In 66 CE Masada was occupied by the Sicarii, the most radical faction of the Zealots (a group opposed to Roman rule over Palestine).

An excerpt from the article 19 facts about Masada

Under the command of Menachem, one of the leaders of the uprising against the Romans, the Sicarii disbanded the Roman garrison and manned the fortress with their own men. They had a large supply of food that had accumulated since the time of Herod (and was suitable for consumption thanks to the dry climate and the way it was secured and stored).

Thanks to crops, they also had fresh food and raised livestock. They had access to water, which was stored in reservoirs created in the past.

The Sicarii were avowed opponents of Roman rule. Their method of fighting consisted in murdering their opponents, especially the Jews who were sympathetic to the Romans.

They used large, sickle-shaped knives (sica) for this purpose. During the Jewish festivals in Jerusalem, they cut the throats of their enemies in crowds or stabbed them in the back with knives. Because of this practice, they are considered today as the first terrorist organization.

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