921) Munich 1972 – Was Asala Founder Hagop Hagopyan Among The Terrorists?

The issue of terrorism has overshadowed all other issues since the September 11, 2001 tragedy in New York and Washington DC. Though terrorism has, of course, existed for centuries, it has, like everything else, accelerated dramatically in the 20th and 21st centuries. One such major acts of terrorism that has shocked people around the world happened in 1972, in the city of Munich, then West Germany.

Now this somewhat forgotten tragedy has been made into a film by Steven Spielberg, and is set to be released on December 23, 2005, in the US cinema theaters. What exactly happened back then? During the summer Olympics, eleven members of the Israel team were taken hostage and then killed by eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group, Black September. That organization itself was an offshoot of the Fatah, Yasser Arafat’s faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). . .

Five terrorists were killed right then, by German law enforcement, and later on, the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, hunted down and killed anywhere from 8 to 12 of the Palestinians from the Black September. However, several terrorists remained, notably mastermind Mohammad Daoud, Amin al-Hindi, Mustafa Liftawi (Abu Firas) (E.g., see: PalestineFacts.org, http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1967to1991_munich.php), or never gained the same notoriety as the ethnic Arab members of the Black September, such as the focus of this article, an ethnic Armenian terrorist born in Mosul, Iraq, but raised and trained in Beirut, Lebanon, Mr. Hagop Hagopyan (Akop Akopian).

It is not well known that Hagop Hagopyan, the founder of the Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) -- also known as The Orly Group and as the 3rd October Organization, was an integral part of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a Beirut-based oldest Armenian political party -- began his notorious career as a member of the Black September terrorist group which perpetrated the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. ASALA’s main focus has been to assassinate Turkish diplomats and innocent bystanders around the world, and provided training and inspiration to ethnic Armenian terrorism in the former Soviet Union, be it in a Moscow subway or most notably in the Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Although Hagopyan was eventually assassinated, on April 25, 1988, in his Athens, Greece, home, supposedly by a rival Armenian faction ( MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, http://www.tkb.org/KeyLeader.jsp?memID=4149), there have been allegations of Mossad’s involvement. In any case, Hagopyan’s name is not well known outside Armenian circles and a few specialists and experts.

Meanwhile, the most revealing assertion of Hagopyan’s involvement has been made in the popular French newspaper, ‘Le Matin’, which was later picked up and commented by the influential U.S.-based diaspora journal, ‘Armenian Reporter’:

"Le Matin, the influential Paris daily, based on unidentified sources, claimed last week that Hagop Hagopian, the founder and leader of one faction of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), was among the Arab terrorists who staged an attack on the living quarters of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games...

Le Matin added that up to 1982, Hagopian operated out of Beirut, Lebanon, but escaped from the country when Israeli forces entered the city. It was about this time that a statement issued by ASALA claimed that Mr. Hagopian was dead of wounds suffered during a bombing by the Israeli Air Force, although it is generally believed that the mysterious leader is alive and well and presently is residing alternately in Damascus, Syria, and Athens, Greece. The paper also noted that the socialist government of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and his P.A.S.O.K. party accepted the Armenian underground leader with "open arms" and still providing him with assistance simply because of Greece's traditional enmity with Turkey.

Le Matin further adds that ASALA derives only a small portion of its expenditures from wealthy Armenians who support the cause, with the rest coming either from other sources or from proceeds of an involvement in drug trafficking." (Source: "Hagop Hagopian said to have been part of 1972 Terror Attack at Munich Olympic Games," The Armenian Reporter, February 7, 1985, p. 1).

According to the US Department of State Patterns of Global Terrorism, ASALA, which operated worldwide, “has received aid, including training and safehaven, from Syria. Has extensive ties to radical Palestinian groups, including the PFLP and PFLP-GC” (Department of State publication 10136, Office of the Secretary, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, released April 1994, Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1993,

PFLP – “Formerly a part of the PLO, the Marxist-Leninist PFLP was founded by George Habash when it broke away from the Arab Nationalist Movement in 1967” (Source: Country Reports on Terrorism, 2004. United States Department of State, April 2005, http://library.nps.navy.mil/home/tgp/pflp.htm). Same source indicates that “the PFLP-GC split from the PFLP in 1968, claiming it wanted to focus more on fighting and less on politics” (ibid., http://library.nps.navy.mil/home/tgp/pflpgc.htm).

