ATAA Remembers the Victims of Armenian Terrorism
January 1972 marks the start of one of the most vicious terror campaigns in modern history, the Armenian nationalist terrorist movement to force the recognition of Armenian deaths in WWI as genocide. Lead by the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG), and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenian (ASALA), Armenian terrorists committed over 230 acts of terrorism, killing more than 70 and seriously injuring more than 550 innocent civilians, mostly in North America and Europe. The Armenian terrorist bombing campaign included at least 160 attacks and accounted for the vast majority of deaths and injuries, as they were generally committed in crowded public areas such as airports, city squares, and shopping malls. See, www.EthnicTerror.org.
1972 – A Bloody Day in Santa Barbara
On a sunny Santa Barbara day on January 27, 1972, 34 years ago, Gourgen Yanikian, a U.S. citizen of Armenian origin, murdered in cold blood the Los Angeles Turkish Consul General, Mehmet Baydar, and his Vice Consul, Bahadir Demir. He invited the two diplomats to his hotel master suite to “gift an antique carpet to the Turkish Ministry of Culture as a symbol of his appreciation of Turkey.” Baydar and Demir, having grown up with Turkish Armenians, and who often gathered with local Armenians in Los Angeles, had no reason to believe that the meeting would be nothing but a pleasant social event. After seating his guests in the living room and exchanging niceties over cups of tea, Yanikian went to his bedroom to bring “the carpet”, but instead came out with a loaded weapon. Yanikian proceeded to massacre the diplomats execution style. Afterwards, Yanikian cleaned himself up, went down to the reception desk, and turned himself in to the authorities. He was tried in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Santa Barbara, convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, California Governor George Deukmejian, also of Armenian heritage, ordered the release of Yanikian. At Yanikian’s open coffin funeral, prominent Armenian American leaders kneeled over his body and kissed his hands; some were recorded on film and appeared on Erich Feigel’s documentary, “A Myth of Terror.”
1982 - Sassounian Terror Brothers’ Heritage of Hatred
Exactly nine years and 142 acts of Armenian terrorism later, on January 28, 1982, two Lebanese nationals of Armenian heritage and members of the JCAG, Hampig Sassounian. 19, and Krikor Saliba, 20, ambushed and gunned down Turkish Counsel General Kemal Arikan as he was waiting in his vehicle at a traffic light in Westwood, California. Hampig Sassounian was arrested several hours after the killing. One month later, Hampig Sassounian’s brother was arrested for the October 1980 firebombing Arikan’s home.
Courtney McClory and Julie Poulson, both 18, helped authorities identify Harout Sassounian, who they said bragged about the firebombing. In turn, Harout Sassounian was arrested and later helped the authorities identify his brother, Hampig, and Sailba as the killers of Arikan. Meanwhile Saliba escaped to Lebanon. Sassounian was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles. Relatives of the killers testified that Armenian children were raised with a heritage of hatred against Turks.
1999 - State Senator Adam Schiff Eases Pain of Denial of Pardon to Terrorist
In 1999, former California Assembly Democratic Leader Walter Karabian criticized former Governor Deukmejian for turning down a bid for the pardon of Hampig Sassounian. In a public statement, the Armenian Film Foundation (AFF) thanked State Senators Adam Schiff and John Burton, for securing the state funding of $473,000 to the AFF, as a way to “ease the lingering pain of the failures of Deukmejian” to pardon Sassounian.
2006 – Terrorist Sassounian Denied Parole
Having served 25 years of his life sentence, Hampig Sassounian, now 44, appeared for this first parole hearing on August 31, 2006. Mark Geragos, an Armenian American, who often represents Armenian terrorists, appeared on behalf of Sassounian. The Arikan family was absent due to the psychological trauma and terror that Mrs. Arikan and Arikan children suffer to this date. Turkey was not permitted to appear as an employer, but Attorney David Saltzman of the firm of Saltzman & Evinch, and the Turkish Consul General to LA, Engin Ansay, appeared as observers clearly to represent that the Turkish public and Turkish Republic, respectively, cared deeply about the matter of Armenian terrorism. While Geragos attempted to derail Saltzman, his own client Sassounian derailed himself, showing off his ARF tattoo, blurting his connection to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and expressing that he intended to go to Europe to kill more Turks. Sassounian was denied parole. His next parole hearing is in 2010.
The Terror Iceberg
Terrorists like Sassounian appear as proud pawns of the militant wing of the Armenian Cause, which seeks to define the Armenian killings in WWI as genocide, seek reparations for claimed financial losses, and the repatriation of claimed Turkish territories from Van to Adana near the Mediterranean Sea. They are only the tip of the iceberg.
The Armenian terror cell leaders of the 1970s and 80s, who mobilized the Armenian youth to commit terrorism appear to have escaped justice, except possibly in one important case – Mourad Topalian, Former Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the U.S. representative the Armenian state’s neo-right Armenian Revolutionary Federation / Dashnak party. ARF was the main political force that lead the Independence Movement and Revolt of 1985-19119 against the Ottoman Empire.
In January 2000, former ANCA Chair, Mourad Topalian, was convicted of weapons and explosives charges that the Federal authorities connected to at least four incidents of JCAG terrorism: (1) the October 12, 1980 bombing at the UN Plaza in New York City; (2) the June 3, 1981 bombing of the Anaheim Convention Center in Los Angeles; (3) the November 20, 1981 bombing of the Beverly Hills building in which the Turkish LA Consulate Office is located; and, (4) the October 28, 1982 attempted assassination of the Turkish Consul General in Philadelphia. At Toplain’s sentencing hearing, ATAA submitted a Victim’s Impact Statement on behalf of Turkish Americans who have suffered from Armenian terrorism, as well as hate crimes by extremists among Armenian American public advocates. For more information on The Armenian Cause, see, the ARI Foundation’s publication, The Turkish Policy Quarterly (Winter 2005), at www.turkishpolicy.com