Haasan i Sabbah and his Assassins terorrized the Arab world from a mountaintop fortress at Alamut in Persia. Some say he died in the early 12th century, but according to legend, he lived on for at least another 100 years.
“If I had two devotees who would stand by me, I could bend history into any shape I desired,” boasted a young Hassan i Sabbah. His classmates believed him. He was bigger than them and the only Persian in their class at Al Azhar University in Cairo. Hassan spent his days reading the Koran and studying astronomy and poetry. At night he searched for censored texts filled with recipes and incantations for calling genies, teaching subjects to fly and uncovering the secrets of sexual ecstasy. For most Moslems, these old, pre-Islamic writings were pure heresy. If a Moslem had been caught reading them by the wrong mullah, he’d have his eyes poked out in public. If he read them to another Moslem, he’d lose his head. The risks were worth it for Hassan.