10 Famous Political Leaders who were Assassinated

A murder of an individual is called assassination, who is usually a famous celebrity, politician, religious figure or royal. Usually in cases of assassination there is a clear motive – jealousy, political or religious idealism, contract killing, revenge etc.. As the world moved into the modern day, the killing of important people began to become more than a tool in power struggles between rulers themselves and was also used for political symbolism, such as in the propaganda of the deed. Ever since the Moabite King Eglon was stabbed to death on his throne in 1200 BCE. And, probably long before that, the political leaders have been killed for any number of reasons.

Assassinations may be prompted by religious, ideological, political, or military reasons, but the end result is targeted killing of a public figure, whom we know well or we love. Here is a list of 10 notable assassinations of most famous and beloved political leaders and the places where they were assassinated. Lets start the list of famous political leaders who were assassinated.

10. Rafic Hariri: Lebanon

Rafic Hariri Lebanon
Rafic Baha El Deen Al-Hariri (November 1, 1944 – February 14, 2005), was a business tycoon and the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 until his resignation, 20 October 2004. He headed five cabinets during his tenure. Hariri dominated the country’s post-war political and business life and is widely credited with reconstructing Beirut after the 15-year civil war.

Hariri was assassinated on 14 February 2005 when explosives equivalent to around 1000 kg of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove past the St. George Hotel in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The investigation, by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, into his assassination is still ongoing and currently led by the independent investigator Daniel Bellemare. In its first two reports, UNIIIC indicated that the Syrian government may be linked to the assassination. According to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news investigation, the special UN investigation team had found strong evidence for the responsibility of Hezbollah in the assassination. Hariri’s killing led to massive political change in Lebanon, including the Cedar Revolution and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

9. Thomas D’Arcy McGee: Canada

Thomas D’Arcy McGee Canada
Thomas D’Arcy Etienne Hughes McGee was an Irish Nationalist, Catholic spokesman, journalist, and a Father of Canadian Confederation. He fought for the development of Irish and Canadian national identities that would transcend their component groups. He is, to date, the only Canadian victim of political assassination at the federal level. In terms of economics he promoted modernization, calling for extensive economic development by means of railway construction, the fostering of immigration, and the application of a high protective tariff to encourage manufacturing. Politically active, he advocated a new nationality in Canada, to escape the sectarianism of Ireland.

On April 7, 1868, McGee participated in a parliamentary debate that went on past midnight. Afterward he walked to his Sparks St. boarding house at 2:00 AM. While trying to enter the boarding house ,the door was locked from the inside and McGee was waiting for the landlady to open the door, he was purportedly assassinated by Patrick J. Whelan as the door was being opened. Patrick J. Whelan, a Fenian sympathizer and a Catholic, was accused, tried, convicted, and hanged for the crime.

8. Muammar Gaddafi: Libya

Famous Political Leaders who were Assassinated
Gaddafi was a Libyan revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He governed Libya as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977, then as the “Brotherly Leader” of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011. He was initially ideologically committed to Arab nationalism and Arab socialism, but later came to rule under his own Third International Theory.

A highly divisive figure, Gaddafi dominated Libya’s politics for four decades and was the subject of a pervasive cult of personality. He was decorated with various awards and lauded for his anti-imperialist stance, support for Arab and then African unity, and for significant improvements that his government brought to the Libyan people’s quality of life. Conversely, Islamic fundamentalists strongly opposed his social and economic reforms. He was internationally condemned as a dictator whose authoritarian administration violated the human rights of Libyan citizens and financed global terrorism.

Amid the 2011 Arab Spring, protests against widespread corruption and unemployment broke out in eastern Libya. The situation descended into civil war, in which NATO intervened militarily on the side of the anti-Gaddafist National Transitional Council (NTC). The government was overthrown and Gaddafi retreated to Sirte. Gaddafi was captured and killed on 20 October 2011 during the Battle of Sirte. Gaddafi was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by National Transitional Council forces. He was killed shortly afterwards.

8.  King Faisal: Saudi Arabia

King Faisal: Saudi Arabia
Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975. As king, he is credited with rescuing the country’s finances and implementing a policy of modernization and reform, while his main foreign policy themes were pan-Islamism, anti-Communism, and pro-Palestinian nationalism. He successfully stabilized the kingdom’s bureaucracy and his reign had significant popularity among Saudis.

