Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide

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Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG) (Armenian: Հայկական Ցեղասպանութեան Արդարութեան Մարտիկներ, ՀՑԱՄ) was an Armenian militant organization which sought the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Republic of Turkey, and the establishment of an independent Armenia (including the eastern part of Turkey) from 1975 to 1987. JCAG conducted an international campaign of attacks, mainly in Europe and North America, targeting interests and representatives of Turkey.[1][2]

Affiliation with Armenian Revolutionary Federation[edit]

Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG) was the military branch of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), a left-wing Armenian nationalist and Pan-Armenian political party established in the 19th century, which at the time of sought the independence of Armenia from the Soviet Union.[3] The ARF was instrumental in the creation of the First Republic of Armenia in 1918, which existed for two years until it was annexed by the Soviet Union, the successor state of the Russian Empire which had previously ruled eastern Armenia. After the Soviets came to power, the ARF leadership was exiled, where the organization maintained its existence internationally through the Armenian diaspora.

The existence of JCAG was discovered in May 1976, when a member was killed by his own bomb in the headquarters of ARF in Paris.[4] It was confirmed when French political scientist Gaïdz Minassian was allowed to consult the archives of ARF for his doctoral thesis.[5] In several occasions, the official newspapers of ARF in the United States, France and Lebanon justified the "armed struggle" and published official communiqués of JCAG.[6][7] The party had used terrorism many times, both against the Ottoman Empire and Armenians opposed to the ARF, the most famous being Bedros Kapamciyan, mayor of Van, assassinated in December 1912, and archbishop Leon Tourian, assassinated in New York City on December 24, 1933.[8]

The legal branches of the ARF fundraised to pay the lawyer costs of arrested JCAG members, the most famous case being Harry Sassounian, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the assassination of the Turkish general consul in Los Angeles.[9] According to Dashnak newspaper Asbarez (October 15, 1983), several dozens of thousands of Armenians (ARF sympathisers and militants) participated to the Sassounian solidarity groups. French ARF organized a demonstration in front of US consulate in Lyon, in protestation against Sassounian's arrest.[10] The ARF also supported Harutyun Krikor Levonian and Alexander Elbekyan, who were sentenced to twenty years imprisonment for the assassination of Galip Balkar, Turkish ambassador to Yugoslavia, in Belgrade, and Max Hraïr Kilndjian, sentenced to two years imprisonment as an accessory in the attempted murder of the Turkish ambassador to Switzerland.[11]

In 1982, an attempt to bomb the building of Turkish consulate in Philadelphia was stopped by the FBI. The leader of the group and now the main leader of ARF in the United States, Vicken Hovsepian, was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment, a sentence confirmed in appeal.[12] In January 2001, another leader of the American ARF, Mourad Topalian, was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment for illegal storing of weapons and explosives for JCAG.[13] JCAG's activities were concentrated in European and North American countries, targeting Turkish interests, mainly the assassination of Turkish diplomats.[14]

In 1983, the JCAG took the name of "Armenian Revolutionary Army (ARA)", and like before, ARF-affiliated press published ARA communiqués as well as articles supporting its aims.[15] [16][17]

Every year the ARF organizes international ceremonies in honor of the five ARA members who attacked the Turkish embassy in Portugal, especially in Glendale, Los Angeles, in New Jersey, Beirut, Paris and Décines-Charpieu.[18][19] After three ARA perpetrators of attack against Turkish embassy in Ottawa were sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 25 years, ARF attacked the verdict.[20]

Under the name of "Greek-Bulgarian-Armenian Front", the JCAG perpetrated two attacks in Australia: the bombing of Melbourne's Turkish consulate, for which ARF member Levon Demirian was sentenced and served 10 years in prison, and the bombing of a mail sorting facility in Brisbane, on January 19, 1987.[21][22]

Attacks[edit]

This is a list of attacks by the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide:

