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Grey Wolves (Turkish: Bozkurtlar) or Idealist Youth (Turkish: Ülkücü Gençlik) is an ultra-nationalist[1] neo-fascist[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] youth organization of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (Turkish: Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP).[9] It is accused of terrorism.[10][11][12]

They are named after Asena, a female wolf in mythology associated with Turkic ethnic origins. Their formal name in Turkish is ülkücüler (idealists) and Ülkücü Hareket (The Idealist Movement), inspired from 19th Century Turkish writer Ziya Gökalp later developed by 20th century writer Nihal Atsız Ülkü Ocakları (Forges of Ideal), the proper platform of Grey Wolves, denies any "direct" links with MHP and presents itself as an independent youth organisation. Their female supporters are called Asena.

The Grey Wolves were the most visible force at the command of the Counter-Guerrilla; the Turkish branch of Operation Gladio.[13] They were essentially pawns in the Cold War, harassing leftists on behalf of the right-wing establishment. By using such paramilitary structures, the leaders were able to maintain a facade of plausible deniability. According to Turkish authorities, the organization carried out 694 murders from 1974–1980.[14]




Foundation and ideology

The Grey Wolves were founded as the youth organization of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) created by Alparslan Türkeş in 1969. A significant pillar of the MHP's ideology is the dream of creating the Turan, the "Great Turkish Empire", including all Turkic peoples mainly in the successor Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union as well as the Caucasus and the Uygurs' homeland of East Turkestan in the Xinjiang province of Northwestern China.

The Grey Wolves also rally around Pan-Turkic Causes including: the economic isolation and territorial integrity of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; the Armenian military occupation[15] of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas, and the subsequent displacement of Azeri civilians; the assimilation campaigns and suppression of the Iraqi Turkmens in Kirkuk and adjacent regions in Northern Iraq by the Kurdistan Regional Government; and the suppression of Uygur culture and Chinese colonization of Eastern Turkestan. The Grey Wolves are also known to be supporters of Azeri activists that campaign for greater cultural rights in Iran.

They have also been known to support non-Turkic people whom they consider to have kinship with Turkish people. It is for this reason that Grey Wolves have supported the Chechen Independence Struggle, the KLA-led Albanian movement in Kosovo, and the Bosniaks' resistance in the Bosnian War.

Role in 1980 military coup

At the time of the military coup of September 12, 1980, led by general Kenan Evren (who was also the leader of Counter-Guerrilla)[16] there were some 1,700 Grey Wolves organizations, with about 200,000 registered members and a million sympathisers. Grey Wolves, also known as Commandos conducted assassinations against left-wing intellectuals and academics in Turkey. The torturing and killing of many left-wing partisans and sympathisers are among their crimes. Grey Wolves, besides assassinations and bombings, also participated in massacres of minority community members in Çorum and Maraş. However, after being useful for Kenan Evren's strategy of tension, the leader of the Counter-Guerrilla turned president outlawed the MHP and the Grey Wolves. Colonel Türkeş and other Grey Wolves were arrested. In its indictment of the MHP in May 1981, the Turkish military government charged 220 members of the MHP and its affiliates for 694 murders.[17] However, imprisoned Grey Wolves members were offered amnesty if they accepted to fight the Kurdish separatism and the PKK,[18] and ASALA ("Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia").

The Grey Wolves then lost many of its core cadres to the neo-liberal Motherland Party or various vestiges of the Islamist movement. In 1983, the Nationalist Task Party ("Milliyetçi Çalışma Partisi", MÇP) was founded as a successor to the MHP; as of 1992 it is again known as the MHP.

Role in Kurdish affairs

The MHP is strongly opposed to Kurdish separatists, namely the militant PKK, although they nevertheless do have some Kurdish supporters, who are called Bozkürtler or "Grey Kurds".

