1. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Assassinations - what is & isn't realistic?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JadeX, Feb 27, 2016.

    My story deals with an armed resistance against a totalitarian occupational government.
    (Note: Everything about the world in my story is entirely fictional. Nothing we know about the real world applies whatsoever. Different history, everything, nothing is the same.)

    Obviously, as any effective resistance movement would, they are going to have to kill people. Some of these people will, inevitably, be quite high in rank.

    The problem is, I live in a post-9/11 America, so it's impossible for me to imagine anything other than a highly locked-down security state - as far as I'm concerned, politicians exist on an entirely separate plane of reality. Security drills and protocols, snipers on every rooftop, bomb-sniffing dogs, all of that is not only normal to me, but it seems too far-fetched to imagine life without it.

    However, as they say, "truth is stranger than fiction" - and what I'm referring to in particular when I say that would be the 1984 Brighton hotel bombing. Even the Wiki article reads like poorly-thought out fiction at best - the idea that a person could even get into the same building as PM Thatcher (without getting gunned down) is hard enough to believe, but then he planted a bomb and almost killed her? Nonsense! How could this happen!? It's utterly unfathomable from a post-9/11 American POV. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that this actually happened (I'm still in disbelief as I type this).
    Funnily enough, the last line of the Wiki article reads: "From that day forward, all party conferences in this country have become heavily defended citadels."
    ...And I can't help but laugh at that, because I'm used to "heavily-defended citadels" being the default setting for all government operations.

    Yet, things like the Brighton hotel bombing are exactly the kind of thing I want to happen in my book. The fact that something like it actually did happen gives me hope for my story - maybe my resistance fighters do have a chance.

    After learning about this event, I'm completely lost as to what is realistic and what isn't. The post-9/11 age of paranoia has skewed my thinking so completely that I have no idea where to even begin. If a man could walk into Thatcher's hotel with a bomb IN REAL LIFE, then what does implications does that have in FICTION? Could a political figure in my book get stabbed to death in his own home? Can a government office be bombed during a conference? Where, exactly, does the line between "believable fiction" and "utterly nonsensical crap" lie? Just what can I get away with in my story without the reader calling BS on it? (or does that even matter?)

    Basically what I'm asking is this:
    All this over-the-top security that has become the norm in the modern world... how much of it can I strip away without making the government in my book look totally incompetent? (Said government is incredibly arrogant as well, which may help)
    What is the "bare minimum" for fictional security? How easy can I make it for my resistance fighters to take out targets without it being "too easy"?
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
  2. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    There's plenty of ways you can bend the world to fit this situation. You should also keep in mind that even in today's world of high security not every politician has the same level of guards. Do you really think it would be that difficult to murder the mayor of a large city? Sure they have security but it's not going to be The USA President's kind of security. How about the leader of a small country? Do you think a country like Angola could afford top high security? Doubtful, and probably not necessary.
    You also mentioned a totalitarian state. I'm guessing that citizens of that type of regime would not have easy access to modern (modern of your world) weapons. I think it was China that only allowed certain people to carry or even own a sword. If the masses can't get high powered rifles what's the point of spending every moment guarding against snipers. Bomb making supplies might be equally hard for the average joe to get. You can use this scenario and build a sub plot including the great lengths that the MC has to go through just to get a weapon.
    Even in today's environment, high level well guarded people can be killed if the assassin is acting in a suicide capacity. If the killer doesn't need to survive then it would be much easier.
    Then there's always a killing that was brought on by nothing more than random opportunity. Maybe your leader breaks out of a scheduled walk into a building for a meeting and instead walks into the cafe next door for some quick PR pictures. An employee happens to really hate the guy and isn't real stable to begin with and slashes his throat (Maybe that last one is less believable but still with some work it could be written.)

    On a final note: All of the above are completely fictional concepts so for our Homeland Security Overlords please don't arrest me.
    Also, I have nothing against the fine leaders of Angola. They're probably nice people & I personally couldn't even find your country on a map.
     
  3. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You might benefit from researching real assassins, but don't focus only on the USA; look at how assassins have murdered people in Europe, Asia etc.

    It's a long shot (pun intended), but modern sniper rifles can cover crazy distances, well over a mile, so maybe look into the real stories of military snipers because it's those guys and gals who have the world records in confirmed kills from the longest distances. Just remember that skill like that requires years upon years of practice and experience as well as quality gear, intimate knowledge of that gear like which rounds to use and why, which loads, bullets etc. fit that specific rifle the best, how to set up the trigger, how the cold zero differs from the rest of the shots in that individual rifle etc, using support gear like data charts, laser range finders etc. Snipers can be very specific about what gear they use, down to the type of reticle in their expensive scopes etc.