  • October 22, 1975, Vienna, Austria: Turkish Ambassador to Austria, Daniş Tunalıgil, was assassinated in his office.[23]
  • October 24, 1975, Paris, France: Turkish Ambassador to France, İsmail Erez, was assassinated. His car's driver Talip Yener was also killed in the attack.[24]
  • May 28, 1976, Zurich, Switzerland: Two bombs caused extensive damage to the office of Garanti Bank and of Labor Attaché of Turkish embassy.[25]
  • May 29, 1977, Istanbul, Turkey: a double bombing in railroad station and airport killed five persons and wounded 64.[26]
  • June 9, 1977, Rome, Italy: Turkey's Vatican Ambassador, Taha Carım, was assassinated.[27]
  • June 2, 1978, Madrid. Spain: Turkish Ambassador to Spain Zeki Kuneralp's car was attacked. His wife Necla, retired Turkish Ambassador Beşir Balcıoğlu, and their driver, Antonio Torres, were killed. Kuneralp was not in the car.[28] Christopher Walker wrote that "as with all terrorism, often murdered shockingly inappropriate people, such as the wife of Zeki Kuneralp, whose family had been instrumental in seeking rapprochement between the different nationalities of post-Ottoman Turkey".[29]
  • October 12, 1979, The Hague, Netherlands: Ahmet Benler, son of the Turkish Ambassador to the Netherlands Özdemir Benler was assassinated.[30] Responsibility for the attack was also claimed at the same time by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA).
  • December 22, 1979, Paris, France: Turkish attaché for tourism in France, Yılmaz Çolpan, was assassinated.[31]
  • January 20, 1980, Madrid, Spain: several bomb exploded at Madrid Airport, injuring twelve peoples.[32]
  • February 6, 1980, Bern, Switzerland: Turkish Ambassador to Switzerland Doğan Türkmen was attacked. Türkmen escaped with minor wounds.[33] Max Hraïr Kilndjian was sentenced as an accessory to two years imprisonment by the tribunal of Aix-en-Provence.[34]
  • April 17, 1980, Rome, Italy: JCAG gunmen opened fire on the Turkish Ambassador to the Holy See, Vecdi Turel, seriously wounding him, and slightly injuring his bodyguard, Tahsin Guvenc.[35]
  • October 6, 1980, United States: Harut Sassounian attempted to kill the Turkish general consul, Kemal Arikan. Sassounian was sentenced to 6 years of jail; his brother Hampig "Harry" Sassounian assassinated Kemal Arikan in 1982.[36]
  • October 12, 1980, New York City, United States: A bomb planted under a stolen car parked in front of the Turkish Center in United Nations Plaza exploded at 4:50 p.m., minutes before hundreds of employees and tourists exit the United Nations building which closes at 5 p.m. The bomb, which has the force of nine sticks of dynamite, demolished the automobile, hurling the parts of the vehicle in all directions; all that remained of the vehicle is the rear bumper. The flying pieces of metal and glass as well as flames from the blast injured five Americans. The explosion destroyed a vehicle parked across the street, and causes significant damage to the 11-story Turkish Center, and blows out the windows of nearby buildings, including B'nai B'rith, Chase Manhattan Bank, the African American Center, a travel agency and numerous apartment complexes. Assistant New York City Police Department Chief, Milton Schwartz, expressed “It is absolutely lucky that more people weren’t injured.” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Donald McHenry, condemned the attacks as “savage and calculated terrorism.” New York City Mayor Edward Koch expressed that the incident “demonstrates forcefully that all terrorism, no matter what form it takes, and no matter against whom it is directed, must be condemned and punished.”[37]
  • October 12, 1980, Los Angeles, United States: the offices of Imperial Travel, a travel agency owned by a Turkish-American, Ali Ondemir, were partially destroyed by a bomb; a tourist was wounded.[38]
  • December 17, 1980, Sydney, Australia. Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed the Turkish consul-general and his bodyguard. The consul, Şarık Arıyak, had received a death threat that day, and took it seriously enough to swap cars with his bodyguard. The motorcyclists opened fire on the bodyguard, then realizing they had not hit their intended target, caught up with Mr. Ariyak's fleeing car and fired several shots through the windshield, killing him instantly. No one was apprehended. In their phone call to the newspaper, the assassins said they would continue to attack Turkish diplomats and Turkish institutions.[39]
