17 October 2007
Armenian Crime Amnesia?
www.WashingtonTimes.com Oct 16, 2007
Bruce Fein - Armenian crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Ottoman Turkish and Kurdish populations of eastern and southern Anatolia during World War I and its aftermath have been forgotten amidst congressional preoccupation with placating the vocal and richly financed Armenian lobby.
Last Wednesday, the Armenians hectored members of the House International Relations Committee by a 27-21 vote into passing a counterfactual resolution convicting the Ottoman Empire and its successor state, the Republic of Turkey, of genocide. A historically supportable resolution would have condemned massacres against Armenians with the same vigor, as it should have condemned massacres by Armenians against the innocent Muslim populations of the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
Capt. Emory Niles and Arthur Sutherland, on an official 1919 U.S. mission to eastern Anatolia, reported: "In the entire region from Bitlis through Van to Bayezit, we were informed that the damage and destruction had been done by the Armenians, who, after the Russians retired, remained in occupation of the country and who, when the Turkish army advanced, destroyed everything belonging to the Musulmans. Moreover, the Armenians are accused of having committed murder, rape, arson and horrible atrocities of every description upon the Musulman population. At first, we were most incredulous of these stories, but we finally came to believe them, since the testimony was absolutely unanimous and was corroborated by material evidence. For instance, the only quarters left at all intact in the cities of Bitlis and Van are Armenian quarters ... while the Musulman quarters were completely destroyed."
Niles and Sutherland were fortified by American and German missionaries on the spot in Van. American Clarence Ussher reported that Armenians put the Turkish men "to death," and, for days, "They burned and murdered." A German missionary recalled that, "The memory of these entirely helpless Turkish women, defeated and at the mercy of the [Armenians] belongs to the saddest recollections from that time."
A March 23, 1920, letter of Col. Charles Furlong, an Army intelligence officer and U.S. Delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, to President Woodrow Wilson elaborated: "We hear much, both truth and gross exaggeration of Turkish massacres of Armenians, but little or nothing of the Armenian massacres of Turks. ... The recent so-called Marash massacres [of Armenians] have not been substantiated. In fact, in the minds of many who are familiar with the situation, there is a grave question whether it was not the Turk who suffered at the hands of the Armenian and French armed contingents which were known to be occupying that city and vicinity. ... Our opportunity to gain the esteem and respect of the Muslim world ... will depend much on whether America hears Turkey's untrammeled voice and evidence which she has never succeeded in placing before the Court of Nations."
The United States neglected Col. Furlong's admonition in 1920, and again last Wednesday. Nothing seems to have changed from those days, when Christian lives were more precious than the lives of the "infidels."
Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville concluded that a staggering 2.5 million Anatolian Muslims died in World War I and the Turkish War of Independence. More than 1 million died in the Six Provinces in Eastern Anatolia, as Armenians with the help of Russia's invading armies sought to reclaim their historical homeland.
In contrast, best contemporaneous estimates place the number of Armenians who died in the war and its aftermath at between 150,000 and 600,000. The Armenian death count climbed to 1.5 million over the years on the back of political clout and propaganda.
The committee voiced horror over the Armenian suffering, but said nothing about the suffering Armenians inflicted on the Muslim population. Nor did the committee deplore the 60 years of Armenian terrorism in the Ottoman capital Istanbul, including assassination of the Armenian patriarch and an attempted assassination of the sultan as he was leaving prayer. Armenian terror was exported to the U.S. mainland and Europe by fanatics who murdered over 70 Turkish diplomats, three of them in Los Angeles and one honorary consul general in Boston.
Mourad Topalian, erstwhile head of the Armenian National Committee of America, a lead lobbying group behind the resolution and major campaign contributor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members, was sentenced to 36 months in prison for complicity in a conspiracy to bomb the Turkish mission at the United Nations. Yet Toplain has escaped a terrorist label by either Armenian-Americans or their echo chambers in Congress.
