ASALA and Tashnak Terrorist Organizations
During the new phase of Armenian terrorism from 1973 to 1985, the terrorist organization most frequently mentioned wasASALA (The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia). No information has yet been published on itsestablishment, structure and activities. With regard to ASALA, various Armenian sources and publications provideinformation about certain individuals, and the results of terrorist activity, mostly obtained from publications issued by theorganization or terrorist group.This is information, which the terrorist group wishes to publish or does not object to having published. With regard to thefounding of ASALA, some publications link it with the events in Lebanon; they take the view that it was established underthe inspiration of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, within which it had been active. Others claim that it wasfounded by a small group of Armenians, who, within a short time, carried out the most sensational and effective acts ofterrorism of the period.All this is very far from providing a complete explanation of how ASALA was founded. Until the conditions under whichASALA first appeared as an organization are better known and the gap it filled is more satisfactorily elucidated, presentdoubts will continue for a long time to come.It is generally known that the first Armenian terrorist activities of the new period were in accordance with the policies andtargets of the Dashnak terrorist organization. Throughout the course of history as well as in the period under discussion,the Dashnaks were completely pro-Western. They adopted a policy of limited terrorist activity, which was directedbasically against Turkish targets, and, as revealed by various sources of evidence, they obtained help and support fromthe Western states; in fact, they collaborated with them.Basically, their principles and historical development did not allow them to adopt a different approach. In this situation,one sphere of activity still remained. Namely that relating to the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, which appealed tothe younger Marxist Revolutionary generations and, particularly, to the "New Armenian Resistance Organizations", inFrance. In fact, this area had long since been filled by the Hunchaks. Since 1960, they, with their various points of view,had also been preparing for a new period of terror. However, the Hunchaks were not in evidence, and a terroristorganization, wishing to be regarded as completely new, appeared on the scene in the guise of ASALA.When the factors leading to the new period of Armenian terrorism are taken into consideration and their aims andpolicies, especially as a Hunchak terrorist organization, are examined, the conclusion can be reached that ASALA is aterrorist offshoot of the Hunchaks. It was above all the conditions and new developments in Lebanon that lay behind theemergence of this group as a new terrorist organization, which because known for the various acts of terrorism for whichit claimed responsibility. In fact, no significant change has taken place. The two Armenian terrorist organizations onceagain occupy the centre of the stage against the backdrop of history.The first is more in evidence, operating through its terrorist offshoots, whilst the second operates under cover, in theguise of a terrorist group to which it has given manpower and expertise, as well as moral support. This group in turncarries out terrorist activities through subsidiary groups and teams.1. Foundation and Organizational StructureASALA was founded in 1975. The leader of this terror organization is known to have been Agop Agopian, one of the twomost active members of the six or seven founding members. The second was Agop Tarakdjian, who was personallyinvolved in terrorism and other criminal activity and who ensured the continued existence of the organization in theabsence of Agop Agopian. The second of these two men died in 1981, whilst the first continued as leader throughout thewhole of this period, apart from the time spent under treatment for wound received. He was well known as a mucahid anda member of the Palestine Liberation Organization.The organization was structured in accordance with the general practice of the Armenian terrorist groups. The LebanonCentral Committee was the supreme executive body. In 1980 this committee took on a very important form in theLebanon and assumed the nature of a "bureau". Subordinate to the Central Committee were bodies such as the PoliticalCommittee, the Finance Committee, the Propaganda and Information Committee, the Intelligence Committee and theMilitary Committee. Subordinate to the Military Committee were a number of operational teams.2. Aims and ObjectivesASALA revealed to the world its aims and objectives in a "political programme" published in the end of 1981. Accordingto this, the aim of ASALA was "the foundation of a united Armenia under the leadership of a democratic, socialist,revolutionary government". The identity of the government in question is quite clear from the definition. All aid waswelcome from the USSR and other socialist countries, while at the same time Soviet Armenia was accepted as a base in"the long struggle of the Armenian people".
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