Turkish Diplomats Killed by Armenian Terrorists
Below are 27 attacks against Turkish diplomats by Armenian terrorists during 1980s. These events have been divided into four categories:
The first are instances in which a Turkish diplomat was killed and the perpetrators were arrested, tried and convicted.
The second category describes instances in which convictions were secured against perpetrators of attempted murders of Turkish diplomats. Under American jurisprudence, the degree of culpability between one who attempts a murder and one who succeeds is identical. Thus, from a legal, if not rhetorical, standpoint this category and the first are of equal impact.
The third category, instances in which a Turkish diplomat was killed, but the perpetrator[s] escaped is of near equal relevance to the first two categories because in each such case Armenian terrorists claimed responsibility. In the strictest sense, there is no need for a conviction when there is a confession.
The fourth category describes attempted killings of Turkish diplomats in which the perpetrator[s] escaped. These are also important because Armenian terrorists claimed responsibility.
Category 1: Turkish Diplomat Killed, Perpetrator[s] Arrested, Tried, and Convicted
January 27, 1973 – Santa Barbara, California, United States
Gourgen Yanikian, an elderly U.S. citizen of Armenian origin, assassinates Los Angeles Turkish Consul General, Mehmet Baydar, and Vice Consul, Bahadir Demir, after inviting the Turkish diplomats to his hotel suite to present the Turkish Government with a “gift.” Soon after killing the diplomats, Yanikian surrenders to police, is tried in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Santa Barbara, is convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ten years later, California Governor George Deukmejian, who is of Armenian descent, orders the release of Yanikian, who dies of natural causes soon thereafter. The Armenian Reporter, commemorates Yanikian, declaring that he had “opened [a] new era of political struggle” and “changed the course of Armenian history.”
March 12, 1981 – Teheran, Iran
An Armenian gunman kills two security officers in a failed attempt to take over the Turkish Embassy. The gunman, Yeghia Keshishian, is apprehended, tried, convicted, and executed by the Iranian government. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility for the attack.
June 9, 1981 – Geneva, Switzerland
An Armenian gunman assassinates Turkish Consulate Secretary, Mehmet Savas Yerguz, as he is leaving his office. Swiss authorities apprehend Mardiros Jamgotchian. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility for the assassination. Jamgotchian is convicted of the murder and sentenced to 15 years, though he serves only 10 years. In a communiqué in Beirut, Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) vows to “destroy Swiss interests throughout the world unless Jamgotchian is freed.” Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) then forms a new branch, called the “Ninth of June Organization,” which undertakes a series of 12 attacks against Swiss targets worldwide. Though Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility, few arrests are made.
September 24, 1981 – Paris, France
Four Armenian gunmen seize the Turkish Consulate, taking 56 people hostage for 16 hours. During the siege, Armenian gunman Kevork Guzelian shoots and seriously wounds Consul Kaya Inal and a Turkish Chief Inspector, Mr. Cemal Ozen. In a statement issued in Beirut during the siege, Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA)’s “Suicide Commandos of Yeghia Kechichian” threaten that if Turkey does not release certain “Armenian political prisoners,” and if French authorities intervene in the Consulate takeover, all of the hostages will be executed.” French negotiators approach the Consulate and then retreat when gunmen waive a hand grenade from the window. Turkish negotiators, however, successfully demand that the gunmen permit Consul Inal and Officer Ozen to be taken to the hospital for medical treatment. The gunmen eventually comply, but Officer Ozen dies upon arrival at the hospital. Turkish negotiators reject the gunmen’s demand for the release of certain Armenian terrorists incarcerated in Turkey. The gunmen then request political asylum in France in return for surrendering to French law enforcement officers. The gunmen surrender and admit their membership in Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA). French authorities deny the gunmen political asylum and proceed with criminal prosecution. The French government states,”However sorrowful the historical events that the perpetrators of this act invo[ked], the takeover was an inadmissible assault on elementary human rights and becomes even more intolerable because once again Turkish diplomats assigned to France have been attacked.” Guzelian and his accomplices are given seven-year sentences. These arrests, prosecutions and convictions, lead to the formation of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) “September 24 Suicide Commandos” (a.k.a the “September France Group”) which subsequently strikes at French targets in order to force the release of the four Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) gunmen.
