The purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed for Allah.
— Ruhollah Khomeini (attr) in reference to
the Iran-Iraq War of 1978-79, c David
Reed in Reader's Digest, August 1984
Special agent unit, with the ability to bribe and kill
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The most feared of all agents, Fedayeen (or in Arabic, "those who volunteer" or "those who sacrifice themselves") are as lethal as they are stealthy. Able to bribe units, sneak around, and armed with a powerful melee attack, Fedayeen often rival the Orsini line of the Papal States, but unlike the Orsini archers which are hired killers, Fedayeen also have the ability to incite unrest by bribing enemy units to join your side.
Unfortunately, the use of Fedayeen has its own drawbacks. Firstly, a Nobles' Court must be built early on, although it is noted that any Muslim faction capable of accessing the White Tower wonder early on will be able to create them. Secondly, like many agents, they all fall foul of the same enemies - outposts and Eunuchs' Courts can identify them at a glance. Equally, other agent-type units are capable of locating them too, including the much-feared Papal Inquisitor, whose job is to root out dissent. They equally are unable to conduct counterintelligence, meaning that Muslim players must often accompany them with spies, or otherwise find an area devoid of Papal Inquisitors or scout-type units (such as the Welsh Helwyr) in order to get to work. However, sometimes this sacrifice is most needed. Against factions that rely on chivalric-order type units such as Scandinavia, or which rely on supply such as the Holy Roman Empire, these units can often cause chaos, psychologically demoralising your enemy. Alternatively, Fedayeen can be used alongside your troops as flanquers - as these units come cloaked, they are capable of vicious ambush attacks that can put off any enemy assault.
There is a rumoured branch of fedayeen, known as the "asasiyeen" or "hashishin", once extant throughout Syria and Persia, consisting of Shiites. Considered by mainstream Sunni society as religious deviants, they were called "hashishin" either because they were religious fundamentalists, or users of hashish, also known as marijuana. The truth of this matter is unknown and may never be known, given that they were put to the sword by Mongols and Sunni Muslims alike throughout the 13th century, but rumour has it that they yet exist, plying their deadly trade, and plotting for revenge throughout the Mediterranean and Central Asia ...
- Ghost — A Fedayeen's strength is in stealth, and its fearsome abilities. Use them to infiltrate enemy lines, and take out individual targets. Unlike spies that de-cloak and lose their abilities once finished, Fedayeen are dangerous even after successfully bribing their targets.
- Keep Under Wraps — The main enemy of Fedayeen are scout-type units, such as the Welsh teulu archers or the Papal States' Papal Inquisitors. It is often better to use a mix of spies and Fedayeen to avoid problems later on.
- Ambush! — Fedayeen can be made a component of your own army. Use them to ambush enemy units on the way to the front, or as flanking troops with your mercenaries — their powerful attack already means that they can effectively "backstab" a victim from behind.
- Keeping Your Hands Clean — Because Fedayeen are so feared and have such a reputation, they may not be recruited from a Fortress-type building, but from your Nobles' Court.
- Hashishin — Beyond the ambit of Islamic states, a variant of the Fedayeen, the Hashishin, is recruitable by various other factions.
Despite achieving great feats, Islamic society in the Middle East was oft wracked with great political instability as the qabila, or tribe, often stubbornly persisted in Arab society despite Islam's injunctions to universal brotherhood. Even during the era of Rashidin caliphs, there were uprisings in southern Arabia, and schisms in doctrine and political interests. Although caliph Abu Bakar was sufficiently fortunate to end his reign dying peacefully, his other successors were not so lucky — all three of them would be among the first in a long line of Muslim potentates downed by assassins.