February 15, 1905 | Assassination of Russian Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich

On this day in 1905 Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was targeted for assassination by Russian revolutionaries.

Many may not think that modern-day anarchists pose much of a security threat: that was not always the case

If I were to ask you to tell me what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see the word ‘anarchy’, how would you respond? What images do you conjure up to embody this word, which stems from the Greek phrase ‘ an absence of order or rule’?

I am fairly sure you could point to a whole bunch of countries which are currently suffering from a lack of governance, law or stability: Libya comes to mind but there are many others as well.

What about anarchy as terrorism? We tend to see modern-day terrorism as largely of the Islamist variety, and for good reason in light of the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of deaths from those actors, especially over the last three to four decades.

But Islamists are not the only ones killing and maiming. Other ideologies too are interested in causing mayhem in support of a ’cause’. Among those are anarchists.

Today groups like the Black Bloc are perhaps the best known examples of anarchist violent extremists. Generally speaking, they are fairly tame, however, when compared to their late 19th century-early 20th century counterparts. Anarchists killed dozens of world leaders during that time period and one in particular, Gavrilo Princip, lit the match that launched WWI.

On this day in 1905 Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was targeted for assassination by Russian revolutionaries who held off when they noticed that there were children in the carriage taking him to the Bolshoi Theatre. Two days later, on February 17, a nitroglycerin bomb was thrown into his carriage ‘blowing him to bits’.

sergei alexandrovich
The Grand Duke, painted before his head disappeared (Photo: Public Domain)

The litany of attacks committed by anarchists is not limited to Russia of course. I recommend that my readers consult the works of American terrorism scholar David Rapoport in this regard. The list of high profile victims is impressive.

Anarchists boasted of their ‘propaganda of the deed’ (i.e. their acts were in themselves statements). This assassination was a significant incident – ‘in-deed’.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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