August 26, 1896: Armenians occupy Ottoman Bank in Istanbul to bring attention to the Hamidian massacres

On this day in 1896, Armenian terrorists occupied a bank in Istanbul to bring attention to the Ottoman Empire’s slaughter of Armenian civilians in the late 19th century.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth often apply to terrorism and terrorism reactions.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — People are interesting creatures. We are curious at times and at others could not seem to care less. Our attention spans are usually quite short. Just as an item in the news grabs our attention- squirrel! – we are off in another direction.

This tendency to move on must really frustrate those who advocate for a worthy cause. There certainly are enough conflicts and injustices out there to warrant attention, all with the intention of resolving them. And yet when the vast majority of us turn away and focus on something else it stands to reason that champions of the cause in question get frustrated.

On this day in 1896

An attack on this day in 1896 is a good example of this.  Members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation occupied the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul in order to bring the world’s attention to the inaction of the European powers to Hamidian massacres,  a series of atrocities carried out by Ottoman forces and Kurdish irregulars against Armenians between 1894 and 1896. Armed with pistols, grenades, dynamite and hand-held bombs, the seizure of the bank lasted for 14 hours, resulting in the deaths of ten of the Armenian terrorists and some Ottoman soldiers.

We transported close to 400 empty bombs during eight days from our secret foundry in Scutari to our workshop of Pera, in the house of Miss Iskouhi. After filling those bombs there, we transported them to various neighborhoods of Constantinople. We were only 10-15 trustworthy comrades to all this, teachers and students, twenty- to twenty-five-year-old people, including three young ladies.

The Ottomans were outraged at this takeover. The result was not pretty. Western observers estimated the subsequent deaths of Armenians at between 5000 and 6000 victims, killed in revenge for the actions of their confreres. The plan to garner the world’s attention to their plight backfired on the Armenian terrorists.

As it often does.

More ‘today in terrorism’

    By Phil Gurski

    Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

    Leave a Reply