#2. The Slow-Motion Clubbing of Grigoris Lambrakis
Grigoris Lambrakis was a Greek left-wing politician and activist before it was cool or, for that matter, safe: during the rule of a very right-wing government in the early 1960s.
Keystone-France / Contributor
We're fairly certain that sign means "Team Jacob" in Greek.
His constant protests, activism and campaigning annoyed the Greek police and military enough for them to decide that he needed to be removed. However, it needed to be done with care -- Lambrakis was popular, and the government forces didn't want to get their own hands dirty. So they ended up enlisting two far-right extremists to do the deed, because everyone knows those guys are the epitome of reserved discretion.
The two freshly government-sanctioned assassins leaped into action in a way that would make Captain Caveman proud: They grabbed a club and packed themselves into a trikyklo (one of those sad three-wheeled vehicles that are not quite scooters and definitely not cars).
What they are is an extremely efficient way to die in traffic.
Then, swinging their Neanderthalian weapon, they putt-putted to the site where Lambrakis was giving an anti-war speech.
With the police busy staring at the sky and whistling, the pair had no problem getting into the area. However, there was a great flaw in their otherwise, well, pretty damn stupid plan: To club Lambrakis over the head, they had to slow the trikyklo down to walking pace, drive right up to the man and bash him over the head, right in front of everyone. So that's what they did.
There's a timeless elegance to beating men bloody with heavy chunks of wood.
As Lambrakis fell dead, they immediately found the other flaw in their plan: Even though the police wouldn't lift a finger against them, they had just slowed their vehicle to a near halt and clubbed down a famous guy in front of a large audience of his supporters.
Members of the audience sprinted after the assassins' vehicle, caught it and dragged the hapless assassins out. At that point, the police didn't have much choice but to do their jobs. Both perpetrators were quickly arrested, convicted and forgotten. The legacy of Lambrakis, on the other hand, lives on. You might have seen the Academy Award nominated movie they made about him.
It featured the highest density of impossible-to-pronounce character names of any movie prior to Lord of the Rings.
#1. The Undermining of Luis Carrero Blanco
In 1973, four commandos of the Basque separatist group ETA set out to take down Spanish Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco -- the confidant and soon-to-be successor of the dictator Francisco Franco (Spanish politics at the time was run on a Dr. Seuss-style rhyming system).
Their mission was called Operation Ogre, and it was completely insane. We're not kidding here -- Christopher Nolan would have scrapped it for being unnecessarily convoluted.
First, the commandos had to pose as students of sculpture in order to rent a basement apartment on a street Carrero Blanco regularly traveled on his way to Mass. The fact that these hardened warriors ever managed to convince a landlord that they were art students was a notable achievement in itself -- but it was just the beginning.
"Those are ... candles. Art candles."
Next, they started digging a tunnel under the road by hand, a task made all the more arduous by the fact that none of them had a clue about tunneling. Or anything else, really -- during the year that went into the preparations, countless nearly botched supply robberies, irrelevant arms raids and unnecessary maneuvers made it clear that as good as the team might've been at commandoing, they absolutely sucked rodent ass at everything else.
The second they started their tunneling project, they discovered that their pickaxes were far too large and it was impossible to swing them with any force. Then, one of the assassins remembered that he was claustrophobic, something that probably should have occurred to him at the "let's dig a small, dark tunnel" part of the planning stage. Then, the tunnel roof started repeatedly collapsing on them. At that point, the only thing that was missing was the soil being contaminated with, say, leaking sewage and noxious gases. Wait, it was? Never mind.
Noxious gases had long been one of Carrero Blanco's staunch allies.
Finally, someone had the bright idea to actually read a book on how to dig a tunnel. They started to use props, which stopped the roof-falls, but did little about the smelly sewage and gas, which by now was messing with their health pretty big time. Yet the men persevered, and one day, the tunnel was finally complete. That was the second most rewarding day of their lives.
The most rewarding day of their lives came soon afterward, when their target's car drove over the tunnel they had now filled to the brim with explosives. Their giant tunnel-bomb was a success beyond belief: It hurled Carrero Blanco's car five stories into the air. It just flat out flew over a church and to the other side, where it landed on a second story terrace:
"Damn. It was 50 points for the tall roof."
The men, disguised as electricians, looked in awe and did their level best to suppress high-fives. And justifiably so -- hell, we'd dig a tunnel for a year, if the reward was a badass GTA flip like that. We probably wouldn't put a prime minister in the car, though.
For more crazy assassination attempts, check out The 6 Most Utterly Insane Attempts to Kill a US President and The 5 Most Ridiculous Assassination Plots Ever Attempted.