ISIS and the Hashshashin:

The Influence of Hassan-i Sabbāh on Islamic State


by Andrew Arnett

The Order of the Hashshashin were a sect from the Shia branch of Islam, founded in the 11th century by Hassan-I-Sabbah . They used sex, drugs, religion, political maneuverings, and murder to gain unprecedented power in the Middle East during their time. The term ‘assassin’ is reported to have been derived from the word Hashshashin, which also refers to the cannabis drug hashish. Indeed, the literal interpretation of the name means “hashish consuming intoxicated assassins.”

What does this have to do with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS? If anything, ISIS has opposed illicit drugs, deeming them ‘Haram’ (sinful), thus banning cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol.

Despite ISIS video showing members of the Islamic State burning marijuana fields captured from the Free Syrian Army, reports have emerged revealing widespread use of illicit drugs by Syrian militants.

“They (ISIS) have lots of pills with them that they all keep taking,” Ekram Ahmet, a Kurd fleeing Kobane, tells the MIRROR “It seems to make them more crazy if anything. They become agitated and excited, desperate to punish even children for the smallest thing.”

In January of this year, Reuters reported on how Syria has become a major consumer and exporter of amphetamines, the most popular being captagon.

According to Reuters, captagon “generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues in Syria, potentially providing funding for weapons, while the drug itself helps combatants dig in for long, grueling battles.”

Islamic State is riddled with contradictions. While imposing harsh penalties for stealing, dressing immodestly, and disobedience, ISIS engages in looting, murder, and rape. If ISIS consumes mass quantities of illegal drugs to fuel their jihad, it should come with little surprise.

Drugs aside, there are many parallels between ISIS and the Hashshashin, revealing how ISIS may have co-opted this groups modus operandi for its own jihadist goals.

In fact, the Hashshashin have had a profound impact on all subsequent cults and secret societies.

West Moore, in Disinformation , states that “During the Crusades, the Hashshashins fought both for and against the Crusaders, whichever suited their agenda. As a result, the Crusaders brought back to Europe the Assassins’ system, which would be passed down and mimicked by numerous secret societies in the West. The Templars, the Society of Jesus, Priory de Sion, the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, etc. all owe their organizational efficiency to Hasan.”

The Hashshsashins, being Shia, were numerically inferior to the Sunnis. To survive, and ultimately conquer their foes, they had to rely on organization, initiation, and secrecy.

Hassan-I-Sabbah, artist rendering.

Hassan-I-Sabbah was a Persian revolutionary, scholar, and mystic, who transcended in the arts of murder and manipulation.

Hassan mastered the techniques of assassination, the poison dipped dagger being his signature method for eliminating rivals. The Assassins were also keen on kidnapping, absconding with some of the most influential minds of the time.

However, their most effective weapon was propaganda. Their reputation was so fierce that they could often influence policy by intimidation.

One story tells of how, in 1092, Hassan stood alongside an advisor to the Persian Emperor on the ramparts of the Eagle’s Nest, his mountain fortress, discussing Hassan’s surrender.

“You see that devotee standing guard on yonder turret-top? Watch,” Hassan told the advisor.

Hassan made a signal to the man and that man instantly dived two thousand feet to his death.

“I have seventy thousand men — and women — throughout Asia, each one of them ready to do my bidding,” Hasssan told him. “Can your master, Malik Shah, say the same? And he asks me to surrender to his sovereignty! This is your answer. Go!”

After securing the mountain fortress of Alamut, Hassan created his legendary “Garden of Earthly Delights.” Here he initiated his Assassins with rituals of wine, milk, honey, sex, and hashish.

This was all part of an elaborate system whereby the Assassins used mind control techniques to gain converts.

Hassan is quoted as saying, on his death bed, “Nothing is forbidden. Everything is permitted.”

Understanding this, we may gain some insight into the little known inner workings of the Islamic State.

[ Note: All links to references are underlined ]