The home of the late Professor Stanford Shaw of the University of California-Los Angeles was firebombed in retaliation for his academic courage in disputing the Armenian genocide claim. Like Benito Mussolini, Armenians believe truth is an assertion at the head of a figurative bayonet.
In parts of Europe, disbelief in the Armenian genocide allegation is a crime on par with Holocaust denial. But the Holocaust was proven before the Nuremburg Tribunal with the trappings of due process. Armenians, in contrast, have forgone bringing their genocide allegation before the International Court of Justice because it is unsupported by historical facts.
In contrast to open Ottoman archives, significant Armenian archives remain closed to conceal evidence of Armenian terrorism and massacres.
If the resolution's proponents had done their homework and put aside religious bigotry, they would have reached the same conclusion as author and Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University: "[T]he point that was being made was that the massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was the same as what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany and that is a downright falsehood. What happened to the Armenians was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks, which began even before war broke out, and continued on a larger scale."
Brian Ardouny of the Armenian Assembly of America in a videotaped interview for a documentary on the Armenian Revolt clucked: "We don't need to prove the genocide historically, because it has already been accepted politically." Congress should reject that cynicism in defense of historical truth.
Bruce Fein is a resident scholar with the Turkish Coalition of America.
1 Hour (4 section) NBC News report on ARMENIAN terrorists at work in USA (and high level connections of Murad Topalian)
This is an actual FBI investigation, not a movie scenario.
Following Terror's Forgotten Trail
An explosives case raises ghosts of a bloody past
By David E. Kaplan
The Bedford Self-Serve Mini Storage Facility sits unobtrusively in a Cleveland suburb, next to a day-care center, an elementary school, and a gas station. It was four years ago that its manager, frustrated at six months of unpaid bills, sheared off the lock of unit J-2. He then called the police.
Pete Elliott, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fire-arms, hustled over to Bedford and was stunned by what he saw: a 16-year-old cache of high explosives--100 pounds of dynamite, blasting caps, and more--plus 13 firearms, a shopping bag full of ammo, and a dusty trench coat. The dynamite was leaking and extremely dangerous.
That day, Elliott launched what became a four-year investigation leading to a host of forgotten crimes, to a web of extremism that began a quarter century ago and ended in a federal courtroom last week. It would take America's proud Armenian community back to people and events many would prefer to forget--to bombings and coldblooded murders--and to still-heated charges of genocide that date back 85 years.
A man called Moose. Elliott's first task was finding who paid for the locker all those years. He grabbed the paperwork and found three renters going back to 1980, all paying in cash, all named Louise: Louise Sardella, Louise Fischel, Louise Seyranian. Everything about the records appeared false. One address was for an Open Pantry convenience store; a phone number led to a local sports club.
A storage employee vaguely recalled a woman who paid the rent, and she agreed to help an ATF artist on a composite drawing. Elliott, meanwhile, ordered traces for the 13 aging weapons. Only one came back positive: a 20-gauge shotgun tied to a woman in West Virginia. She was a former Cleveland resident, it turned out, whose son had sold the gun to her boss at an Open Pantry store, the same one as on the application. The boss, she recalled, was an Armenian fellow named Moose.
Elliott pulled the papers on the convenience store and found it was owned by Topalian Enterprises. He then acted on an old investigator's hunch--"When people lie, they lie close to home"--and ran searches on the names he'd found: Sardella, Topalian, Fischel, Seyranian. Sure enough, he found a Michelle Seyranian and a Mourad Topalian residing at the same address in a nearby town. But the woman's driver's license photo and the composite drawing looked nothing alike, and the couple now lived in Florida.
Elliott, though, found another Topalian was still in town, a Lucy Topalian. And Lucy's photo was a dead ringer for the composite. Moreover, her age fit, and her handwriting matched that on the rental agreement. Confronted by Elliott, a frightened Lucy admitted that years ago she rented the locker but said she knew nothing about the contents. She was told to do it by her former husband--Mourad Topalian, whose nickname was Moose.