On 25 March 1975, King Faisal was shot point-blank and killed by his half-brother’s son, Faisal bin Musaid, who had just come back from the United States. The murder occurred at a majlis. In the waiting room, Prince Faisal talked to Kuwaiti representatives who were also waiting to meet King Faisal. When the Prince went to embrace him, King Faisal leaned to kiss his nephew in accordance with Saudi culture. At that instant, Prince Faisal took out a pistol and shot him.

7. Martin Luther King, Jr.: United States

Martin Luther King, Jr.: United States
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. King has become a national icon in the history of modern American liberalism. King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means.

By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and stopping the Vietnam War. On April 4, 1968, a shot rang out as King stood on the motel’s second floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. The events following the shooting have been disputed. After emergency chest surgery, King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital in an hour. King’s autopsy revealed that though only thirty-nine years old, he had the heart of a sixty-year-old man, perhaps a result of the stress of thirteen years in the civil rights movement. The assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 100 cities.

6.  Abraham Lincoln: USA

Famous Political Leaders who were Assassinated
Abraham Lincoln, nicknamed Honest Abe, was the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Honest Abe steered his country through the American Civil War and ended slavery within the country’s boundaries. He also had the reputation of being respectful and fair. His tenure in office was occupied primarily with the defeat of the secessionist Confederate States of America in the American Civil War.

Lincoln successfully defused the Trent affair, a war scare with Britain late in 1861. Lincoln successfully rallied public opinion through his rhetoric and speeches; his Gettysburg Address (1863) became an iconic symbol of the nation’s duty. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation. Lincoln has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest of all U.S. Presidents.

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated, though an unsuccessful attempt had been made on Andrew Jackson thirty years before in 1835.

5. Mahatma Gandhi: India

Mahatma Gandhi: India
Indian political activist and spiritual leader, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. The voice of non-violence in an increasingly violent world, when the emaciated Indian holy man was gunned down on the streets of New Delhi by a university student turned activist, it was a tremendous blow not only to India, but to the entire world.

His policies of compassion towards the poor and non-violent resistance served as a blueprint for peaceful change, while his ability to affect both Hindu and Muslim alike made peace of a kind, possible in his war torn nation. The only positive thing that can be said, if such is possible, is that it was fortunate his assailant was a fellow Hindu. On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was shot while he was walking to a platform from which he was to address a prayer meeting. The assassin, Nathuram Godse, was a Hindu nationalist with links to the extremist Hindu Mahasabha, who held Gandhi responsible for weakening India by insisting upon a payment to Pakistan.

4. Indira Gandhi: India

Indira Gandhi: India
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms (1966–77) and a fourth term (1980–84). Gandhi was the second female head of government in the world after Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, and she remains as the world’s second longest serving female Prime Minister as of 2012. Indira was the first woman to become prime minister in India. She was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India. She established closer relations with the Soviet Union, depending on that nation for support in India’s long-standing conflict with Pakistan.

Indira was also the only Indian Prime Minister to have declared state of emergency in order to ‘rule by decree’ and the only Indian Prime Minister to have been imprisoned after holding that office. She was assassinated at 9:20 AM on October 31, 1984, at Prime Minister’s Residence at No. 1, Safdarjung Road in New Delhi. She was killed by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star.

2. John F. Kennedy: USA

John F. Kennedy: USA
John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his death in 1963. After Kennedy’s military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 during World War II in the South Pacific, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate.

He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.

In 1956 Kennedy almost gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President. Millions watched his television debates with the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President. On November 22, 1963, when he was hardly past his first thousand days in office, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullets as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President; he was the youngest to die.

1. Benazir Bhutto: Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan
The Chair-Person of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Benazir Bhutto was the most famous Pakistani woman socialist-democratic politician who was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan. B. B. was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state, having twice been Prime Minister of Pakistan in two non-consecutive terms (1988–1990; 1993–1996).

She was Pakistan’s first and to date only female prime minister and was the eldest child of Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and First Lady of Pakistan Nusrat Bhutto, and was the wife of current President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. As the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was an icon of the battle for democracy, and stands with only a handful of female executive leaders who have shaped the global events of the last century.

On 27 December 2007, Bhutto was killed while leaving a campaign rally for the PPP at Liaquat National Bagh in the city of Rawalpindi, where she addressed a rally of Pakistan Peoples Party supporters for the run-up to the parliamentary elections 2008. Bhutto was leaving the rally at her white Toyota Land Cruiser when the attack occurred. After entering her bulletproof vehicle, Bhutto stood up through its sunroof to wave to the crowds. At this point, a gunman fired shots at her and subsequently explosives were detonated near the vehicle killing approximately 20 people. Bhutto was critically wounded and was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital but she was declared dead at 18:16 local time.

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