Umbrellas – Rainy Day Weapons

by L-Johnson

Movies depict a typical spy wearing a trench coat, now we know we also have to beware of their umbrellas.

One of the most notorious acts of assassination during the Cold War was carried out by using one of the most covert weapons available. This deadly device is portable, lightweight, collapsible, and brings bad luck if you use it indoors – that’s right, I’m referring to the umbrella.

Georgi Markov, a writer and broadcaster who openly criticized the Bulgarian regime, was murdered in 1978, after two previous failed assassination attempts by agents of the Bulgarian secret police, assisted by the KGB. Markov was waiting at a bus stop to take the bus to his job at the BBC. He felt a slight sharp pain on the back of his right thigh, and turned around to see a large man bending down to pick up his black umbrella. The man apologized in a thick foreign accent, then hurriedly crossed the street and got into a taxi.

After Markov got to work, he noticed a painful red pimple, similar to a bug bite, had formed at the area of the sting he felt earlier. That evening, he developed a fever and was admitted to a hospital where he died three days later. What had caused his death was a tiny poisoned metal pellet about 1.5mm in diameter, which was shot into his calf by the umbrella, which has been customized into a sophisticated umbrella-gun, with an air compression chamber in the shaft ejecting the pellet when triggered from the umbrella handle. The miniature pellet contained ricin, a toxin that slowly released into Markov’s bloodstream.

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