The Armenian Revolutionary Army was formed to increase awareness of the Armenian genocide and further the cause of Armenian independence. In 1915, Turkey (then the center of the Ottoman Empire) attempted to eliminate systematically the sizable Armenian minority living within its borders; estimates of the final death toll range anywhere between a few hundred thousand to upwards of two million people. The anger of the Armenian people, both in Armenia and abroad, only grew with time. Turkey added fuel to the fire by refusing to acknowledge the scope of the killings or apologize publicly for them. By 1970, some were prepared to use terrorist violence to garner attention for their cause. Unlike some of the other Armenian terrorist organizations, such as ASALA, the ARA was not known to be influenced by Marxist-Leninist thought or affiliated with foreign Marxist-Leninist organizations. Its platform was purely nationalistic, calling for the establishment of an independent Armenian state (preferably on Turkish territory) and the public recognition of the Armenian genocide by Turkey. Some Armenians hoped that, as the Holocaust had generated international support for the founding of Israel, increasing awareness of the Armenian genocide (brought on by terrorist acts) might help them gain an independent homeland.
The first attack claimed by the ARA took place in 1970, when a library in Lisbon, Portugal was bombed. However, the next act of ARA violence did not take place until 1983, when a Turkish Embassy attache was gunned down in Brussels, causing some to question whether the 1970 bombing was perpetrated by a completely different Armenian Revolutionary Army. The 1983 date is misleading because the ARA was operating from 1978-1982 under the name "Justice Commandoes for the Armenian Genocide" (JCAG). JCAG bombed a number of Turkish targets (businesses, diplomatic cites, airline counters) in the US and Europe and promptly disappeared just as the ARA was born. However, this disappearance still does not shed much light on the question of whether or not the 1970 ARA and the 1978 JCAG shared members. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia has become an independent, sovereign state, fulfilling the major objective of most of the terrorists. Former terrorists now find themselves in the government or the military (or perhaps fighting the Azerbaijanis in the contested province of Nagorno-Kabakh), rather than conducting a campaign of international violence from the shadows. The last act of ARA terrorism took place in 1985, and no further activity is expected.