. These circles became hatching-grounds for the production of ’self-sacrificers‘, the initiates who were drawn from the ranks of the most promising ordinary converts. Thus it was that miniature training centers, modeled upon the Abode of Learning, were in being within a very few months of his return to his homeland.
„During his travels, a trusted lieutenant — one Hussein Kahini — reported that the Iraki district where the fortress of Alamut was situated seemed to be an ideal place for proselytism. Most of the ordinary people of that place, in fact, had been persuaded into the Ismaili way of thinking. The only obstacle was the Governor, Ali Mahdi, who looked upon the Caliph of Baghdad as his spiritual and temporal lord. The first converts were expelled from the country. Before many months, however, there were so many Ismailis among the populace that the Governor was compelled to allow them to return. Hasan, though, he would not brook [William Cooper: would not allow him]. The prospective owner of Alamut decided to try a trick. He offered the Governor three thousand pieces of gold for ‚the amount of land which could be encompassed by the hide of an ox‘. When Mahdi agreed to such a sale, Hasan produced a skin, cut it into the thinnest possible thongs, and joined them together to form a string which encompassed the castle of Alamut. Although the Governor refused to honor any such bargain, Hasan produced an order from a very highly placed official of the Seljuk rulers, ordering that the fortress be handed over to Hasan for three thousand gold pieces. [Well] it turned out that this official was himself a secret follower of the Sheikh of the Mountain.
„The year was A.D. 1090. Hasan was now ready for the next part of his plan. He attacked and routed the troops of the Emir who had been placed in the governorship of the Province, and welded the people of the surrounding districts into a firm band of diligent and trustworthy workers and soldiers, answerable to him [and him] alone. Within two years the Vizier Nizam-ul-Mulk had been stabbed to the heart by an assassin sent by Hasan, and the Emperor Malik Shah, who dared to send troops against him, died in grave suspicion of poison. Hasan’s revenge upon his class-fellow was to make him the very first target of his reign of terror. [You see,] with the king’s death, the whole realm was split up into warring factions. For long the Assassins alone retained their cohesion. In under a decade they had made themselves masters of all Persian Irak, and of many forts throughout the empire. This they did by forays, direct attack, the poisoned dagger, and in any other manner which seemed expedient [William Cooper: indeed, the ends always justifies by the means]. The orthodox religious leaders pronounced one interdict after another against their doctrines; all to no effect.
„By now the entire loyalty of the Ismailis under him had been transferred from the Caliph to the personality of the Sheikh of the Mountain, who became the terror of every prince in that part of Asia, the Crusader chiefs included. ‚Despite and despising fatigues, dangers and tortures, the Assassins joyfully gave their lives whenever it pleased the great master, who required them either to protect himself or to carry out his mandates of death. The victim having been pointed out, the faithful, clothed in a white tunic with a red sash, the colors of innocence and blood, went on their mission without being deterred by distance or danger. Having found the person they sought, they awaited the favorable moment for slaying him, and their daggers seldom missed their aim.‘
„Richard the Lionheart was at one time accused of having asked the ‚Lord of the Mountain‘ to have Conrad of Montferrat killed; a plot which was carried out thus: ‚Two assassins allowed themselves to be baptized and placing themselves beside him, seemed intent only on praying. But the favorable opportunity presented itself; they stabbed him and one took refuge in the church. But hearing that the prince had been carried off still alive, he again forced himself into Montferrat’s presence, and stabbed him a second time; and then expired, without a complaint, amidst refined tortures.'“
[William Cooper]: Do you see? The method of controlling men’s minds that Hasan had perfected was extremely effective and powerful. And not one, not even one, incidence of one of his followers failing to carry out his orders exactly can be found.
„The Order of the Assassins had perfected their method of securing the loyalty of human beings to an extent and on a scale which has seldom been paralleled.
„The Assassins carried on the battle on two fronts. [You see,] they fought whichever side in the Crusades served their purposes [William Cooper: They fought with the Knights Templars and fought against the Knights Templars]. At the same time they continued the struggle against the Persians. The son and successor of Nizam-al-Mulk was laid low by an Assassin dagger. The Sultan, who had succeeded his father Malik Shah and gained power over most of his territories was marching against them. One morning, however, he awoke with an Assassin weapon stuck neatly into the ground near his head. Within it was a note, warning him to call off the proposed siege of Alamut. [Well,] he came to terms with the Assassins [after that], powerful ruler though he undoubtedly was. [William Cooper: You see, the assassins eventually] had what amounted to a free hand, in exchange for a pact by which they promised to reduce their military power.“
[William Cooper]: It was during their pacts, their treaties, their battles with the Knights Templars that many, some say most, some few even say all, of the Knights Templars were initiated into the Mysteries.
