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Sirhan: Hypnotized Patsy...or Terrorist?

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Was Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of the 1968 assassination RFK1, a hypnotized patsy, or an early terrorist?  Or some of both?

Lori Spencer is an RFK1A/JFKA researcher, and recently has been positing that Sirhan was rather the latter. Sirhan harbored deep animosity towards Israel and Jews, and RFK1’s support for the Middle Eastern, largely Jewish nation. 

Spencer recently tweeted on x regarding Sirhan’s mother, who, speaking to reporters soon after the RFK1A, said, “If you look at the map today you will not find Palestine. It has been wiped from the face of the earth. Not only was Sirhan's country taken from him but he was robbed of his childhood."

Sirhan’s contemporary 1968 notebooks contained passages illuminative of his hatred for Jews, and that “RFK must die!” 

Add on, there are reasons to think the Sirhan “hypnosis” story has holes. 

For example, Sirhan said he did not remember what happened in the Ambassador Hotel’s pantry, where he lurked before shooting RFK1 on June 5, 1968. But at one point he slipped up and denied that he had asked anyone the possible pathway of RFK through the pantry. If he did not remember anything, how could he deny he had asked about RFK1's arrival, as per witnesses? 

As recounted by JFKA/RFK1A researcher Larry Hancock:

“On one occasion, Sirhan made an obvious slip. Jesus Perez, a kitchen helper, and waiter Martin Petrusky stated that RFK had passed through the pantry area behind the Embassy ballroom shortly before midnight on his way to speak to the campaign workers. Perez and Petrusky stated that they saw Sirhan in the pantry at this time and stated that Sirhan had asked if RFK would be “coming back through this way.” They both replied that they did not know and stated that Sirhan had remained there, standing near Perez at the corner of a serving table. Sirhan remarked to Kaiser (his lawyer) that he had never done nor said any such thing. Kaiser reminded him that he supposedly remembered nothing of events in the pantry.”


Another problem was the Sirhan also insisted he remembered nothing of his writing in his notebook, though he had been writing in it for five years, long before his putative brainwashing, and on a variety of topics. Evidently Sirhan had delusions of grandeur, imaging he would start a major war that would re-shape America, as recorded in his notebook. 


In addition, Sirhan had companions in the weeks and months leading up to the RFK1A, and was likely stalking RFK1. Sirhan was seen, with those companions, in and around RFK events. That would likely include the polka-dot dress girl, who by the account of multiple and unrelated witnesses, triumphantly and loudly declared “We shot him,” while running from the Ambassador, the night of RFK1 shooting. 

After the RFK1A, Sirhan was interested in what Arab media was printing about him, which was effulgent praise. Sirhan was pleased at the recognition for his act. That appears to be his motivation.

Underlining it all, in 1989 Sirhan was interviewed by David Frost for a TV show, and Sirhan, recorded and filmed, flatly declared he shot RFK1 for the Senator’s stance on Israel. 


Friends said Sirhan also practiced “self-hypnosis” regularly before the RFK1A, and seemed able to project himself into a fugue of sorts. Sirhan may have done that, plus downing four drinks (and he a small guy, a horse jockey, 120 pounds), to steel himself on the night of the RFK1A.

The Washington Post, ever skeptical of assassination conspiracies, printed this in 2018: “Mel Ayton, author of "The Forgotten Terrorist" book  on Sirhan, said, 'The evidence presented during the 1969 trial revealed how Sirhan was fully aware of everything around him on the night he killed Robert Kennedy and that no credible evidence has ever been discovered that would indicate Sirhan’s actions were the product of a hypnotized mind.' He said Sirhan’s previous knowledge of hypnosis enabled him to construct a story that featured convenient memory loss about the shooting and his notebooks”.

But there is the rest of the story….

The "Sirhan was hypnotized" argument has gathered strength over the decades, despite Sirhan having clear and stated motives for his deed (unlike Lee Harvey Oswald, who on the surface had no motives at all).

As the AP reported in 2011, “convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan was manipulated by a seductive girl in a mind control plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bullets did not kill the presidential candidate, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers.”

The crux of the hypnosis story relies upon the interpretations of Daniel Brown, a Harvard scholar, who met with Sirhan in 2008 and succeeding periods, 40 years after the RFK1A. 

In a nutshell, Brown believes that Sirhan was drugged and taken to a secret location for two weeks following a horse-riding accident, for mind-control procedures such as those performed under the CIA’s MK-ULTRA and other programs. 

Brown wrote that the “statements about killing RFK written in Mr. Sirhan’s spiral notebooks,” which Sirhan did not remember writing, “were written by Mr. Sirhan in a hypnotic state and while communicating with a third party over his shortwave radio, and thus were coercively and involuntarily induced.”

Of course, all of Brown’s work is highly speculative. No one knows in fact if Sirhan was taken somewhere for two weeks and successfully brainwashed or was controlled by messages heard on his short-wave radio.

One might have legitimate reservations that Brown or anybody could place Sirhan under hypnosis 40 years after the RFK1A, and extract the true story. 

The Real Story? 

Possibly we get a blending of truths. 

Yes, in fact Sirhan did not actually shoot RFK1, and the LAPD did a snuff job on a true investigation.

