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This Happened

This Happened — May 13: Papal Assassination Attempt

Mehmet Ali Ağca attempted to kill Pope John Paul II on this day in 1981 in St. Peter's Square.

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Who was Mehmet Ali Ağca?

Mehmet Ali Ağca was a Turkish national who was a member of the extremist right-wing organization known as the Grey Wolves.

Why did Mehmet Ali Ağca try to kill Pope John Paul II?

Mehmet Ali Ağca's motive for attempting to assassinate the Pope remains unclear. However, he later claimed that he was acting on orders from God and once hinted that he was following orders of communist agents of the Soviet KGB and Bulgarian secret service.

Was Pope John Paul II injured in the assassination attempt?

Pope John Paul II was shot four times by Mehmet Ali Ağca but survived the attack. He underwent surgery and spent several weeks in the hospital before making a full recovery.

What happened to Mehmet Ali Ağca after the assassination attempt?

Mehmet Ali Ağca was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in Italy for the attempted assassination of the Pope. He served 19 years in prison before being pardoned by the Italian government in 2000 at the request of the Vatican. Ağca was later extradited to Turkey, where he served additional time in prison for the murder of a journalist. He was released from prison in 2010. Famously, John Paul met with and forgave Ağca two years after the shooting.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

War History Shows Why Russia Is Doomed In Southern Ukraine: Supply Lines

Many factors may soon align and force Russia to withdraw troops from Southern Ukraine, independent Russian publication Important Stories argues in an in-depth report on the situation on the ground.

Photograph of Russian soldiers taking part in a military exercise t a training ground of the Russian Central Military District

September 15, 2023: Russian assault units take part in a military exercise

Vazhnye Istorii


A century and a half ago, during the American Civil War of 1861–1865, the foundations of modern warfare were laid out, marking the transition to large-scale, industrial-era armies.

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Innovations like the telegraph played a pivotal role, enabling coordinated operations across vast distances and swift responses to changing battle scenarios. The advent of breech-loading firearms and rifled artillery disrupted traditional infantry formations, driving soldiers into trenches for protection.

Meanwhile, the introduction of all-metal warships and the first use of submarines in combat hinted at the future of naval warfare. Balloons were employed for battlefield observation and reconnaissance, foreshadowing the era of aerial warfare.

Over the next five decades, automatic weapons, tanks, and aircraft further transformed the landscape of warfare. However, the most revolutionary and foundational innovation was the utilization of railways for the transportation and supply of troops. In 1862, the US Military Railroad Agency pioneered this concept, marking a historic milestone in military history.

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