The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) was a militant Marxist-Leninist organization, that operated from 1975 to 1986 and was responsible for the assassination of many Turkish diplomats and their families. The group also operated under other names such as The Orly Group and the 3 October Organization. The intention of ASALA was purportedly "to compel the Turkish Government to acknowledge publicly its alleged responsibility for the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, pay reparations, and cede territory for an Armenian homeland". ASALA was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States in 1980s.
ASALA, trained in the Beirut camps of Palestine Liberation Organization, is the best known of the guerilla groups responsible for assassinations of at least 36 Turkish diplomats.
According to MIPT website, there had been 84 incidents involving ASALA leaving 46 people dead, and 299 people injured including the following:
The ASALA's most criticized attack was on August 7, 1982 in Ankara at the Esenboğa International Airport, when its members targeted both diplomats and non-diplomat civilians for the first time. Two militants opened fire in a crowded passenger waiting room. One of the shooters took more than 20 hostages while the second was apprehended by police. Altogether, nine people died and 82 were injured. The arrested militant Levon Ekmekjian condemned the ASALA in the aftermath of the attack and appealed to other members to leave and stop the violence. The Esenboga attack also precipitated a split in the group over tactics, between the Nationalists (ASALA-Militant) led by Hagopian and the 'Popular Movement' (ASALA-Mouvement Révolutionnaire) led by Monte Melkonian. While Melkonian's faction insisted on attacks strictly against Turkish officials and the Turkish government, Hagopian's group disregarded the losses of unintended victims and regularly executed dissenting members. On August 10, 1982, Artin Penik a Turk of Armenian descent, set himself on fire in protest of this attack.
On July 15, 1983, the ASALA carried out another attack at the Orly Airport near Paris, in which 8 people were killed. The attack resulted in a split in ASALA, between those individuals who carried it out, called the "Orly Group," and those who believed the attack to be counter productive. Afterwards, French forces promptly arrested those involved. Moreover, this attack eliminated the suspected secret agreement that the French socialist government made with ASALA, in which the government would allow ASALA to use France as a base of operations in exchange for refraining from launching attacks on French soil. Belief in this suspected agreement was further bolstered after "Interior Minister Gaston Defferre called [ASALA's] cause "just," and four Armenians arrested for taking hostages at the Turkish Embassy in September 1981 were given light sentences.
ASALA's founder Hagop Hagopian was assassinated on a sidewalk in an affluent neighborhood in Athens, Greece on April 28, 1988. His assailants, Hovsep A., Vartan G., Garabed K., and Albert "Sultan-Minas", were all former ASALA members and lieutenants of Hagopian. His body was riddled with several bullets while he was walking with two women at 4:30 in the morning. Tarakchian died of cancer in 1980. Assassinations of former members continued in Armenia into the late 1990s.
According to Tessa Hofmann, Turkish officials frequently used the accusation of collaboration with the ASALA and foreign Armenian circles to incriminate extreme left-wing Turkish opposition groups.
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