January 28, 1982 – Los Angeles, California, United States
Two Armenian gunmen assassinate Turkish Consul General, Kemal Arikan, in his automobile while waiting at an intersection. Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility. One of the assassins, Hampig Sassounian, a 19-year-old Armenian American member of the Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG), is arrested shortly thereafter. Sassounian’s father states on public television, “I am glad that a Turk was killed, but my son did not do it.” Sassounian’s accomplice, believed to be Krikor Saliba, escapes to Beirut. Los Angeles police search Sassounian’s automobile, seizing a .357 caliber bullet and a one-way airline ticket from Los Angeles to Beirut. Police also search Sassounian’s home, where they seize a gun receipt, pistol targets, and a manifesto of “The Armenian Youth Federation.” Although Sassounian pleads not guilty, the Court convicts him of first-degree murder and sentences to life imprisonment. Sassounian’s sentence is later changed to 25 years-life in an appeal agreement in which he finally confesses to the killing. On October 6, 1980 a first attempt was made on Arikan’s life, when his home was firebombed.
March 9, 1983 – Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Two Armenian gunmen assassinate the Turkish Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Galip Balkar, and seriously wound his chauffeur, Necati Kayar, in central Belgrade. One of the gunmen, Antranig Boghosian (a.k.a. Harutiun Levonian), also opens fire on and seriously wounds a Yugoslav Colonel, and is then shot and apprehended by a member of the Yugoslav Secret Service. Boghossian is paralyzed from his injuries. As the other gunman, Raffi Elbekian, flees from the scene, Belgrade citizens pursue him. Elbekian opens fire on the civilians, killing a young male student and wounding a young girl. Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility for the assassination. Boghosian and Elbekian area convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years. Both were released in 1987, after serving only four years. They then lived underground in Greece, South Cyprus, and Lebanon until 1995, at which time they entered Armenia. Boghosian lives in Yerevan, Armenia, and is said to reside with Alec Yenikomshian of Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), who was convicted in Switzerland for the attempted murder of the Turkish Ambassador.
Category 2: Attempted Killing of Turkish Diplomat, Perpetrator[s] Arrested, Tried, and Convicted
October 12, 1980 – New York, New York, United States
A bomb planted under a stolen automobile parked in front of the United Nations Plaza and Turkish Center, which houses the offices of the Turkish Ambassador to the U.N. and the Turkish Consul General in New York, explodes at 4:50 p.m., minutes before hundreds of employees and tourists exit the United Nations building. The bomb, with the force of nine sticks of dynamite, demolishes the automobile. Hurled metal, glass, and flames injure five Americans. The explosion destroys 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 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.” Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility. This incident was directed by ANCA Chairman Mourad Topalian who, 20 years later, was convicted of related weapons and explosives charges. He served 37 months in federal prison and is now on supervised release.
April 8, 1982 – Ottawa, Canada
Armenian gunmen open fire on Turkish Embassy Commercial Attaché, Mr. Kani Gungor, as he enters the garage of his apartment complex. The following day Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) issues a statement, “We warn the Canadian authorities that any attempt to persecute the Armenian community in Canada will not pass without punishment.” Mr. Gungor is left paralyzed by the shooting. Five Canadian Armenian Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) members – Nicholas Moumdjian, Haroutium Kevork, Haig Balian, Haig Karkhanian, and Melkon Karakhanian – are arrested. Three are convicted. In 1986, the Canadian Security Intelligence Review Committee decides to deport!Moumdjian, claiming that he conspired to assassinate Mr. Kani Gungor, that he had purchased items that could be used to make a bomb, and that he believed in the indiscriminate use of violence for political ends. Moumdjian immediately appealed the 1988 decision of the Security Committee to the Toronto Federal Court of Appeals. Before the appeal process is completed, Moumdjian flees Canada, stating that he was going to Armenia as a part of a “humanitarian mission.” It was last reported that Moumdjian had enrolled as a political science major at York University.
October 22, 1982 – Los Angeles, California, United States
The FBI arrests and charges four local Armenian Americans for conspiring to bomb the Philadelphia Honorary Turkish Consul General, Kanat Arbay. They are Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) members recruited from the Armenian Youth Federation, and include: Karnig Sarkissian, 29, of Anaheim; Viken Vasken Yacoubian, 19 of Glendale; Viken Archavir Sarkissian Hovsepian, 22 of Santa Monica; and, Dikran Sarkis Berberian, 29, of Glendale. A fifth co-conspirator, Steven John Dadaian, 20 of Canoga Park, California, is arrested at Logan International Airport!in Boston, as he exits the aircraft with a briefcase containing five sticks of dynamite and the components of a detonation timer transported from Los Angeles. The five co-conspirators are called the “L.A. Five”, which the FBI linked to over a dozen bombings in southern California between 1980 and 1982 as well as the assassination of Turkish Consul General Kemal Arikan. Speaking on behalf the Armenian National Committee of America, local representative Leon Kirakosian “condemned this effort!by the FBI and local police agencies to do Turkish dirty work against the Armenian people.” All five were convicted of various federal crimes, though some were given sentences so light that no jail time was served. Two of the five perpetrators, Hovsepian and Yacoubian, eventually are granted U.S. citizenship by a federal judge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned this ruling. Pending the completion of their last ditch appeals, Hovsepian and Yacoubian will be deported to Lebanon.