  • June 3, 1981, Orange, California, United States: a bomb exploded in the Orange County Convention Center in Anaheim, the scheduled site of a Turkish folk dance and music show, causing extensive damage. Two days before, bomb threats provoked cancellation of another Turkish show in San Francisco.[40]
  • November 20, 1981, Los Angeles, United States: a bomb caused extensive damage where the Turkish consulate of Los Angeles at 8730 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills.[41] Serge Samionian, Secretary of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America, submitted a letter to Los Angeles World Affairs Council (LAWAC), stating “2000 Armenians are expected to turn out for the demonstration against the Ambassador” of Turkey and requesting that the Ambassador's speech be cancelled “in the interest of public safety.”.[42] In vain.
  • January 28, 1982, Los Angeles, United States: Turkish consul general Kemal Arıkan was killed in his car as he sat at a stoplight. Four people were taken into custody; Harry Sassounian, 19-years-old at the time of the killing, was later convicted of first degree murder. The jury found that Sassounian killed Arikan "because of his nationality", leading to a sentencing of life in prison without possibility of parole.[43] In 2002, the sentence was changed in life with no possibility of parole during 25 years, but Sassounian's demand of parole were rejected in 2006 and 2010[44] An accomplice, believed to be Krikor (Koko) Saliba, is still at large.[45]
  • May 4, 1982: New England's honorary Turkish consul general in Somerville, Massachusetts, Orhan Gündüz, whose import shop in Cambridge was the target of a previous attack, was shot by a man dressed in a jogger's outfit, as he sat in his car.[46]
  • June 27, 1982, Lisbon, Portugal: administrative attaché Erkut Akbay was assassinated outside his home on the outskirts of the city as he returned home for lunch.[47] His wife, Nadide Akbay, was shot in the head as she sat beside him, and died after eight months in a coma on January 11, 1983.[48]
Memorial to the fallen diplomats at the site of the attack on Atilla Altıkat
  • August 27, 1982: Atilla Altıkat, Turkish military attaché in Canada was assassinated in Ottawa, Canada.[49]
  • September 9, 1982, Burgas, Bulgaria: Bora Süelkan, attaché to the Turkish consulate was assassinated.[50]
  • March 9, 1983, Belgrade, Yugoslavia: Turkish Ambassador Galip Balkar died of wounds received when two gunmen shot him in an ambush in central Belgrade. An armed clash between the guerrillas and police ensued and one of the guerillas was wounded. Both guerrillas, who claim to belong to an Armenian paramilitary organization, were eventually apprehended. A Yugoslav passerby was killed during the clash, while a female student and a Yugoslav officer who was trying to capture the assailants were wounded. The Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide claimed credit for the attack.[51]
  • July 14, 1983, Belgium: the administrative attaché of Turkish embassy, Dursun Aksoy, was assassinated in Brussels[52]
  • July 27, 1983, Lisbon, Portugal: the 1983 Turkish embassy attack in Lisbon, where the five perpetrators, a Portuguese policeman (Manuel Pacheco) and the wife of Turkish chargé d'affaires, Cahide Micioglu, were killed; another Portuguese policeman was seriously wounded.[53]
  • June 20, 1984, Vienna, Austria: the trade and labor attaché to Turkish embassy, Erdogan Ozen, was assassinated when his car exploded.[54]
  • September 3, 1984, Istanbul, Turkey: two ARA members are killed in front of Topkapi Palace by their own bomb due to an error of manipulation.[55]
  • November 19, 1984, Austria: Enver Ergün, UN official, is assassinated in Vienna.[56]
  • March 12, 1985, Ottawa, Canada: three ARA members attacked the Turkish embassy in Ottawa, killing the Pinkerton agent Claude Brunelle, who attempted to stop them, taking 12 hostages and attempting in vain to kill the Turkish ambassador. They were later sentenced to life, including 25 years without pardon.[57]