The paramilitary wing of the Grey Wolves have been utilized by the Turkish intelligence services to assassinate PKK leaders.[19] The fact that Counter-Guerrilla had engaged in torture was confirmed by Talat Turhan, a former Turkish colonel.[16]

Activities to date

  • On a global scale, the Grey Wolves are suspected to have been responsible for numerous political assassinations and disappearances of Turkish and Kurdish human rights activists, and are known to have ties with the Turkish mafia.[20]

The Grey Wolves have also raised funds for Chechen guerrilla separatists, whom they consider their brothers.[21]

  • In 1996 the Grey Wolves were involved in an attack on a peaceful protest of Greek Cypriots against the occupation of Cyprus. One protester, Tasos Isaac, was beaten to death.[22]
  • In December 1996, the Grey Wolves attacked left-wing students and teachers at Istanbul University, under police sanction.[23]

Links to Operation Gladio

Numerous sources show that the MHP and the Grey Wolves had ties to the Turkish mafia, to the Turkish intelligence services as well as to the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Former military public attorney and member of the Turkish Supreme Court, Emin Değer, has established that the Grey Wolves collaborated with the counter-insurgency governmental forces, as well as the close ties between these state security forces and the CIA.[28][29][30] Indeed, Martin A. Lee also wrote that the para-military wing of the Grey Wolves were covertly supported by the CIA, which worked with the Gladio network,[19] while a December 5, 1990 article by the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung stated that the Counter-Guerrilla had their headquarters in the building of the US DIA military secret service.[31] Le Monde diplomatique wrote that "the CIA used proponents of the Greater Turkey to stir up anti-sovietic passions at the heart of Turkish Muslim minorities in the Soviet Union".[28] Thus, in 1992, colonel Türkes went to newly-independent Azerbaijan, where he was acclaimed as a hero. He supported Grey Wolves sympathiser Abülfaz Elçibay's candidacy to the presidency. Once elected, Elçibay chose as ministry of Interior İsgandar Hamidov, a member of the Grey Wolves who plead for the creation of a Greater Turkey which would include northern Iran and extend itself to Siberia, India and China. Hamidov resigned in April 1993 after having threatened Armenia with a nuclear strike.[28]

According to Daniele Ganser, a researcher at the ETH Zürich University, the founder of the Grey Wolves, Alparslan Türkeş was a member of Counter-Guerrilla, the Turkish branch of Gladio, a stay-behind NATO anti-communist paramilitary organization which was supposed to prepare networks for guerrilla warfare in case of a Soviet invasion.[16] Le Monde diplomatique confirms that the Grey Wolves were infiltrated and manipulated by Gladio, and that important Grey Wolves member Abdullah Çatlı had worked with Gladio. According to the same article, Abdullah Çatlı met with Italian international terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie, who, aside from taking part in Italy' strategy of tension, also maintained links with Pinochet's DINA and participated in the Argentinian dirty war.[32] However, it is alleged that in Italy and Turkey, Gladio supported a strategy of tension (Italian: strategia della tensione) which used false flag terrorist attacks in order to discredit the communist movement.[33][34]

Grey Wolves outside of Turkey

Republic of Azerbaijan

The Grey Wolves have provided support to Azeri forces fighting Armenians during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[35] The Grey Wolves Party still functions in Azerbaijan, although its name has been changed to the Azerbaijan National Democrat Party.[36][37]


The Grey Wolves in western Europe today were originally sent there at the end of the 1970s and the early 1980s to infiltrate Turkish immigrant workers.[citation needed] Their task was to combat Turkish left-wingers who had left Turkey because of harsh state repression but, later also focused on Kurds.[citation needed] As a result, the Grey Wolves stepped up their activities in the Netherlands by founding the TFN, Turkish Federation of Holland, in 1995. The latter now has around 56 local units and an estimated membership of 30,000.[citation needed]


According to investigative reporter Lucy Komisar, the 1981 attempt on Pope John Paul II's life by Grey Wolves member Mehmet Ali Ağca may have been related to Gladio. Ali Ağca would in this case have been manipulated by NATO's clandestine structure, in an attempt to fuel again Italy's strategy of tension, which last big event was the 1980 Bologna massacre. Komissar underlines the fact that Ali Ağca had worked with Abdullah Çatlı in the January 1, 1979 murder of Abdi İpekçi, the editor of left-wing newspaper Milliyet. "Çatlı then reportedly helped organize Ağca's escape from an Istanbul military prison, and some have suggested Çatlı was even involved in the Pope's assassination attempt" reports Lucy Komisar, adding that at the scene of the Mercedes-Benz crash where Çatlı died, he was found with a passport under the name of "Mehmet Özbay" - an alias also used by Mehmet Ali Ağca.[38]


The Grey Wolves went to Cyprus to support Turkish Cypriot protesters in 1996. The Grey Wolves were involved in attacks on Greek Cypriot properties and Greek Cypriot civilians.[39][40]