Mourad Topalian was no ordinary suspect. At the time, he was chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, one of the nation's two leading Armenian associations. Tall and charismatic, he was well known in the halls of Congress and had met with President Clinton a half-dozen times. Although smaller than the Irish or Jewish American communities, the nation's 1 million ethnic Armenians back one of the best-organized ethnic lobbies in politics. Topalian and his allies have helped make tiny, landlocked Armenia one of the top per capita recipients of U.S. aid. Most of all, they have focused national attention on the Armenian genocide.
Starting in 1915, an eight-year campaign of massacres, murders, and deportations by the Ottoman Turks left dead up to 1.5 million Armenians, a calamity scholars widely agree was the 20th century's first genocide. In October, a resolution recognizing this nearly passed the House of Representatives but was withdrawn after White House pleadings that it would wreck relations with Turkey. Topalian, among others, was incensed. His grandparents had perished in Turkey, and his impassioned speeches on the genocide are legendary within the Armenian community.
Unsolved thefts. As Pete Elliott looked into Topalian's background, he learned the ATF had traced the Bedford explosives to an unsolved 1976 theft from a Michigan drilling site. The FBI had long suspected that those explosives ended up in the hands of Armenian terrorists; some of the dynamite later turned up at an Armenian youth camp in Franklin, Mass.
Elliott began reading up on Armenian terrorism. In the 1970s, a wave of terror fell upon Turkish officials, engineered by Armenian extremists furious over Turkish denials of the genocide. The attacks included 160 bombings and assassinations of 22 Turkish diplomats worldwide. The terror ebbed by the mid-1980s, but many attacks went unsolved.
Elliott soon found himself plunged into an aging Armenian underground. Once militant youths now had kids and mortgages; some broke down and cried as he interviewed them. After an investigation that spanned 25 states and Canada, the leaking bomb cache ultimately led Elliott to suspects in a string of terrorist attacks from a generation ago. He would come to believe that Mourad Topalian had led a double life, that the respected community leader had been a key figure in the world of Armenian terrorism. For many of Topalian's alleged compatriots, the statute of limitations had expired--but not for the man left holding the explosives.
By the fall of 1999, Mourad Topalian had turned 56, moved back to Cleveland, and taken a job as a vice president of Cuyahoga Community College. That October, Elliott helped arrest him in the college parking lot; Topalian was indicted for conspiracy to traffic in firearms and explosives and to commit acts of terror "against persons of Turkish descent." Prosecutors accused him of ordering the theft of the explosives, sending followers to Beirut for weapons training, and directing the 1980 car bombing of Turkey's mission to the United Nations, which badly injured three passersby. In other documents, they alleged that the stolen explosives were used in two 1981 bombings--of the Turkish consulate in Beverly Hills and the Orange County Convention Center--but officials say they have no evidence of Topalian's direct involvement in the California attacks. Investigators also believe he served as a top leader of the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide, a terrorist group that took credit for those attacks and more.
Topalian has maintained his innocence of any terrorist activity, and his trial drew over 60 letters to the judge from doctors, priests, and others attesting to his character. In a plea agreement last May, the conspiracy counts were dropped, and he pleaded guilty only to explosives and weapons charges. His backers suggest that pro-Turkish elements in the U.S. government have singled him out for persecution, and the Armenian community has raised over $300,000 for his defense. Topalian insists that he believed the storage locker held only supplies for relief efforts in Beirut, and that he pleaded guilty to spare his family the ordeal of further legal proceedings. "He was used," argues his attorney, Mark Geragos.
Federal officials remain unconvinced; they say that since at least 1983, the FBI has suspected Topalian of ties to terrorist activity. But this raises another troubling issue: How, then, did Topalian become a regular guest at the White House? According to official logs, Topalian visited the White House 17 times from 1993 to 1996, where he met with national security staff and had at least two sit-downs with President Clinton just months before the explosives were discovered. Only after Elliott alerted the Secret Service in 1996 was Topalian's access cut off. "Somebody dropped the ball," says one official.