March 28, 1984 – Teheran, Iran
Two Armenian gunmen attempt to assassinate Turkish Embassy Administrative Attaché Ibrahim Ozdemir as he leaves his home. They are apprehended by Teheran law enforcement officers responding to a call by Ozdemir, who had been surveying the gunmen that morning. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility. They are tried, convicted, and given short sentences.
September 1, 1984 – Teheran, Iran
Iranian law enforcement officers foil a plot by Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) to assassinate the Turkish Ambassador to Iran, Ismet Birsel. Though the conspirators are arrested, they are later released without trial.
March 12, 1985 – Ottawa, Canada
Three Armenian Canadian gunmen, two Syrian-born – Kevork Marachelian and Ohannes Noubarian – and one Lebanese-born Rafi Panos Titizian, storm the Turkish Embassy, killing a Pinkerton security guard in the entryway to the complex. Turkish Ambassador Coskun Kirca escapes by leaping from the second floor window at the back of the embassy, breaking his right arm, right leg and pelvis. The gunmen then take 12 people hostage, including the Ambassador’s wife, Bilge Coskun, teenage daughter and three children. Four hours later, the gunmen, who come to be called the “Ottawa Three” surrender to Pinkerton law enforcement officers. The “Armenian Revolutionary Army” of the Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility for the attempted assassination.
Category 3: Turkish Diplomat Killed, Perpetrator[s] Not Arrested, But Responsibility Claimed by Armenian Terrorist Organizations
October 24, 1975 – Paris, France
An Armenian gunman assassinates the Turkish Ambassador to France, Ismail Erez, also killing the Ambassador’s chauffeur, Talip Yener. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) publicly dispute which group deserves credit for the assassination.
June 2, 1978 – Madrid, Spain
Three Armenian gunmen open automatic gunfire on the automobile of the Turkish Ambassador to Spain, Zeki Kuneralp. The Ambassador’s wife, Necla Kuneralp, and a guest, a retired Turkish Ambassador, Besir Balcioglu, are killed. Spanish chauffeur, Antonio Torres, dies later from his wounds. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claim responsibility.
July 31, 1980 – Athens, Greece
Armenian gunmen attack Turkish Embassy Administrative Attaché, Galip Ozmen, and his family as they wait in their automobile at a traffic light. Mr. Ozmen and his fourteen-year-old daughter, Neslihan Ozmen, are killed in the rain of automatic fire. His wife, Sevil Ozmen, and his sixteen-year-old son, Kaan Ozmen, are seriously wounded but survive. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility.
December 17, 1980 – Sydney, Australia
Two Armenian gunmen assassinate Turkish Consul General, Sarik Ariyak, and his security guard, Engin Sever, as the Turkish officials are walking toward their vehicle. Ariyak dies instantly and the bodyguard dies on the way to the hospital. A spokesperson for the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs states, “We deplore this violent and criminal incident and hope those responsible are brought to justice.” A statement by the U.S. Department of State referred to the killings as “brutal murders” and added, “The inviolability of diplomatic and consular personnel and their premises, is fundamental to the conduct of foreign relations, and to the maintenance of international order. We condemn all acts of violence and we hope the guilty parties will soon be brought to justice.” The Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility. No arrests were ever made.
May 4, 1982 – Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
An Armenian gunman assassinates Turkish Honorary Consul Orhan Gunduz while he waits in his automobile in rush-hour traffic. The gunman escapes. Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility. The assassination occurs six weeks after Mr. Gunduz was wounded in a bomb attack at his flower shop, Topkapi Imports, on March 22, when JCAG threatened that Mr. Gunduz either “resign from being an Honorary Consul General or be executed”. Salespersons at Topkapi Imports comment that neither the store nor Mr. Gunduz had been given police protection despite a record of threats and violence. To help solve the murder of Orhan Gunduz, local television and newspapers utilized a composite drawing based on information provided by a witness. When the witness was subsequently gunned-down, all police, FBI and community efforts to help apprehend the assassin came to a halt.
