This Albanian assassin is as close to a real “John Wick” as you can get
Julian Sinanaj is hardly a name on par with John Wick or Keanu Reeves in terms of name recognition, but in terms of sheer badassery, few can compare. Unlike the comics or movies, where John Wick takes down bad guys as fast as he is ruthless, this real-world assassin does the same thing in real life, just as fast and just as ruthless.
Sinanaj is a lone hitman who operated out of Greece for many years and later moved to Albania. Trained by Russia, he followed a strict code: don’t tell anyone or you’ll get yourself killed.
Little was known about Sinanaj until he was arrested in 2014 by Albanian police in the city of Tirana as he was about to carry out a contract with a local businessman. Even then, the lid remained closed on his operation until his trial in 2015. In his home, they found an arsenal of weapons and a stash of C-4s.
In addition to his training with Russian intelligence or special forces (no one knows exactly which ones), Sinanaj trained to shoot equally well, as a sniper, with both hands. He also took courses in criminology to learn how to cover his tracks so that the police could not trace the crimes back to him.
He also had a few rules for his particular line of dirty work. He would never accept a contract while angry for any reason, especially if he was angry at the target. He also would not shoot a target if the subject’s wife or children were with him.
Sinanaj admitted to some of his crimes during the trial. He confessed to being an assassin or participating in a series of contract killings in Albania over the previous two years. He killed two businessmen with guns in a gang war and planted explosives under the cars of two Albanian government officials.
Businessmen, it has been discovered, are playing hardball in Albania. In order to eliminate their competitors in the country’s growing construction industries, prominent companies have hired assassins to purposefully assassinate competing business leaders. Sinanaj was paid both in real money, up to 150,000 euros per move, and in real estate.
Prior to moving to Albania, police believe Julian Sinanaj operated from Athens, Greece, for 15 years. While there, he committed an alleged number of assassinations estimated at 20. This earned him the nickname “The Cleaner”.
To hire Julian Sinanaj, all one had to do was send an email to his Gmail account, named after a famous communist children’s film, “Beni Walks By Himself”. Once payment was made, the target was summarily wiped out and Sinanaj was left on his own – usually able to kill again.
One particular deal that ended his career as a hitman was when his girlfriend suddenly reported him to investigators. She was the one who provided an address where he kept his weapons and explosives. There they also found detailed notes and photos of his targets.
When the police moved towards him in the midst of a blow, Sinanaj surrendered without a fight. He admitted to his Albanian murders, using C-4s, pistols and even AK-47s with precision shooting, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.