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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
death squad
▪ The death squad published a statement claiming they would cut off the head of every Committee member.
▪ This was the group, formally under army control, that operated as a death squad during the rule of Ferdinand Marcos.
▪ Those trained allegedly formed a death squad which directed its activity against pro-ANC activists.
death squad

n. An armed group that carries out clandestine killings.

death squad

n. a clandestine military or paramilitary team who murder political dissidents or petty criminals (usually with the government's tacit approval)

Death squad

A death squad is an armed group that conducts extrajudicial killings or forced disappearances of persons for the purposes of political repression, genocide, or revolutionary terror. These killings are often conducted in ways meant to ensure the secrecy of the killers' identities. Death squads may have the support of domestic or foreign governments (see state terrorism). They may comprise a secret police force, paramilitary groups, government soldiers, policemen, or combinations thereof. They may also be organized as vigilantes. When death squads are not controlled by the state, they may consist of insurgent forces or organized crime.

Historically, the origins of what are modernly known as 'death squads' goes back many decades to the Bolshevik Cheka as a part of the Red Terror in Russia. The Cheka were initially a party organization and later were given official powers and authority for extrajudicial secret arrest, internment, and execution. They ultimately institutionailized the practices into the Gulag system.

Einsatzgruppen were used by Nazi Germany as a part of the Holocaust. The Nazi squads, composed of police officers mixed in with other agents, killed Jewish civilians and political opponents, going through captured territory that the regular German army had previously taken.

Death Squad (comics)

The Death Squad is a fictional team of technology-based supervillains in the Marvel Comics series Iron Man. They first appeared in Iron Man volume 3 #1.

Usage examples of "death squad".

Fort Benning is also home to the notorious School of the America's, where the CIA and the Special Forces have trained Latin American death squad leaders for over three decades.

Only the exceedingly determined and ruthless rose to head a corporate death squad.

In California Lyons had pursued a Salvadoran death squad and exterminated the unit.

Now there was no doubt: the enemy had him spotted, and the death squad was present.