Last week, a federal judge in Cleveland sentenced Topalian to 37 months in prison, the maximum allowed under sentencing guidelines. Jail takes him away from a wife and six children, including a 7-year-old daughter recovering from leukemia. His case, meanwhile, may open new investigations into acts of terror long forgotten, including the 1982 murders of diplomats in Boston and Ottawa. It was shortly after those murders that a Cleveland newspaper asked local Armenians how they felt about attacks on Turkish officials. "There are two victims," a young Mourad Topalian told the paper, "the one who got shot and the one who was pushed to that extreme."
This story appears in the February 5, 2001 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.
The Filthiest 48 Hours
By DAVID ZAHNISER
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
The Filthiest 48 Hours
Lies and distortions that fill the mailbox just before Election Day
By DAVID ZAHNISER
Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - 7:00 pm
Forty-eight hours before last week’s primary election, voters in the 43rd Assembly District checked their answering machines and found the audio equivalent of a stink bomb: (Click the link to hear the message) “What does Paul Krekorian have in common with a convicted terrorist? Plenty,” said the man with the pinched voice, who did not identify himself or the political entity paying for the call. “Convicted terrorist Mourad Topalian received an award from the Armenian National Committee and then pled guilty to weapons and explosives charges. Now, Paul Krekorian has accepted the endorsement of the Armenian National Committee.”
The caller explained how Krekorian — not to mention his wife, who is also Armenian — worked with the local chapter of the American National Committee of America to donate books to the Burbank Public Library. Then he offered a second warning about Krekorian, who was running for state Assembly in a district that includes Glendale and North Hollywood: “There’s no place in our community for a group that hands out awards to convicted terrorists. And there’s no place in the state Assembly for Paul Krekorian.”
The written version of the Krekorian attack was even more explosive, largely because the sender was the California Latino Leadership Alliance, a political-action committee that spent more than $60,000 on Krekorian’s opponent, Glendale City Councilman Frank Quintero. Suddenly, the attack was the subject of angry phone calls, press interviews and Armenian cable news shows.
“It’s an attempt to drive a wedge between the Armenian and Latino communities,” said Zanku Armenian, spokesman for the Western regional office of the Armenian National Committee of America. “It’s very unfortunate and actually disgusting that they would stoop to that level, trying to characterize an organization that does a lot of community service and voter outreach in that way.”
Quintero supporters were equally dismayed, saying the 11th-hour strike inadvertently smeared their candidate, a soft-spoken man who had spent 30 years forging ties with Armenian civic leaders. Still others said the campaign missive had the potential to leave lasting wounds in Glendale.
“We’ve had these underlying tensions between Latinos and Armenians for six years, and this flier doesn’t help,” said Glendale Community College trustee Victor King, who called the anti-Krekorian attack “the most racially divisive” he had seen in his city in 30 years.
Krekorian defeated Quintero in last week’s Democratic primary and, because the district is heavily Democratic, is expected to win the seat in November. But a week after the election, none of those responsible for the attack mail have been held to account, slipping through the cracks of the state’s arcane campaign-finance rules.
The California Latino Leadership Fund is an independent-expenditure committee, one of the entities that bankrolled some of the most vicious ads of the political season. By law, they may spend money on behalf of a candidate as long as that candidate is not involved in the effort. The California secretary of state’s Web site offers scant information on the organizers of the leadership fund, only listing phone numbers for the group’s treasurers, both of whom work at the Oakland-based firm Henry C. Levy & Co. Accountant Stacy Owens referred calls to the leadership fund’s lawyer, who did not respond to a request for comment. While she had seen the Armenian attack mailer, Owens had no comment on it.
“It’s not my job,” she said. “I don’t know the political atmosphere in Glendale, and I’m not responsible for content of mailers.”
Three contributors to the leadership fund said they were asked to contribute by Assemblyman Joe Coto, vice chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. Jose Mejia, director of the State Council of Laborers, said his group gave $15,000 at a fund-raiser earlier this year and was under the impression that the committee was being funded with help from leaders of the Latino Legislative Caucus, Coto and state Senator Martha Escutia, D-Los Angeles.
