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  • John Wilkes Booth.

  • Lee Harvey Oswald.

  • Charles Guiteau.

  • Leon Czolgosz.

  • Their names went down in infamy as the men who killed Presidents.

  • But other would-be assassins faded into history - because their targets survived.

  • These are ten failed assassinations that didn't quite hit their target.

  • #10.

  • Canadian Prime MInister's Close Call

  • Jean Chretien was the Prime Minister of Canada for ten years, a well-regarded Liberal Party

  • mainstay.

  • He didn't have many enemies - that people knew of.

  • But one young man from Quebec was developing a disturbing obsession.

  • Andre Dallaire was a paranoid schizophrenic who had quit his job after stealing from the

  • grocery store, and soon disappeared off the map.

  • When he next surfaced, he arrived at 24 Sussex Drive, the home of the Canadian Prime Minister

  • - holding a pocket knife - and quickly broke in while Chretien and his wife were sleeping.

  • They seemed to be sitting ducks - but Dallaire made one miscalculation.

  • The would-be assassin hadn't planned out his kill too well.

  • With only one small weapon, he was surprised when Aline Chretien spotted him, woke her

  • husband, and locked them both in the bedroom.

  • She called the police and tried to convince the groggy Prime Minister that she wasn't

  • dreaming about the intruder!

  • Dallaire never tried to break down the door, and was wandering around the house when the

  • police arrived.

  • He was found not guilty due to reason of insanity and committed to a mental asylum before being

  • released to a group home.

  • The Chretiens were unharmed, but the incident led to many people arguing that Canada's

  • PM needed better security.

  • But this next assassination attempt was much more high-tech.

  • #9.

  • Khaled Meshaal's Bad Earache

  • Khaled Meshaal had made himself no shortage of enemies by 1997.

  • The leader of the the Palestinian militant group Hamas, he was seen as an avowed enemy

  • of Israel and a thorn in the side of Jordan - where he lived since fleeing Israel after

  • the Six-Day War.

  • He organized frequent terror attacks against Israel from the safety of Jordan, culminating

  • in the bombing of a Jerusalem market that killed sixteen.

  • Israel's security forces quickly responded - sending Mossad agents into Jordan to assassinate

  • Meshaal.

  • Their weapon of choice?

  • An aerosol poison that they sprayed into his ear.

  • The only problem?

  • Getting back out.

  • The poison worked, and Meshaal quickly became very sick.

  • It looked like the Mossad operation would be successful - but the agents had been captured

  • by Meshaal's bodyguards.

  • And so began a tense negotiation between Israel and Jordan.

  • King Hussein of Jordan demanded Israel turn over the antidote, while Israel demanded the

  • release of their agents.

  • It took the intervention of US President Bill Clinton to convince Israel's Prime Minister

  • to turn over the antidote before the recent peace deal between the two countries fell

  • apart, and Meshaal lived - only to be expelled from Jordan several years later by Hussein's

  • successor.

  • Almost twenty years earlier, the United States was nearly upended by...a movie fan?

  • #8.

  • Ronald Reagan's Cliffhanger

  • When Ronald Reagan swept into office in a 1980 landslide, he was already controversial

  • as one of the most conservative Presidents in modern history.

  • But his closest call with death didn't come from a political enemy - it came from a deranged

  • man named John Hinckley who was obsessed with teen movie star Jodie Foster.

  • He wanted to be noticed by her, so he decided to become famous in 1981 - by stalking President

  • Reagan and ambushing him after a speech, shooting him along with his press secretary, a policeman,

  • and a Secret Service agent.

  • It was a tragically familiar scenario - but with an unexpected outcome.

  • It had only been eighteen years since the last Presidential assassination, but medical

  • science had advanced a lot.

  • Reagan's injuries were serious, including a punctured lung and internal bleeding, but

  • surgeons were able to save his life and he left the hospital two weeks later.

  • Ultimately, none of the four victims died.

  • But the controversy over this incident was far from over - Hinckley would later be found

  • not guilty by reason of insanity, and would spend the next thirty-six years in a mental

  • hospital before being declared rehabilitated.

  • But several hundred years earlier, a much larger assassination plot was hatched.

  • #7.

  • Of Gunpowder Treason and Plot

  • It was 1605, and King James I sat on the throne of England - with no small amount of controversy.

  • The country's Roman Catholics had been repressed ever since the ascent of the Church of England,

  • and a militant group sought to overthrow the King and replace him with his nine-year-old

  • daughter as a Catholic queen.

  • While the plot was led by Robert Catesby, it would be more associated with one radical

  • member - the veteran and explosives expert Guy Fawkes.

