The Most Pervasive JFK Conspiracy Theories

According to author and attorney Vincent Bugliosi, if a person added up all of the people accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and all of the conspiracies they were taking part in, you'd wind up with at least 42 different groups, 82 separate assassins, and 214 people playing some kind of role in the crime. But one thing is for sure: the death of John F. Kennedy rocked the nation.

Who assassinated JFK? Since the day when Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine, was arrested for firing three shots at the president, outside observers have felt that there was more to it. There had to be. How could the most powerful man in the world - a charming, handsome, wealthy titan - be struck dead by some ordinary loner with a rifle? It had to be a conspiracy.

JFK conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of the President began almost immediately. They involved everything from witnesses on the grass near the motorcade to powerful businessmen to foreign powers to the usual conspiracy standbys like the Illuminati. Since then, countless books have been written, two separate commissions were formed (which came to different and disputed conclusions), and endless pontificating spouted. While conspiracy theorists continue to insist that others were involved, so far, their theories remain just that: theories.

Here are the most popular and pervasive JFK assassination conspiracy theories. Who really killed JFK? Read on to learn what some theorists think.

Photo: flickr / CC0

  • The Mafia Took Him Out

    The Mafia Took Him Out
    Photo: White House Press Office / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    A number of theorists believe that the Mafia had something to do with the assassination of President Kennedy as revenge for Robert Kennedy's crackdown on their activity.

    Chicago mobster Sam Giancana had Kennedy connections and the power to pull off the hit, while Oswald assassin Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, was also alleged to have mob ties - and died in prison before his trial.

  • The CIA Took Him Out

    Could the American intelligence apparatus have killed President Kennedy because he was preparing to turn away from Cold War militarism? Links between the CIA and the assassination were first alleged when New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison prosecuted local businessman Clay Shaw for his ties to the Agency. Leftist papers in Europe picked up the story, and a years-long investigation followed. Tens of thousands of documents related to the "New Orleans Conspiracy" were declassified, but none were a smoking gun.

    In October 2015, the CIA declassified an internal report that revealed the Agency's role in withholding evidence from the Warren Commission related to their attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Among the facts ordered kept from the Commission by Agency director John McCone were that the CIA had already been in contact with Oswald regarding Cuba and that Oswald's mail was being read by the CIA - as part of a mail monitoring program that was later found to be unconstitutional.

    Much of this information became known to Warren Commission members in the 1970s, and experts agree that it doesn't change the Commission's ultimate conclusion - that Oswald acted alone.

  • Lyndon Johnson Took Him Out

    Theoretically, nobody had more to gain from John Kennedy's demise than his vice president, Lyndon Johnson.

    Johnson gained enormous power from it, and the assassination took place in his home state of Texas. But the evidence of this is mostly hearsay.

  • The Federal Reserve Took Him Out

    One doesn't normally associate banks with assassinations, but some theorists believe high-ranking officials at the Fed conspired to take out President Kennedy. Their reason: his signing of Executive Order 11110, which delegated to the Treasury the power to issue silver certificates in preparation for demonetizing the metal.

    The conspiracy goes that billionaires didn't want the Fed to lose power, so they killed Kennedy in response. But the EO actually strengthened the Fed's power by giving it the power to issue notes - which we call cash. Beyond that, EO 11110 was simply an update of a previous EO, one signed by the non-assassinated Harry Truman.

  • The Illuminati Took Him Out

    The Illuminati Took Him Out
    Photo: Bureau of Engraving and Printing / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Real conspiracy theorists know the Illuminati are behind everything that happens everywhere, pulling the strings to ensure they wind up with unlimited power and money. So, if anyone was going to take out JFK, who was presumably one of them, it would have been the shadowy Cabal.

    Why would they have done it? Possibly because he'd broken away, or just to increase their money and power.

  • The KGB Took Him Out

    Lee Harvey Oswald had already defected to and returned from Moscow before assassinating Kennedy. Was it possible that he was a deep-cover Soviet agent?

    Despite various people being implicated as handlers, moles, and KGB officials involved with the shooting, none of the strands have ever been connected, and there's still no compelling evidence that Oswald was getting orders from anyone. In fact, declassified documents reveal that the KGB actively decided NOT to recruit Oswald due to his mental instability.