    That's a lot of studying for the author unless you're already an experienced long distance marksman yourself.

    Homemade bombs is another option, but their weakness is that you need to get close and confirming the kill might be more difficult especially if you don't have a clear visual on the target during the explosion whereas an experienced sniper can usually be more certain of their success or failure because they had a direct visual on the target when they squeezed off the round.

    Just a few things to consider.
     
  4. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    As someone from Britain, our stuff still isn't that heavily guarded. After a few years of the IRA, we kinda got used to it and stopped caring. When the London Underground was bombed, people were back on the trains the day after. Not to mention our power structure isn't as centralised as the US's, meaning if we lose one person not everything stops.

    Anyway, back to the main topic. Depending on the tech level, you could make a lot of the security autonomous at the start, things that could be hacked, and then as the story progresses, have it become more and more human. That way its not incompetence, its just people are harder to remove than drones.
     
  5. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe the otganization could contact an insider? If it's a totalitarian government, loads of people are only on their best behaviors to avoid incarceration, aye? Perhaps one of the guards at a public speaking wants to get rid of one of these "high ranks", and he agrees to help you as long as you provide him security and payment.

    If you think this sounds unrealistic, a couple of Hitler's inner circle officers tried to assassinate him. The suicide bomb attempt comes to mind.
     
  6. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    The sky's the limit, really. The inventiveness of those who want someone else dead knows no bounds. Alexander Litvinenko was assassinated, almost certainly by the Russian FSB, using polonium-210. Poisoning could work well for your guerilla movement, as people on these officials' staffs might be sympathetic to the cause. By the same token, insiders could gather quite a bit of information for more general spy work.
     
  7. AManWithAShovel
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    AManWithAShovel New Member

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    Make it so that during the process of whatever your resistance is doing, assassination or other wise, something goes wrong. E.G. guy with bomb doesn't show up/ weapons jam. And make it so that they'll have to improvise. Ending the story with them succeeding but on a close call and with some casualties work well.
     
  8. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Good point that a government that isn't expecting attack (due to the level of control they have - or think they have - over the citizens) may not have the kind of security we have in the modern "free world". And like I said, this government tends to be somewhat arrogant as well, so that could also play into their illusion of security.

    When this uprising starts to take off, it won't be one organized front with communication and teamwork - it will work up to that eventually, but in the beginning, I want the populace to be inspired to commit their own lone wolf attacks, to prove to everyone that "one person can make a difference" - to make it easy for the average citizen to contribute in their own way. Logically, the first thing that pops into my head is knives - everyone has one in their kitchen, after all - but would it be feasible for average citizens, likely with no government connections, to attack government officials? And where might these attacks take place - in a government office, at an event, or even in their own homes?
    (I think the latter would be the most dramatic and would really strike fear into the heart of the occupation, but is such a thing believable?)
     
  9. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I would use a ranged weapon, considering getting close to those in power is nearly impossible. Unless you use a female to do it (i know that sounds sexist, but hear me out). China has been training female assassins for quite a while now, so look into it a bit. It would be much easier to get close to a power player as a woman, because they are regarded as the 'weaker sex' and won't be seen as a threat. If you are going to use a man, go with ranged weaponry (pistol, rifle, bow and arrow if you like), and you will have a safe enough distance between the assassin and the target. This will give them enough time to get out of the area while the panic ensues, giving them a chance to utilize the chaos to escape virtually unnoticed. Depending on what gender, each has strengths and weaknesses. Depends on where and how you are going to hit them. House or Event will be the best places to stage an attack, as the office will be crawling with security and make it harder to get in and get out. Events offer crowds to hide in, and there home will be more lax on security. Gives you a wide range of ways to take them out. Have fun, and hope you will find a good many methods of assassinating your chosen key targets. :p
     
  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    As has been mentioned, don't just look at the USA...but check out the assassination of JFK, good example of a ranged weapon. Or the shooting of Ronald Reagan. Or, the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, good example of a successful attempt in a security-paranoid country by desperately-determined men.

    As a side-note to @halisme's comment about the UK situation, our gun control means that weapons aren't freely available, so anyone with a weapon is automatically either on the radar or breaking the law - and liable to arrest for simply having an unlicensed gun...and then your paranoid government can put them through whatever interrogation mill you see fit.

    Or, maybe, your terrorists have to be more imaginative with their weaponry (crossbow?) or techniques for getting close. E.g., plant explosives in the presidential bunker, then create a panic where the president hides "for safety", then...poof!

    You can also throw in a conspiracy theory twist by having the suggestion that the assassination/attempt was the work of a rival for the president's position.
     

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