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Today in Terrorism

Thirteen injured in Grey Wolves attack on Armenian genocide memorial in France (May 13, 1984)

On this day in 1984, a memorial to the Armenian genocide in Paris was attacked by an alleged member of the Turkish terrorist group Grey Wolves resulting in 13 injuries.

On this day in 1984, a memorial to the Armenian genocide in Paris was attacked by an alleged member of the Turkish terrorist group Grey Wolves resulting in 13 injuries.

ALFORTVILLE, FRANCE – Writing as a Canadian and, more specifically one who worked in counter terrorism for a decade and a half, I am particularly interested when violent extremism makes its way to the shores of my nation. This thankfully occurs rather rarely, although it does indeed take place, meaning that Canadian security intelligence and law enforcement agencies do not have to run to stay in place as much as there counterparts in, say, Afghanistan do.

In addition, as a nation of nations – Canada is truly a modern multicultural phenomenon – we import a lot of good, and a little bit of bad. A small number of actors bring homeland conflicts with them when they come here and some engage in acts of violence here to further what they are trying to achieve ‘over there’.

The Armenian genocide of the late 1910s has spawned all kinds of terrorism, including some from a surprising source.

A good example which is germane to what I want to discuss in this edition of ‘Today in Terrorism’ is Armenian terrorism. The WWI planned genocide of Armenian Turks by the last dregs of the Ottoman Empire spawned a few terrorist groups which sought retribution for the atrocities committed to their forefathers and foremothers.

These groups carried out two terrorist attacks in Ottawa in the early and mid 1980s in which one Turkish diplomat and one civilian were killed. I remember both very well: I was stopped at a police roadblock in the aftermath of the first one in 1982 and watched the second one unfold as a newbie in the security intelligence world in 1985.

Ottawa tribute to slain Turkish envoy reopens old wounds - The ...
The car – or what was left of it – of Turkish Military Attache Colonel Atilla Altikat, killed on August 27 1982

As they say, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

In response to Armenian attacks against Turks, a few Turkish terrorist organisations arose to target Armenians (among others seen as ‘enemies’ of the Turkish people). One such outfit called itself the Grey Wolves (Bozkutlar in Turkish), an ultra-nationalist, neo-fascist youth organisation which was the “unofficial militant arm” of the Nationalist Movement Party.  According to Turkish authorities, the organisation carried out 694 murders between 1974–1980: there was even speculation that a member was behind the 13 May 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.

On this day in 1984 a Grey Wolves terrorist attacked an Armenian genocide memorial in the Parisian suburb of Alfortville. Thirteen people were injured, two seriously. The memorial bombing came after several bombings that occurred against Armenian institutions and monuments throughout France, such as the bombing of the Armenian Cultural Centre, also in Alfortville, in 1983. The assailants were never apprehended.

There is an old saying ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword’. For the record I am NOT trying to equate the Armenian genocide with an attack on a memorial – or a military attache. It is just that it strikes me as rare that violence is a salve for violence, or a solution.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Programme Director for the Security, Economics and Technology (SET) hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of five books on terrorism.

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