„Hasan lived for thirty-four years after his acquisition of Alamut. On only two occasions since then had he even left his room; yet he ruled an invisible empire as great and as fearsome as any man before — or since.“
[William Cooper]: …they say, but his empire may still exist today, changed and melded with other sects of the Mysteries.
„[Hasan] seemed to realize that death was almost upon him, and calmly began to make plans for the perpetual continuance [folks] of the Order of the Assassins.“
[William Cooper]: And we now begin the latter days of the Assassins which we will not finish in this hour but will finish in the next.
„The ruler of one the most terrifying organizations the world has ever known was without a lineal successor. [In fact,] he had had both of his sons killed: one for carrying out an unauthorized murder, [and] the other for drinking wine; certainly a case of ‚do as I say, not as I do‘. He called his two most trusted lieutenants from the strongholds which they maintained on his behalf: Kia Buzurg-Umid (Kia of Great Promise) and Abu-Ali of Qaswin. Kia was to inherit the spiritual and mystical aspect, while Abu-Ali attended to the military and administrative affairs of the Order. It is said that Hasan bin Sabah died almost immediately afterwards, in 1124, at ninety years of age; having given the world a new word; assassin. ‚Assasseen‘ in Arabic signifies ‚guardians‘, and some commentators have considered this to be the true origin of the word: ‚guardians of the secrets [William Cooper: which the Knight Templar took to Europe].‘
„The Organization of the Order, under Hasan, called for Missionaries…Friends… who were disciples, and Fidavis, devotees. The last group had been added by Hasan to the Ismaili original, and these were the trained killers. Fidavis wore white, with a girdle, cap or boots of red. In addition to careful coaching in where and when to place the dagger in the victim’s bosom, they were trained in such things as languages, the dress and manners of monks, merchants and soldiers, any of whom they were ready to impersonate in carrying out their missions. The chief was known as Sayedna ([which means] Our Prince, [or] Leader), and popularly (because of the mountain stronghold of Alamut), as the Sheikh of the Mountain.“
[William Cooper:] Now, Alamut, or the stronghold of the mountain, was also known as „The Eagle’s Nest,“ and this is what Hitler named his mountain retreat, and there’s also an Eagle’s Nest near Santa Barbara, California, which very few people know anything about…yet.
„[Now, the Sheikh of the Mountain] is the figure referred to in Crusaders‘ writings as ‚Sydney‘, or ‚Senex de Monte‘, the first word being a literal translation of the word ‚Pir‘: Persian for Ancient, or Sage. There were three Great Missionaries, who ruled three territories. After the Friends and Fidavis came the Laziks, aspirants who were being trained for membership of the society, but were as yet uninitiated.
„Hasan reduced the original number of degrees of initiation from nine to the mystical number of seven. A similar number of regulations formed the rules of the Order. This, in fact, comprised the working plan of the spreading of the Faith. The First Rule was that the Missionary must know human psychology in such a way as to be able to select suitable people for admission to the cult; and was summed up in the mnemonic: ‚Cast no seeds upon rocks.‘ The second rule of procedure was the application of flattery and gaining the confidence of the prospective member. Third came the casting of doubt into the mind, by superior knowledge. Fourthly, the teacher must apply an oath to [the] student never to betray any of the ‚truths‘ which were to be revealed to him. Now he was told, as the fifth stage, that Ismailism was a powerful secret organization, supported by some of the most important figures of the time. After this, the aspirant was questioned and studied, to discover whether he had absorbed the opinions of the teacher and attached himself sufficiently into a position of dependence upon his ideas. [And] at this stage he was asked to meditate upon the meaning of the reported saying of the prophet that ‚Paradise lies in the shadow of swords.‘ In the final degree, many difficult passages of the Koran were explained in terms of allegory.
„How is it that the rules of this extraordinarily successful Order are known in such detail? [Well,] it so happened that when the Mongols eventually overthrew Alamut by force of arms, their chief Halaku ([meaning] ‚Destruction‘) Khan, asked his chief minister to examine their library. This most learned man, ‚Father of Kings‘ Jawani, later wrote a careful book in which he detailed the organization of the Assassins, whose name he attributed to the use of the drug Hashish, which they were said to use in stupefying candidates for the ephemeral visit to ‚paradise‘.