  • The target of their plot?

  • The entire structure of government, by blowing up the House of Lords at the ceremonial opening

  • of Parliament.

  • But sometimes, the biggest plot can be undone by a single spanner in the works.

  • It was October 26th, 1605, when William Parker, the 4th Baron of Monteagle, received an anonymous

  • letter explaining the entire plot.

  • Was it a conspirator with second thoughts, or a loyalist who stumbled upon the plot?

  • It has never been discovered, but when the House of Lords was searched, they found Fawkes

  • guarding thirty-six barrels of gunpowder - more than enough to obliterate the entire building.

  • While the conspirators attempted to flee London, several were shot and killed by pursuing officers,

  • and the others - including the notorious Fawkes - were executed for treason.

  • And even five hundred years later, the anniversary of the foiling of the plot has become a popular

  • British festival.

  • This next assassin was foiled by an unfortunate fact of nature.

  • #6.

  • FDR's Short Shot

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt had just been elected in a landslide, and many feared he would be

  • a radical left-wing President.

  • Rumors abounded of a planned coup by bankers and businessmen, but only one assassination

  • plot actually emerged - and it was anything but a well-organized plot.

  • Giuseppe Zangara was a struggling Italian immigrant who suffered from chronic pain and

  • couldn't keep a job.

  • The exact nature of his grudge against Roosevelt is unknown, but seventeen days before the

  • President Elect's inauguration, he attended a speech of his in Miami - while carrying

  • a revolver with intent to kill.

  • But he needed an accessory - and that would be his undoing.

  • Zangara was a short man, only five feet tall, and he needed a clear shot at Roosevelt.

  • So he pulled out an old metal folding chair and stood on top of it to get a clean shot.

  • As soon as he fired his first shot, bystanders grabbed him and yanked him down.

  • Zangara fired wildly into the crowd, hitting five people - none of them President-Elect

  • Roosevelt.

  • The one fatality?

  • The Mayor of Chicago, Anton Cernak.

  • While Zangara hadn't killed a President, he did kill a prominent politician - and that

  • was enough to send him to the electric chair after only ten days on death row.

  • But FDR wasn't the only Roosevelt to have a close call with death.

  • #5.

  • The Longest Speech of Theodore Roosevelt

  • It was 1912, and former President Theodore Roosevelt was attempting a comeback.

  • Always controversial, Roosevelt had made many new enemies with his decision to leave the

  • Republicans and start his ownBull Mooseparty.

  • But his deadliest enemy wouldn't be a political enemy - but a former Saloonkeeper named John

  • Schrank.

  • Schrank had hallucinated the late President William McKinley in a dream, who supposedly

  • told him to avenge his assassination - by going after Roosevelt, who ascended to the

  • Presidency after McKinley's death.

  • And so Schrank stalked Roosevelt to the Gilpatrick hotel, where Roosevelt was having dinner before

  • a speech.

  • As Roosevelt waved to the crowd, Schrank took aim and fired.

  • But he underestimated the grit of Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Roosevelt was hit, with the bullet passing through his eyeglass case and lodging in his

  • chest - but not deep enough to penetrate any vital organs.

  • Bleeding but still conscious, Roosevelt kept the crowd from lynching Schrank, then assured

  • his bodyguards that he was fine and asked to br driven to his speech.

  • He spoke for ninety minutes before agreeing to receive medical attention, including the

  • famous lineLadies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have

  • just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose”.

  • Interviews with Schrank after the assassination attempt indicated that he had delusions of

  • grandeur, and he was declared to be unfit to stand trial and institutionalized until

  • his death in 1943.

  • But one would-be assassin had a much more destructive plan.

  • #4.

  • Terror From the Air

  • Samuel Byck was an unlikely choice for a would-be Presidential assassin.

  • A former Army veteran who was honorably discharged and a father of four children, he seemed like

  • a stable man - but after a divorce and financial troubles, he spiraled into depression.

  • He became obsessed with the Nixon administration and blamed them for his financial woes, even

  • sending them threatening letters over being denied for a loan.

  • But the Secret Service considered him harmless and dismissed the case.

  • He turned out to be anything but harmless in 1974.

  • Byck planned to assassinate Nixon - but he didn't want to be just another gunman.

  • He decided to hijack a plane and crash it into the White House.

  • He stole a revolver from a friend, built a homemade bomb, and made several audio tapes

  • full of rambling justifications for his attack.

  • At the Baltimore/Washington International Airport, he shot and killed a policeman before

  • boarding a Delta flight to Atlanta.

  • He would then shoot the pilots when they told him they couldn't take off yet, and then

  • ordered a passenger to fly the plane.

