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Sudden Desistance from Terrorism: The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia and the Justice Comandos of the Armenian Genocide


Sudden Desistance from Terrorism: The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia and the Justice Comandos of the Armenian Genocide

Abstract: 

In this paper we examine the trajectories of two Armenian terrorist groups: the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG). Both groups began in the mid-1970s and by the early 1980s had become extremely active. However, shortly afterwards, attacks and fatalities attributed to ASALA and JCAG plummeted, and by 1988 both groups had effectively disintegrated. The pivotal historical event in our analysis is an especially brutal attack on Paris's Orly Airport in 1983, which we believe undermined the legitimacy of ASALA among its supporters in the Armenian diaspora and in the West. We use data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) from 1975 to 1988 as well as extensive qualitative evidence to examine these issues. Based on Cox proportional hazard models, we find that both total ASALA attacks and ASALA attacks on non-Turkish targets significantly increased until the Orly incident, but significantly decline thereafter. Although JCAG was not involved in the Orly bombing and in general had a much more disciplined approach, JCAG attacks also declined rapidly following Orly. The results suggest that when a terrorist organization depends heavily on a diaspora, overreaching in terrorist targeting offers a strong opening for discrediting terrorism as a tactic, even discrediting terrorists who have not overreached.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Huang, Julie, and Laura Dugan, Gary LaFree, Clark McCauley. 2008. "Sudden Desistance from Terrorism: The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia and the Justice Comandos of the Armenian Genocide." Dynamics of Assymetric Conflict (November): 231-249. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17467580902838227#preview

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