he Armenian guerrilla organization that this week took over the Turkish Consulate in Paris, killing a security guard, warned today that it had two other "suicide commando" squads awaiting orders to strike against Turkish officials or institutions.
In a news conference held in the heavily guarded cellar of a West Beirut apartment usually used by a Libyan-backed Lebanese militia group, a black-hooded leader of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia said that his organization would continue to attack Turkish interests "by any means possible" because of Turkey's continuing denial of Armenian rights.
"In the days to come our words will be borne out," the hooded leader, who used the alias of Hagop Hagorian, said as four other hooded guerrillas stood in the back of the room, some taking notes, others holding brand-new submachine guns.
Since its founding in 1975, the group has claimed 200 bombings and assassinations aimed at the Turkish government, which they accuse of massacring 1.5 million Armenians in World War I, of forcing emigration of another half a million and continuing to repress Armenians who still live in Turkey.
The only unmasked member in the press conference was the interpreter, a former economist named Alexander Yenkomeshian, who is partially blind and missing his left hand after a bomb exploded in a Geneva hotel room last year where he was with another accused guerrilla, Suzy Mahseredjian, of Canoga Park, Calif.
Yenkomeshian recently was released by authorities after a long bout in the hospital. Mahseredjian was tried and acquitted on an explosives charge but convicted and given a suspended sentence on extortion charges.
The organization, one of four Armenian guerilla groups known to be active against the Turks, is avowedly Marxist-Leninist and has singled out the Turks for attack while leaving the Soviet Union alone, although the land once occupied by the ancient kingdom of Armenia before its collapse to the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century was divided between Turkey and the Soviet Union after World War I.
Hagorian also delivered veiled threats today against the French government of President Francois Mitterrand, accusing him of going back on promises to grant political asylum to the four Armenian Secret Army commandos who stormed the Turkish Consulate in Paris Thursday. They killed a Turkish security guard and seriously wounded the Turkish vice consul, Kaya Inal.
The commando group took over the consulate and held 51 persons hostage for 15 hours before giving up to French police. The Turkish government had refused to acknowledge their threats to kill all hostages if Armenian and Kurdish political prisoners being held in Turkish jails were not freed.
Hagorian said that the commando, which had been prepared to carry out its threats at the first sign of French efforts to retake the consulate by force, had surrendered without harming the hostages after negotiations were held between the French Interior Ministry and the commando leader, Vasken Sicilian, who had been wounded in the shoulder in the consulate takeover. He began the talks when he left the consulate for medical treatment.
Hagorian said that it was only after political asylum had been promised to the commandos that Sicilian telephoned a coded message to his deputy in the consulate ordering the release of all hostages and the surrender of the guerrillas.
French Interior Minister Gaston Deferre had confirmed the offer of political asylum in a radio interview, although the minister later said he had been misunderstood. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the guerrillas would be tried according to the laws of France and that the only agreement that had been made to them is that their lives would be spared if they gave up.
"If the French authorities continue to to follow this line, Hagorian said, "there will no doubt be a confrontation between them and us." He would not elaborate on the point, however, and made no direct threats to unleash his other two suicide squads against the French.
Hagorian said the Paris raid had been staged more to draw international attention to the group's cause, not out of any expectation that Turkey would free the prisoners. He said Turkey's refusal to free the prisoners, despite the threat against its officials and French civilians among the hostages, proved that Turkish leaders "have no humanitarian standards and only understand the language of force, the language of the gun."
The Armenian Secret Army has long been suspected of having its headquarters in Beirut, where 40 other armed militias and guerrilla groups operate because of the easy access to weapons and vacuum of authority. But they have always been elusive and have kept their leadership and organizational structure secret.
Before today, they had held only one other press conference in Lebanon, last year in Sidon, a location that reinforced assessments that it had strong links with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, from which it is believed to have received training.
Hagorian today denied any support from Palestinian groups, insisting that his organization was "completely independent."
Nonetheless, today's press conference was held in a building that houses a Libyan-funded radio station known as "The Voice of Arab Revolution" and was guarded by members of a pro-Libyan militia, the Lebanese Arab Army.
All future contacts with the Armenian Secret Army, reporters were told, should be made through the Al Shaghyla news agency, another Libyan-funded operation.