  • November 23, 1986, Melbourne, Australia: During the bombing of the Turkish consulate in Melbourne, one attacker was killed by his own bomb; the other one was arrested. An Australian woman was wounded.[58]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Starving Armenians: America and the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1930 and After - Page 166 by Merrill D. Peterson
  2. ^ Barry Rubin, Barry M. Rubin, Judith Colp Rubin, "Chronologies of modern terrorism, M.E. Sharpe, 2008, p. 68
  3. ^ Francis P. Hyland, Armenian Terrorism: the Past, the Present, the Prospects, Boulder-San Francisco-Oxford: Westview Press, 1991, pp. 61-62; Yves Ternon, La Cause arménienne, Paris: Le Seuil, 1983, p. 218; The Armenian Reporter, January 19, 1984, p. 1.
  4. ^ Yves Ternon, p. 221
  5. ^ Gaïdz Minassian, Guerre et terrorisme arméniens, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 2002, pp. 32-34 and 106-109.
  6. ^ Asbarez, April 24, May 1st and 22, 1973; Haïastan, July 1981 and special issue on Sassounian affair, February 1984; The Armenian Weekly, August 21, September 17, December 10 and 24, 1983, January 14 and 28, 1984 and December 31, 1986.
  7. ^ Haïastan, February and April–May, 1983
  8. ^ Türkkaya Ataöv, "Procurement of Arms for Armenian Terrorists: Realities Based on Ottoman Documents", Heath W. Lowry, "Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Armenian Terrorism: 'Threads of Continuity'" and Paul B. Henze, "The Roots of Armenian Violence", in International Terrorism and the Drug Connection, Ankara University Press, 1984, pp. 71-84 and 169-202; Michael M. Gunter, pp. 29-30 and 55; Houshamatyan of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Album-Atlas, volume I, Heroic Battles. 1890-1914, Los Angeles-Glendale: Next Day Color Printing, 2006, p. 7; Gaïdz Minassian, pp. 2 and 30-32; Louise Nalbandian, The Armenian Revolutionary Movement, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London: University of California Press, 1963, chapter VII; Kapriel Serope Papazian, Patriotism Perverted, Boston: Baikar Press, 1934, pp. 13-18 and 68-70; Rapport présenté au congrès socialiste international de Copenhague par le parti arménien "Dachnaktzoutioun", Genève, 1910, pp. 9 and 15-17; Jeremy Salt, The Unmaking of the Middle East, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London: University of California Press, 2008, p. 59; Yves Ternon, pp. 124-125.
  9. ^ Michael M. Gunter, "Pursuing the Just Cause of their People". A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism, Westport-New York-London, Greenwood Press, 1986, pp. 70 and 74; "More Than $70 000 Raised for Hampig Sassounian Defense Effort", Asbarez, 25 février 2002.
  10. ^ « Soutien à Sassounian (Lyon) », Haïastan (Paris), juin 1982, p. 6.
  11. ^ Yves Ternon, pp. 223-224.
  12. ^ "Court Finds Four Armenian Youth Guifly of '82 Attempt on Consulate", The Armenian Reporter, October 18, 1984; Verdict of appeal court
  13. ^ Armenian Terrorists at Work in USA, NBC, 2005 ; "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2010-09-16. 
  14. ^ Geopolitical and -Economic Changes in the Balkan Countries - Page 75 by Nicholas V. Gianaris
  15. ^ Michael M. Gunter, pp. 56-61; Francis P. Hyland, p. 62; Gaïdz Minassian, p. 92; Global Terrorism Database.
  16. ^ The Armenian Weekly, July 14, October 12 and November 19, 1984.
  17. ^ Aram Khaligian, “The Necessities of Violence and National Culture in the Liberation Struggle,” The Armenian Weekly, 31 December 1986, p. 15; Haïastan, April and December 1985, December 1986.
  18. ^ Gaïdz Minassian, op. cit., p. 93.
  19. ^ The Armenian Weekly, February 6, 1984, pp. 6-7 ; "Lisbon 5 Commemoration and Ceremony for the Repose of Souls Held in Lebanon", Asbarez, July 27, 2004 ; "Sacrifice of Lisbon 5 Remembered at Glendale’s Saint Mary Church", Asbarez, July 27, 2008 ; "Community Remembers Sacrifice of Lisbon 5", Asbarez, August 1st, 2008 ; http://www.fra-france.com/index.php?page=article&id=55 ; http://www.fra-france.com/index.php?page=article&id=36 ; http://www.france-armenie.fr/agenda/agenda07b-2008.pdf
  20. ^ Haïastan, December 1986.
  21. ^ Police Life Magazine, December 2006.