“We do get invited and make contributions to some of these groups, and then we later find out they did something like [the attack mailer],” Mejia said. “Or they put money into somebody that we didn’t take a position on or even endorsed against.”
Coto did not respond to three requests for comment. Escutia said she was not involved with the California Latino Leadership Fund, but did attend one of its fund-raisers in the past year. Escutia, who said she was appalled by the anti-Krekorian mailing, had no contacts for the group and could not remember the day of the fund-raiser.
“I’m not aware of the comings and goings of independent expenditures, of which there are so many,” she said. “You’re asking me questions about an I.E. that I don’t have any control over.”
The California Latino Leadership Fund based its Krekorian attack mailer on Mourad Topalian, a one-time head of the Armenian National Committee of America who was indicted in 1999 by a grand jury in Ohio. Topalian, who was living in the Cleveland area at the time, was accused by federal prosecutors of participating in the 1980 bombing of the Turkish Mission in New York City. Topalian reached an agreement with prosecutors in 2001, pleading guilty to charges of storing illegal explosives and owning two machine guns.
At the time of his arrest, the FBI identified Topalian as a suspected leader of the Justice Commandoes of the Armenian Genocide. Topalian denied he was a terrorist but agreed to plead guilty to storing the weapons, which prosecutors insisted were used in the Turkish Mission bombing.
When the federal charges were filed, Topalian resigned from his post at the ANC, a group described by its members as fully integrated into the political and philanthropic life of Los Angeles and other parts of the country. The ANC endorsed the candidacy of Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti — whose Hollywood district includes Little Armenia — as well as Quintero and Krekorian in various races. The head of the ANC’s Glendale office, Steve Dadaian, served on Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s transition team.
When the terror mailer hit, Quintero posted a letter on his Web site denouncing it. Garcetti, who had endorsed Quintero, said the Glendale councilman was “sick to his stomach” over its contents. And King, the Glendale-college trustee, insisted that Quintero would never have engaged in such self-destructive behavior. “People are really upset about this flier, but they shouldn’t be directing it at Frank Quintero, who is innocent,” King said. “This guy is a really good guy, and if someone like him can be smeared by this, any of us could get it.”
Krekorian responded in a different way. With 36 hours left before the polls opened, he persuaded a handful of elected officials to denounce the attack through a new round of automated phone calls across the 43rd Assembly District. In Silver Lake and Los Feliz, calls were made by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg. In Glendale and Burbank, messages were left by state Senator Jack Scott. U.S. Representatives Brad Sherman and Loretta Sanchez also pitched in.
With the primary election behind him, Krekorian has made little progress in tracing the money that paid for the hit piece, finding instead a web of campaign committees and intersecting political relationships. “They do these things specifically to avoid accountability,” he said.
Fund-raising reports show that the California Latino Leadership Fund spent nearly $100,000 on behalf of state Senate candidate Lou Correa, who prevailed Tuesday in his race against Assemblyman Tom Umberg. Correa and Quintero relied on the same campaign consultant — Sacramento-based Phil Giarrizzo. A third legislative candidate backed by the Latino fund was Assembly candidate Renee Chavez of La Puente, whose political consultant was Leo Briones, Escutia’s husband. The Latino fund spent $42,630 on behalf of Chavez, a week after it paid Briones $99,398 to send mailers supporting Correa.
Furthermore, the California Latino Leadership Fund found other ways to fund Quintero’s Assembly bid. On May 10, it contributed $75,000 to the blandly titled Communities for Good Government. That group, in turn, spent $47,797 on Quintero’s behalf.
Communities for Good Government also spent $122,788 on the candidacy of Alhambra Councilman Dan Arguello, who ran for the state Assembly last week against Monterey Park Councilman Mike Eng. That group was also funded by a third committee, the Oakland-based Vote Matters, which has the same address and treasurer as the California Latino Leadership Fund.