The link between Palestinian Islamic organizations and ethnic Armenian terror organizations has been substantial since the 1970s and produced a plead of notorious terrorists, such as Hagop Hagopyan, along with Monte “Avo” Melkonian (killed in action in Aghdam, Azerbaijan in 1993, by the Azerbaijan Army) and Varuzhan Karapetyan (released in 2001 from serving lifetime sentence in French prison in what essentially was President Chirac’s pardon, albeit done through appellate court, deported to and currently living in Armenia).

In fact, Palestinian leader, the late Yasser Arafat, was in Yerevan, capital of Armenia, twice, in 1979 and 1980 – both times on the way from Moscow, where he met with then Soviet leader Brezhnev and negotiated arms supplies to PLO (source: Tatoul Hakobian, “Father of Palestinian nationalism dies. Nubar Chalmian Recalls Palestinian Leader's 1979 and 1980 Yerevan Visits”, Azg (The Nation), Yerevan daily newspaper, 12 November 2004). It raises questions as to why would Arafat be in Armenia – a small part of the vast Soviet empire?

The following account from an influential Armenian newspaper, is revealing: "In 1968 Petros Terzian and Hakob Garayan, editorial staff members of Yeritasard Hye (young Armenian) magazine of Beirut, visited the centers of Palestinian revolution in Jordan where they met with Arafat, George Habash, Najef Havatme, Abu Ali Iyyad and other leaders. Later on papers were published and stuck on the streets of Beirut. They were depicting Armenian and Palestinian freedom fighters with a banner above reading "Long Live Scarred Fidayi" (freedom fighter)."

The newspaper account continues, "After the Arab-Israeli war in 1973 and the civil war in Lebanon, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and the Front of Liberation of Western Armenia started by the help of the PLO.”

And finally: “Without the military, financial, moral support of Yasser Arafat, Abu Jihad, Abu Ajad, Abu Shaker Bsiso, Abu Al-Hol, George Habash, Najef Havatme, Abu-Al Abbas, Dalad Yagub and others it would be impossible to put before the international community all the just requests of all the nations suffered under Turkey’s yoke." (Source: Hamo Moskofian, "Historic pages. Yasser Arafat: We struggle for the world not to forget us as it forgot Armenians…" / Azg (The Nation) Armenian daily newspaper, #203, 13/11/2004, http://www.azg.am/?lang=EN&num=2004111302).

Both George Habash and Abu Ajad (Abu Ali Iyyad, Salah Khalaf) were prominent leaders of PLO’s Fatah and Black September.

Incidentally, Arafat often reaffirmed his great affinity for Armenian cause, by stating, including to then President Clinton, that his name is name is “Yasser Arafatian” ("The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" / Middle East Policy Council journal, Volume VIII, March 2001, Number 1, http://www.mepc.org/public_asp/journal_vol8/0103_gazitandabington.asp).

Unfortunately, the endless cycle of violence in the Mideast contributed greatly to the radicalization of people, growing acceptance of terrorism as nuisance, and flared violence elsewhere, most importantly through “import of expertise” of those terrorists into such regions as Caucasus, where the terror skill set is put to use to kill thousands of innocent and helpless civilians as was the case with about 20,000 Azerbaijani civilians murdered in Karabakh and the other occupied seven regions of Azerbaijan.

08 August 2006
Baku Today


Not So Proud Californian said...

I can see that you have -0- comments, that's because no Armenian, being a proud supporter of terrorism, could objected to.

And that comes from the understanding that Hagop was just one of the Armenian's own "lovable pet".

Editor said...

Not So Proud Californian:

Just a little editorial background info on commenting option here:

The above article posted on 08 Aug 2006 whereas we have started testing the comment activation option here in the last several days only.

So that might be a reason for getting -0- comments here or might not be the case at all

Anonymous said...

There is a mistake in this interesting article: the ASALA was not a branch of the ARF, but a separate group. Initially, the most radical tendence of the ARF created a group of dashnaks and hunchakists, in 1971. But this groupe became independent to the ARF after 1972, and was called ASALA in 1975. The terrorist branch of the ARF, created in 1972, was the Justice Commando of Armenian Genocide (JCAG), called, after the Spring 1983, Armenian Revolutionary Army.

Anonymous said...

« released in 2001 from serving lifetime sentence in French prison in what essentially was President Chirac’s pardon »
Mr. Chirac had no part in the liberation of Mr. Karapetian. It was the decision of a tribunal. The French ministry of Justice refused, in several times, to liberate Mr. Karapetian. See « L'auteur de l'attentat d'Orly en 1983 libéré et expulsé vers l'Arménie », « Le Monde », April 25, 2001.
This decision is certainly a scandal, but not a political scandal.
Precision: as French citizen, I voted never for Mr. Chirac or for his party.

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