The 4 Most Absurd Assassination Attempts on World Leaders
Assassination is a pretty touchy subject. Just typing it in this article once is probably plenty enough to get this page at least a once-over from some form of national intelligence — that is if they didn’t already have some light go red as soon as I typed it in the first draft. Either way, hello, Starbucks-sipping junior CIA agent, and welcome to Cracked dot com. You’re probably not going to like number four too much. If aliens are real, please let us know in the comments.
For such a heinous crime, whether it’s because of the heightened logistics involved or the need for subterfuge, sometimes we get assassination attempts that are distinctly, well, goofy. Despite the fact that it could be an act that could destabilize the politics of the entire world, or cause a world war a la Franz Ferdinand, somehow it seems like it always ends up involving bombs or poison and some sort of fake household object. It’s almost like a Mad Lib, where somebody’s filling in “we’d like to destabilize an oil-rich developing country by killing its leader with a (type of threat) (noun). An exploding cow. A poisonous plunger. A very sharp donut.
Along those lines, here are four of the most absurd assassination attempts on world leaders…
Patrice Lumumba’s Poison Toothpaste
Lumumba was the prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a fresh name and a fresh start for the country previously known as the Belgian Congo. He led a nationalist party to victory to make the Congo an independent state, for the sake of the people and for the sake of not having the indignity of another country’s name showing up in your country’s name. Two problems with that: 1) the Congo had a whole lot of uranium; and 2) Patrice Lumumba was more friendly with the Soviet Union than the U.S. preferred.
So, wanting to make sure the Western world kept a vice grip on all that sweet, tasty uranium, the U.S. quickly cooked up a plan to assassinate Lumumba — via dental hygiene. A CIA scientist created a poison that would emulate native tropical diseases of the Congo, that was meant to be slipped into his toothpaste. The plan was that Lumumba would head to bed, brush his pearly whites and suddenly drop deathly ill from what seemed like a run-of-the-mill local illness. The toothpaste-and-dagger plan never came to pass (at least that we know about), but it never needed to, as Western governments instead leaned into some classic military unrest, leading to Lumumba being executed by a firing squad under Belgian supervision. This made it easy to pop in the States’ preferred leader, a fairly uncool guy named Mobutu Sese Seko, whose reign was described by the Washington Post as a “despotic and corrupt regime.” At least he wasn’t a dirty communist!
Taking Out Louis XV With A Penknife
The attempt on Louis XV’s life has to be one of the worst assassination attempts in history, and I’m not talking about morally or emotionally. I mean that it was just straight-up dumb. The whole thing was foiled before it began due to the would-be assassin, Robert-Francois Damiens, having a vastly inflated confidence in the power of a single penknife stab. No poison-coated tip, no carefully calculated point of attack; Damiens just walked up to Louis XV and gave him one brisk stab in the side.
Being that it was winter at the time, Louis XV was absolutely draped in all sorts of warm finery, making Damiens’ already ineffective weapon even less deadly. In the end, the knife only went half an inch into Louis himself. Not enough to cause a hint of mortal danger, but it was apparently enough to scare him so much that he was convinced he was dying. As a result, he confessed a litany of affairs to his wife.
Fidel Castro’s Exploding Seashell
The fact that Castro died of natural causes is nothing short of incredible. The man lived to 90, an age that a whole lot of people don’t end up seeing without everyone trying to kill them their entire life. The number of assassination attempts on Castro are estimated to be in the low 600s, many of them tied to what had to be an increasingly frustrated U.S. government. Maybe that frustration is part of what led to some truly strange ideas on how to compromise Castro to a permanent end.
Learning that Castro was a big-time scuba guy, they must have figured that underwater was the perfect place to pop him. They went a little weirder than a well-aimed harpoon, though, including plans to gift him a scuba suit filled with flesh-eating fungus, and one particularly goofy idea: blowing him up with a fake mollusk. The goal of the scrapped plan was reportedly to find a mollusk big enough to pack in enough explosives to pulp Castro, paint it all sorts of pretty colors and leave it underwater at one of his usual dive spots. If all the dominoes fell correctly, it would go something like, “Oh weird, a purple clam—” BOOM, freedom.
Grigori Rasputin Gets Absolutely Bodied
Dead occult icon Rasputin is reading about Louis XV’s pinprick and going, “You call that an assassination attempt?” Though, to be honest, after the way he was taken out, there’s not many people who can hold a creepy candle to his manner of death. There were a litany of attempts on Rasputin’s life, all of which he managed to evade. Couple that with basically being considered a wizard, and what resulted was the kind of assassination usually reserved for a werewolf, not a court advisor.
Though it’s been questioned as being a little exaggerated for poetic effect, we have a description of the murder from the assassin himself, Felix Yussupov. According to Yussupov, he fed a positively bodacious amount of potassium cyanide filled cakes and wine to Rasputin, who showed absolutely no sign of ill health from the poison, at which point Yussupov panicked, borrowed a revolver and shot him. This also did not work. So, as the tale goes, Yussupov gave up on any form of subtlety, chained Rasputin up and threw him through the ice of a frozen river to drown. Water was found in his lungs during an autopsy, indicating that at least some of this might be true.
Either way, by the time Yussupov was done, Rasputin was deader than a hundred-year-old doornail.