„It is possible that recruits were made in another way than by selecting gullible, fully grown youths. Legend has it that Hasan, once master of Alamut, used to buy unwanted children from their parents, and train them in implicit obedience and with the sole desire to die in his service.
„Buzurg-Umid ([meaning] ‚Great Promise‘), the second Grand Master [William Cooper: ‚Grand Master‘ is still used today, folks], maintained the power of the Assassins on much the same pattern: building new forts, gaining fresh converts, terrorizing those whom he did not want to have killed and using them to further his design of world conquest. Sultan Sanjar of Persia, in spite of several expeditions against the Viper’s Nest, as Alamut was now being called, could do little about him.“
[William Cooper:] „Viper’s Nest“ was the term given by the Assassins‘ enemies. The Assassins themselves call it the „Eagle’s Nest.“
„Ambassadors on each side were slain; a notable religious leader was captured by the Assassins, given a mock trial and flung into a furnace. The Grand Master at this time seldom put on the field more than two thousand men at a time: but it must be remembered that they were killers acting under an iron discipline, and more than a match for any organized army that they might ever have to face. Now the Order began to spread in Syria, where the continued contact with the Crusaders was established.
„The warriors of the Cross were in fairly effective control of an area extending from the Egyptian border to Armenia in the north. Bahram, a Persian leader of the Assassin cult from Astrabad, gained control of a mighty fortress in Syria, in the region known as the Valley of Demons (Wadi-el-Jan), and from there spread [out] from one fort to another. The Grand Prior Bahram now moved to an even more substantial fortified place, Massyat. Bahram’s successor, Ismail the Lash-Bearer, planted a trained devotee on the saintly Vizier of Baghdad, into whose confidence he worked his way to such an extent that this Assassin, now called the ‚Father of Trust‘, was actually made Grand Judge of Baghdad.
„The Crusaders had by now been about thirty years in the Holy Land, and the Assassins decided that they could usefully form an alliance with them aimed against Baghdad. A secret treaty was therefore made between the Grand Master and Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, whereby the Ismaili Grand Judge would have opened the gates of Baghdad treacherously to the Crusaders, if the fortified city of Tyre were handed over to the Assassins for their part in the transaction.
„[William Cooper: Well, (laughs) as with most plans,] something went wrong. The judge had ordered an underling to open the city’s gates. This servant had told the military commander of Damascus, who lost no time in killing the man, the Vizier and six thousand people believed to be secret Assassins within the city. The Damascus garrison fell upon the Crusaders and beat them back in a thunderstorm which the Christian warriors attributed to divine anger at their unworthy pact, and the Assassins as an attempt by the powers of Nature to allow the Crusaders into the city under its cover.
„Meanwhile the Grand Master was indulging in an orgy of destruction of individual rulers who opposed his creed; the list is interminable, but this is a fair example: ‚The celebrated Aksunkur, Prince of Mosul, was a warrior equally dreaded by the Christians and the Assassins. As this Prince, on his return from Ma’ara Masrin, where the Moslem and Christian hosts had parted without venturing to engage, entered the Mosque at Mosul to perform his devotions, he was attacked at the moment when he was about to take his usual seat by [William Cooper: not one, but] eight Assassins, disguised as dervishes. Three of them fell below the blows of the valiant Emir; but ere his people could come to his aid, he had received his death-wound and expired.‘
„The fanaticism which inspired the killers was shared, it seems, by other members of their families, who had been thoroughly trained in the bloody creed: for the historian Kamal-ed-Din relates, ‚On this occasion when the mother of one of the youths who attempted Aksunkur’s life heard that he had been slain, she painted her face and donned the gayest raiment and ornaments, rejoicing that her son had been found worthy to die the glorious death of a martyr in the cause of the Imam. But when she saw him return alive and unscathed, she cut off her hair and blackened her countenance, and would not be comforted.‘
„Things thus continued for the fourteen years and a quarter of the Second Grand Master’s rule. When he died he nominated his son Kia Mohammed as his successor. Under Mohammed the killings continued, a part of the sea-coast of Palestine came into Assassin hands, and the cult leaders reaffirmed their overt belief in orthodox Islam. In public, Ismailis were ordinary Moslems; the secret doctrine of the divinely guided leader was not to be discussed with the uninitiated.“
[William Cooper]: Don’t miss tomorrow night’s show. Good night, and God bless each and every one of you.
(closing music: unknown, dramatic instrumental music)
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