An Armenian terrorist leader assassinated outside his home by two gunmen had faced internal opposition, including a breakaway terrorist movement, a report said Friday.
The report in an Athens newspaper said Hagop Hagopian, 39, leader of the terrorist organization known as the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, or ASALA, faced a dissident movement within the ranks. But police did not name any suspects in the Thursday assassination and the newspaper did not link the dissident group specifically to the crime.Police said the two masked gunmen forced Hagopian to kneel and then pumped several bullets from a revolver and sawed-off shotgun into his head, abdomen and elbow.
ASALA is fighting a terrorist war against Turkey, which it blames for the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I, and is seeking the liberation of Armenian territories under Turkish rule.
The organization has claimed responsibility for more than 50 terrorist attacks against Turkish targets in various parts of the world, including the assassination of 13 Turkish diplomats between 1975 and 1983.
In July 1983, a bomb attack against the counter of Turkish Airlines at Orly Airport in Paris killed six people and wounded more than 50. ASALA under Hagopian claimed responsibility.
The Athens daily Messimvrini quoted sources as saying Hagopian was originally a hero for the Armenians, having founded ASALA in 1975. But after 1983, ASALA split in two. The anti-Hagopian group called itself the "Revolutionary ASALA," the newspaper reported.
The Washington Post quoted a U.S. intelligence source Friday as saying: "It's hard to say who hit him. He was not a nice character by any stretch of the imagination. He was certainly a very wanted man."
The Post also said Hagopian had numerous enemies as leader of ASALA.
Police said Hagopian, the father of two children, had lived in Athens for almost a year, made frequent trips abroad and was passing as a businessman.
Hagopian was going with his 25-year-old sister-in-law to the Athens airport to catch a Yugoslav Airlines flight to Belgrade at the time of the assassination, police said.