The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Isma'ilis
For hundreds of years Westerners have been fascinated by stories of the Assassins, their mysterious leader and their remote mountain stronghold at Alamut in Northern Iran. The legends first emerged in the 12th and 13th centuries, when Crusaders in Syria came into contact with the Nazari Isma'ilis, one of the communities of Shi'ite Islam who, at the behest of their leader Hassan Sabaa (mythologized as the ""Old Man of the Mountain""), engaged in dangerous missions to kill their enemies. Elaborated over the years, the tales culminated in Marco Polo's claim that the ""Old Man"" controlled the behaviour of his self-sacrificing devotees through the use of hashish and a secret garden of paradise. So influential were these tales that the word ""assassin"" entered European languages as a common noun meaning ""murderer"".
The Ismailis in History and in Mediaeval Muslim Writings
Mediaeval European Perceptions of Islam and the Ismailis
Origins and Early Formation of the Legends
Silvestre de Sacys Memoir on the Assassins