The Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Operation ‘Nejuik’
The historiography on Armenian political activism has paid remarkably scant attention to the failed attempt on Sultan Abdülhamid II. This chapter, which provides a detailed account of the attack from the perspective of the plotters, aims to fill this hiatus. Specialists of terrorism agree that Armenian revolutionary committees were pivotal in the history of political violence, and the Yıldız plot was ‘innovative’ as it was the first to make use of a ‘car bomb’. Using sources from the Archives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), this contribution delves into the secret world of Armenian terrorism during the early twentieth century, analyzing some of the political, organizational and logistical complexities that involved this high-profile assassination attempt. It also tries to evaluate the important role played by the Belgian anarchist Edward Joris. How to characterize his relations with key members of the commando, including the pyro technician Vramshabouh Kendirian and the ARF’s founding father, Christapor Mikaelian? And how did the ARF respond to Joris’s subsequent imprisonment in Istanbul? Finally, the chapter shows that the ARF was more ‘multi-national’, socially diverse, and less monolithically male than usually assumed.