August 27, 1982 – Ottawa, Canada
Armenian gunmen attack and kill Turkish military attaché, Colonel Atilla Altikat, in Ottawa, Canada. When his car stops at a red light on Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, a passenger from a nearby vehicle gets out and fires nine shots from a 9mm Browning handgun through the passenger side window of the car, killing Altikat.
Armenian terrorist group, Justice Commandos Against Armenian Genocide, claim responsibility.
Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau condemned the attack: “It is a despicable and cowardly crime that no words can too strongly indict. The deed demands that we strengthen our resolve to end the terrorist blight from which it seems no country is immune.”
The attack was one in a series of terrorist attacks on Turkish diplomats around the world. On April 8, 1982, the Turkish Commercial Counselor in Ottawa, Kani Güngör, had been seriously injured in a failed assassination attempt. Two years later, a group of Armenian terrorists attacked the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa, killing a Canadian security guard and seriously injuring the ambassador. While those responsible for the other two attacks were caught and prosecuted, the killer of Altikat remains at large.
July 14, 1983 – Brussels, Belgium
Armenian gunmen assassinate Turkish Embassy Administrative Attaché, Dursun Aksoy, while in his automobile waiting at a traffic light. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and the “Armenian Revolutionary Army” of the Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claim responsibility.
July 27, 1983 – Lisbon, Portugal
Five Armenian gunmen – “The Lisbon Five” – storm the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon, killing a Portuguese law enforcement officer and wounding another. A Turkish security officer kills one gunman -Vatche Daghlian. Unable to take the Embassy chancery building, the four remaining gunmen – Setrak Ajemian, Ara Kuhrjulian, Sarkis Abrahamian and Simon Yahniyan – occupy the Embassy residence building, where they take the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), Yurtsev Mihcioglu, and his family hostage. As the four remaining gunmen plant explosives in the residence building, the wife of the DCM, Cahide Mihcioglu, sets off the bombs, killing the JCAG terrorists and sacrificing herself for her family. Her husband DCM Mihcioglu and son, Atasay, survive. The “Armenian Revolutionary Army” of the Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility for the attack, but blames Portuguese Prime Minister Mario Saores for the deaths of the Portuguese law enforcement officers and the five Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) members.
April 28, 1984 – Teheran, Iran
Two Armenian gunmen riding a motorcycle open fire on a diplomatic spouse, Isik Yonder, as he drives his wife, Sadiye Yonder, to the Turkish Embassy where she works. Isik Yonder is killed and Sadiye Yonder is injured. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility.
June 20, 1984 – Vienna, Austria
A bomb explodes in a vehicle owned by the Assistant Labor and Social Affairs Counselor of the Turkish Embassy, Erdogan Ozen, killing Ozen and seriously injuring five Austrian nationals, including two law enforcement officers. The “Armenian Revolutionary Army” of the Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility for the attack.
Category 4: Attempted Killing of Turkish Diplomat, Perpetrator[s] Not Arrested, But Responsibility Claimed by Armenian Terrorist Organizations
April 17, 1980 – Rome, Italy
In an assassination attempt, an Armenian gunman shoots the Turkish Ambassador to the Holy See, Vecdi Turel, seriously wounding him. The Ambassador’s chauffeur, Tahsin Guvenc, is also wounded in the attack. Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claims responsibility.
August 5, 1980 – Lyons, France
Two Armenian gunmen storm the Turkish Consulate General and demand the location of the Consul General. When the Turkish doorman does not answer, the gunmen kill him, then open fire in the waiting lounge, killing one and wounding 11 visitors. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility.
April 3, 1981 – Copenhagen, Denmark
An Armenian gunman shoots Turkish Embassy Labor Attaché, Cavit Demir, as he is entering his apartment building. Mr. Demir is seriously wounded but survives after a series of operations. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and Justice Commandos of Armenian Genocide (JCAG) claim responsibility for the attack.
March 28, 1984 – Teheran, Iran
Two Armenian gunmen attempt to assassinate Turkish Military Attaché, Master Sergeant Ismail Pamukcu, as he leaves for work, seriously wounding the diplomat. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility.
March 28, 1984 – Teheran, Iran
Two Armenian gunmen attempt to assassinate Turkish Embassy First Secretary, Hasan Oktem, seriously wounding the diplomat. Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claims responsibility.