  • Before he could take off, he was surrounded by police.

  • Police shot and wounded him, and Byck shot himself before they could arrest him.

  • In the end, one of America's most ambitious would-be assassins was undone by one simple

  • problem - it's not that easy to steal a plane.

  • But sometimes, a much smaller problem can derail an assassination.

  • #3.

  • The Doubly Unlucky Assassin

  • It was 1835, and the relatively new United States had not seen an assassination attempt.

  • That was about to change with the ascent of controversial populist Andrew Jackson to the

  • Presidency.

  • Richard Lawrence was a simple house painter, but over the years his behavior changed to

  • become more violent and erratic.

  • Many speculate that the chemicals in paint might have contributed to his mental illness,

  • and he became convinced that he was owed money from the US Government.

  • He blamed Andrew Jackson's opposition to a national bank - but in reality it was more

  • likely because he wasn't actually an English king who died centuries ago, as he believed.

  • But these delusions grew more severe, and he started stalking Jackson until he planned

  • to ambush him at a Congressman's funeral - with two pistols.

  • But he was about to become famous for a very different reason.

  • In 1835, Presidential security was rudimentary, and Lawrence was easily able to get close

  • to Jackson.

  • He stepped out, aimed his pistol, and fired at the President - and the gun misfired.

  • He quickly drew his second pistol - only for it to misfire as well.

  • Old guns were vulnerable to moisture and the weather that day was damp, but Lawrence had

  • no chance to fix the problem - because President Jackson began beating him with his cane.

  • The crowd eventually intervened, but it's not clear whose life they were saving.

  • At his trial, Lawrence was obviously not well, still insisting he was Richard III, and was

  • quickly sent to an insane asylum for the rest of his life.

  • This next assassination attempt was right out of an action movie.

  • #2.

  • The Wild Ride of Charles De Gaulle

  • Charles de Gaulle had a long and storied career in French politics, which was approaching

  • its last act in the 1960s.

  • But he made some powerful enemies when he decided to accept Algeria's declaration

  • of independence and end its status as a French colony.

  • The OAS, or Organisation Armee Secrete, was a far-right paramilitary group formed during

  • the Algerian War, and they saw de Gaulle as a traitor.

  • They made several attempts on de Gaulle's life, but it was the third that would become

  • the most famous.

  • Led by prominent French veteran and engineer Jean Bastien-Thiery, who served as a lookout,

  • three shooters armed with machine guns followed de Gaulle's entourage - and opened fire.

  • What happened next was one of the craziest escapes from an assassination in history.

  • The high-powered automatic weapons strafed de Gaulle's car with bullets, along with

  • countless nearby shops.

  • But de Gaulle, his wife, and his entire entourage escaped unharmed - despite fourteen bullet

  • holes being found in the car.

  • De Gaulle would credit the tough-as-nails Citroen DS car, but whether it was the car

  • or just good luck, he would serve several more years as France's President.

  • Bastien-Thiery, meanwhile, would go before a military tribunal and ultimately become

  • the final French convict to face a firing squad.

  • Many failed assassinations spared a prominent leader - but this final one had the chance

  • to end a World War.

  • #1.

  • The July 20th Plot

  • It was 1944, and it was becoming clear that Nazi Germany was losing the war.

  • The German war machine put the blame squarely in one direction - the absolute dictator of

  • Germany, Adolf Hitler.

  • Some of his top military men believed Hitler's crimes against humanity were a disgrace to

  • the country and they wished to restore the country's First World War prestige.

  • The plot had been building when it was joined by Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg,

  • a wounded veteran and arch-conservative, who would ultimately lead the assassination attempt.

  • But it was about to go terribly wrong.

  • The plan had many layers.

  • First, von Stauffenberg would assassinate Hitler with a planted bomb.

  • The many members of German military leadership would quickly spread the word that Hitler

  • was dead and use that opportunity to install a new government led by aristocrats and military

  • leaders that would be able to win the war.

  • But after von Stauffenberg planted the bomb, a Colonel accidentally moved it, shielding

  • Hitler and leading him to only be injured.

  • The coup failed as soon as word got out that Hitler was alive, the conspirators were arrested,

  • and almost five thousand were executed including von Stauffenberg - and many political enemies

  • of Hitler, as the mad dictator's regime would continue for another ten months.

  • For more on the most famous assassination of all, check outWhy Did Abraham Lincoln's

  • Secret Service Fail?”, or watchInsane But True Story of a Real Life Assassin

  • for a look at what it takes to kill high-profile targets.

John Wilkes Booth.

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10 Crazy Assassination Attempts That Failed Totally Failed

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    Summer posted on 2021/08/02