The pen is truly mightier than the sword – these immortal words were spoken by Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson playing The Joker in the 1989 blockbuster, Batman.
Here’s my Top Ten Tyrants of Terror who abandoned the journalist’s pen for a bloody campaign of terror.
Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
He was a journalist in Trento, which was part of the old Austria Hungary empire before forming his brutal fascist party in Italy.
He was formerly editor of the socialist party’s newspaper, The Future of the Worker, and edited another paper, The People, before the Great War in 1914.
During his reign of terror as dictator, he unleashed lethal chemical weapons, including the deadly mustard gas, against natives in the African nation of Ethiopia, murdering thousands of innocent civilians.
Mussolini was eventually captured by communist partisan fighters in April 1945, shot dead, and his body hung upside down in public.
Fascist Blueshirt leader Ernest Blythe.
Originally from Lisburn in Co Antrim, the Protestant nationalist Blythe worked as a reporter with the North Down Herald, before joining the Irish Volunteers.
He was a strong supporter of the Treaty which partitioned Ireland and was a finance minister in President W T Cosgrove’s first Southern government.
However, he abandoned democracy in 1933 after losing his Dail seat and teamed up with General Eoin O’Duffy’s violently fascist Blueshirt movement.
As a leading light in the Blueshirts, Blythe championed the cause of Irishmen going to Spain to fight with Spanish fascist boss General Franco, who also enjoyed the support of Nazi Party dictator Adolf Hitler. Blythe died in 1975.
Sinn Fein founder Arthur Griffith.
A journalist by trade, he co-founded the weekly United Irishman newspaper, but it collapsed in 1906 after a libel action. He re-founded the newspaper, entitling it Sinn Fein.
The previous year, Griffith had founded a similar militant terror organisation using the same name. Sinn Fein, the weekly newspaper, briefly became a daily title in 1909, but was eventually shut down by the British in 1914 with the start of the Great War.
He died in 1922, a year after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which partitioned Ireland.
German terrorist Ulrike Meinhof.
In the 1970s, the journalist formed the Far Left Red Army Faction terrorist group with her colleague Andreas Baader.
The death squad, also dubbed the Baader Meinhof Gang, was responsible for numerous murders and bombings in West Germany in the early to mid Seventies.
However, following her capture, she was found dead in her jail cell in May 1976, hanging from a rope made from prison towels.
Newspaper baron Francis Joy.
He helped found the News Letter, one of the oldest English language newspapers in Europe.
But under his guidance, the paper helped inspire the violent United Irishmen’s movement which sparked a bloody rebellion in 1798 in a bid to copy the equally blood thirsty French Revolution almost a decade earlier.
Although Joy died eight years before the rebellion erupted, his writings were crucial in forming the bond between Catholic and Presbyterian which the Society of United Irishmen created.
The United Irishmen’s revolt was put down with harsh brutality from English troops in a military vendetta none seen in Ireland since the purges against Catholics by Oliver Cromwell in the 1640s.
Communist freedom fighter Che Guevara.
His image in the combat beret has made him an icon especially among Left wing students.
Next to former Cuban president Fidel Castro, ‘Che’ is perhaps the best known figure in global communist terrorism.
His father was Ernesto Guevara Lynch, who lived for a time in Galway. ‘Che’ has been described by many of his supporters as a writer.
Many of his articles and speeches between 1959 and 1964 describe some of his experiences as a guerrilla fighter.
He was captured during a peasant revolt in the South American nation of Boliva and shot dead in 1967.
Jew hater Julius Streicher.
As one of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s right hand men, Streicher published the vehemently anti-Jewish newspaper Der Sturmer.
A key member of the Nazi propaganda machine, he was one of the principal architects in stirring up hatred against Jews which sparked the Holocaust in which six million died.
Captured at the end of World War Two, he was convicted of war crimes at the Nuremburg trails and executed with the hangman’s noose in 1946.
Nazi broadcaster William Joyce.
He originally came from Galway, but went to Britain in 1934 where he became director of propaganda for the pro-Hitler British Union of Fascists, dubbed the Blackshirts, which were led by Oswald Mosley.
He fled to Nazi Germany in August 1939 before the outbreak of World War Two where he got a job as a pro-Nazi radio broadcaster.
Joyce was branded Lord Haw-Haw by the British public, and began his Nazi broadcasts with his catchphrase “Germany calling, Germany calling.”
After the war, he was brought back to Britain where he was convicted of high treason and executed by hanging in January 1946.
Loyalist terrorist John McKeague.
Editor of the staunchly anti-Catholic hate sheet, Loyalist News.
He went on to found the viciously sectarian death squad, the Red Hand Commandoes, which had close ties to the banned killer units of the UVF.
At one time, McKeague worshipped at former Stormont First Minister and DUP leader Rev Ian Paisley senior’s Free Presbyterian Church.
An open homosexual, McKeague was also a close associate of convicted gay paedophile William McGrath, known as the Beast of Kincora and founder of the equally vehemently anti-Catholic terror group, Tara.
As a practising homosexual, McKeague was believed to have known who in the Unionist establishment was allegedly involved in the sexual abuse of young boys in the east Belfast Kincora home.
He was shot dead by the INLA in January 1982 before he had an opportunity to give his evidence.
Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
Began his working life as a reporter before joining the Nazi Party, rising to Hitler’s head of propaganda.
The man who was the Nazis’ words smith ironically organised the first of Germany’s book burnings in 1933. He also used his journalist skills to try and justify the Holocaust.
A fanatical Nazi, he committed suicide in Berlin along with his equally evil wife Magda after they had poisoned their six children in Hitler’s bunker.
Listen to religious commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.30 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online at www.thisissunshine.com