See Larry Hancock’s write-up at MFF for great and brief review of the whole story, no need to re-hash here: https://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Essay_-_Incomplete_Justice_-_At_the_Ambassador_Hotel.html

But...also likely Sirhan had co-conspirators, and the LAPD, and other parties influencing the LAPD, wanted to cover that up. 

That suggests that, yes, Sirhan was manipulated, egged on, helped into position and so on—but that the parties assisting Sirhan were somehow linked back to the US intel state. If Sirhan’s companions were other Arabs or fringe-group haters of RFK1, there would be no reason to squash a true investigation into the RFK1A. 

That is what makes the RFK1A important, and part and parcel of the JFKA story. Only an organization with considerable resources and motives could conduct two high-profile assassinations, and then two snuff jobs on intrepid investigations. 

This conclusion does not exonerate Sirhan. He wanted to kill RFK1 and tried, but he was seized after he squeezed off a couple of ineffective shots—although don’t forget, Sirhan horribly injured bystanders by his actions.

No Manchurians?

Another weakness in the “Sirhan as automaton” version is the lack of documented similar assassins in the near 60 years since.  

One would think if a Manchurian candidate (programmed assassin) was possible, then in the last 60 years the technique would have been used for additional assassins, as well as document-thieves and saboteurs.

Not only that, there have been six decades to improve mind-control techniques and related drugs and paraphernalia. Additionally, there are secret and black military organizations in profusion in governments globally. 

But the record of successful Manchurian candidates is scant to nil, from what I can tell. 

If there are solid, credible documented cases of Manchurian assassins, intel-thieves or saboteurs in the last few decades, please write it up here in the EF-JFKA. 

Another Observation

While the number of documented Manchurian candidates since 1968 has been nil or nearly so, we have this charming  tidbit from Wikipedia

According to Fondapol, a French think tank, between 1979 and May 2021, at least 48,035 Islamist terrorist attacks took place worldwide, causing the deaths of at least 210,138 people. 

Which is to say, terrorists are so common as to be banal, and true Manchurian candidates as rare as hen’s teeth.

My guess is Sirhan, a diminutive low-income loveless male in a city and culture that prized looks and money, was easy prey for some enablers. Sirhan wanted to perp the RFK1A, and somebody made sure he participated in the act, if only as a decoy. The polka-dot dress girl must have been remarkably good-looking, so much so that even after a glance she was described as “shapely”, “buxom,” and attractive, although adorned with what seemed to be a fake nose. 

But do not forget, Sirhan ardently desired to subvert democratic processes in his host country, and his gunshots grievously injured many, for which he is responsible.  

Perhaps parole is correct for Sirhan, but I would prefer he tell the whole truth first. 

Who were his companions leading and up to the RFK1A? And shouldn’t he confirm what he told David Frost? 


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This is not about the JFK assassination. I don't know why you insist on going off topic all the time. Is there really no other place for you to have this discussion? Have you really run out of everything that you have to talk about regarding the JFK assassination? 

Please stop.

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6 hours ago, Denny Zartman said:

This is not about the JFK assassination. I don't know why you insist on going off topic all the time. Is there really no other place for you to have this discussion? Have you really run out of everything that you have to talk about regarding the JFK assassination? 

Please stop.


      What's frustrating about Ben Cole's posts is that he persistently ignores facts and informed, scholarly opinions in order to redundantly promote his flawed paradigms.

      I recently advised Ben to finally study the psychological data in the 9th chapter of A Lie Too Big to Fail-- Lisa Pease's stellar analysis of Sirhan's dissociative disorder and hypnotic programming.    Ben's response was to ignore the psychological data and double down on punditry. 

      Ben did the same thing with the psychological data on my, The Curious Case of George Estabrooks, thread-- ignoring the case studies and trolling the thread with his redundant posts denying that Manchurian Candidate programming was possible. 

      Dr. Estabrooks successfully demonstrated-- as described in his 1943 Hypnosis textbook-- that a patient could be hypnotically programmed to fire a gun at someone.  That's Manchurian Candidacy in a nutshell.

      Ben also hasn't grasped the nature of confabulation about post-hypnotic compulsions-- i.e., that programmed subjects typically invent explanations for actions that they perform in response hypnotic suggestions.   For example, Sirhan said he was climbing on the bars of his cell "to get some exercise"--after Dr. Bernard Diamond told him, under hypnosis, that he would, later, climb on the bars of his cell in response to a cue, for which he would have amnesia.

       Explanations can even be hypnotically programmed-- like suggesting to Sirhan, during hypnosis, that he should shoot RFK for "supporting Israel."

      As for the notion of Sirhan being a "terrorist," most people don't know that Sirhan and his family are a Palestinian Orthodox Christians, and that the man has always been meek and docile, as Pease clearly described.

     Secondly, terrorism is not an Orthodox Christian phenomenon.  Murder is antithetical to Orthodox Christianity.  In the Orthodox Byzantine Empire, even soldiers who killed a Moslem in battle had to perform a year of penance (epitimia) before they were allowed to enter a church.

      As Sir Steven Runciman correctly noted in his definitive history of the Crusades, the edict declaring that Crusading Roman Catholics could get into heaven by killing Moslems was Papal-- and was antithetical to traditional Eastern (Orthodox) theology.

      If anything, the indigenous Orthodox Christian natives of the Middle East (Syria, Palestine, and the Egyptian Copts) have been perennial victims of terrorism, not terrorists.


Edited by W. Niederhut
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