Gurgen Yanikian was one of those who determined the direction of modern Armenian history. The Carinthian Armenian was still a child when he witnessed his people’s greatest pain, the genocide against the Armenians. All his life Yanikyan tried to get the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide punished and revenge on his compatriots by all possible peaceful means, but he had a very different solution and tasks planned from above. On January 27, 1973, at the age of 78, Gourgen Yanikian steadfastly fired 13 bullets at the Turkish Consul and Vice Consul in Santa Barbara. He called the police, and upon their arrival he claimed to be the author of the murder. He was sentenced to life in prison. On February 10, 1984, he was transferred from prison to a hospital, where he died 17 days later.
News of his death was published in the New York Times Magazine on March 1, 1984. It was a small news story with misleading information, titled “Arrested Armenian Passes Away.”
The content was as follows:
“Armenian writer and engineer Gurgen Mkrtich Yanikian, who killed two Turkish consuls in California in 1973, died a natural death in prison Monday. He was 88 years old. In July 1973, he was sentenced to life in prison for murder.”
With these shootings in Santa Barbara began the struggle for Armenian revenge, a new phase of Armenian demand. Yanikian was considered the spiritual founder of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) or “ASALA.”
On January 20, 1975, a bomb exploded outside the offices of the World Council of Churches in Beirut. The “military group of Gurgen Yanikian” claimed responsibility for the operation. This was the day on which ASALA was officially founded. In the following months and years, until December 1990, ASALA conducted 300 armed operations around the world.