  22. ^ "Incident Summary for GTDID: 198611230005". Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  23. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Gaïdz Minassian, Guerre et terrorisme arméniens, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2002, p. 44; Michael M. Gunter, "Pursuing the Just Cause of their People. A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism, Westport-New York-London, Greenwood Press, 1986, p. 68.
  24. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Gaïdz Minassian, ibid.; Michael M. Gunter, ibid.
  25. ^ Armenian Terrorism: the Past, the Present, the Prospects, Boulder-San Francisco-Oxford: Westview Press, 1991, p. 111; Assembly of Turkish American Associations, Report on Armenian Terrorism and JCAG terrorist Hampig Sassounian, 2010, pp. 36-37.
  26. ^ Yves Ternon, La Cause arménienne, Paris: Le Seuil, 1983, p. 221 ; Armand Gaspard, Le Combat arménien, Lausanne: L’Âge d’homme, 1984, p. 75.
  27. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, ibid.
  28. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, ibid.
  29. ^ Armenia. The Survival of a Nation, London-New York: Routledge, 1990, p. 380
  30. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, ibid.
  31. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, ibid.
  32. ^ Francis P. Hyland, p. 153.
  33. ^ "Incident Summary for GTDID: 198002060004". Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  34. ^ Comité de soutien à Max Kilndjian, Les Arméniens en cour d'assises. Terroristes ou résistants ?, Marseille: Parenthèse, 1982
  35. ^ "Incident Summary for GTDID: 198004170023". Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  36. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, p. 82
  37. ^ Global Terrorism Database Assembly of Turkish American Associations, [Report on Armenian Terrorism and JCAG terrorist Hampig Sassounian http://www.ataa.org/reference/Supporting_Documents_Hampig_Sassounian.pdf], 2010, pp. 31-32.
  38. ^ Global Terrorism Database Assembly of Turkish American Associations, [Report on Armenian Terrorism and JCAG terrorist Hampig Sassounian http://www.ataa.org/reference/Supporting_Documents_Hampig_Sassounian.pdf], 2010, p. 31.
  39. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, p. 69.
  40. ^ Francis P. Hyland, pp. 164-165; Assembly of Turkish American Associations, [Report on Armenian Terrorism and JCAG terrorist Hampig Sassounian http://www.ataa.org/reference/Supporting_Documents_Hampig_Sassounian.pdf], pp. 36-37; Michael M. Gunter, p. 3.
  41. ^ "Incident Summary for GTDID: 198111200002". Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  42. ^ Assembly of Turkish American Associations, [Report on Armenian Terrorism and JCAG terrorist Hampig Sassounian http://www.ataa.org/reference/Supporting_Documents_Hampig_Sassounian.pdf], p. 44.
  43. ^ [1]; Michael M. Gunter, p. 69
  44. ^ ATAA Assures California Prison Parole Board Denies Parole to Armenian Terrorist Sassounian, August 6, 2010.
  45. ^ Francis P. Hyland, pp. 61-62 pp. 68 and 154; Michael M. Gunter, p. 82.
  46. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, ibid.; Francis P. Hyland, p. 193.
  47. ^ "AROUND THE WORLD - Turkish Envoy in Lisbon Is Killed by Gunman - NYTimes.com". 8 June 1982. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  48. ^ "Turk Wounded in June Attack By Armenian Terrorists Dies". 11 January 1983. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  49. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Gaïdz Minassian, p. 77; Michael M. Gunter, ibid.
  50. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, ibid.; Gaïdz Minassian, p. 83.
  51. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, pp. 69-70 and 133.
  52. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, p. 69; Gaïdz Minassian, p. 92.
  53. ^ Michael M. Gunter, pp. 58-59, 70 and 79; Gaïdz Minassian, pp. 90-93.
  54. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, pp. 62-63 and 69; Gaïdz Minassian, p. 92.
  55. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, pp. 62-63
  56. ^ Global Terrorism Database; Michael M. Gunter, p. 69.
  57. ^ Francis P. Hyland, pp. 69-70 and 221.
  58. ^ Global Terrorism DatabasePolice Life Magazine, December 2006.