See also


  1. ^ " Update to the UNHCR CDR Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Turkey" - UNHCR
  2. ^ Political Terrorism, by Alex Peter Schmid, A. J. Jongman, Michael Stohl, Transaction Publishers, 2005p. 674
  3. ^ Annual of Power and Conflict, ‎by Institute for the Study of Conflict, National Strategy Information Center, 1982, p. 148
  4. ^ The Nature of Fascism, by Roger Griffin, Routledge, 1993, p. 171
  5. ^ Political Parties and Terrorist Groups, by Leonard Weinberg, Ami Pedahzur, Arie Perliger, Routledge, 2003, p. 154
  6. ^ The Inner Sea: The Mediterranean and Its People, by Robert Fox, 1991, p. 260
  7. ^
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Update to the UNHCR CDR Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Turkey - UNHCR movement founded by Alparslan Türkeş in 1969.
  10. ^ Political Terrorism, by Alex Peter Schmid, A. J. Jongman, Michael Stohl, Transaction Publishers, 2005p. 674
  11. ^ The Nature of Fascism, by Roger Griffin, Routledge, 1993, p. 171
  12. ^ Political Parties and Terrorist Groups, by Leonard Weinberg, Ami Pedahzur, Arie Perliger, Routledge, 2003, p. 154
  13. ^ Pacal, Jan (19997-04-04). "The Short and Bloody History of Ulkucus". Turkish Daily News (Hürriyet). Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  14. ^ Albert J. Jongman, Alex Peter Schmid, Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Data Bases, Theories, & Literature, pp. 674
  15. ^ Mr David Atkinson, United Kingdom, European Democrat Group, (Rapporteur) The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 29 November 2004
  16. ^ a b c Daniele Ganser (2005). NATO's Secret Armies, Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe. London: Franck Cass. ISBN 0714685003. 
  17. ^ Searchlight (magazine), No.47 (May 1979), pg. 6. Quoted by Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead in The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection. (New York: Sheridan Square, 1986), pg. 50.
  18. ^ Former Grey Wolves member İbrahim Çiftçi speaking to Milliyet on 13 November 1996. "They have used and discarded us". Turkish Daily News. Milliyet. 1996-11-14. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  19. ^ a b Lee, Martin A (1999). The Beast Reawakens: Fascism's resurgence from Hitler's Spymasters to Today's Neo-Nazi Groups and Right Wing Extremists. Routledge. ISBN 0415925460. 
  20. ^ "Turkish Dirty War Revealed, but Papal Shooting Still Obscured" Martin A. Lee, Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1998.
  21. ^ Isingor, Ali (2000). "Istanbul: Gateway to a holy war". CNN (Italy). Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  22. ^ "Greece condemns Turkish barbarity". Cyprus News Agency. 1996-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  23. ^ Ayik, Zeki; Yoruk, Zafer F (1996-12-13). "Istanbul University: Alleged Police-Ulkucu Collaboration Escalates Tensions". Turkish Daily News (Hürriyet). Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  24. ^ "Egoyan award winning film not shown yet in Turkey". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2006-05-06. 
  25. ^ Sassounian, Harut (2004-01-15). "Gray Wolves Spoil Turkey's Publicity Ploy on Ararat". California Courier. ADL Ramgavar Azadagan France. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  26. ^ Ülkü Ocaklari: Ararat Yayinlanamaz (Turkish)
  27. ^ Ülkü Ocaklari: ARARAT'I Cesaretiniz Varsa Yayinlayin! (Turkish)
  28. ^ a b c Lee, Martin A. Les liaisons dangereuses de la police turque," Le Monde diplomatique, March 1997 (French)
  29. ^ The Double Standard: The Turkish State and Racist Violence (Chapter 13) in Racism in Europe (edited by Tore Bjorgo) (ISBN 0-312-12409-0)
  30. ^ Maksudyan, Nazan (November 2005), "The Turkish Review of Anthropology and the Racist Face of Turkish Nationalism", Cultural Dynamics 17 (3): 291–322, doi:10.1177/0921374005061992 
  31. ^ "NATO's Secret Armies: Chronology". Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security. ETH Zürich. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  32. ^ Nezan, Kendal (1998 July). "Turkey's pivotal role in the international drug trade". Le Monde Diplomatique. 
  33. ^ Official documents on ISN (hosted by ETH Zürich) concerning Gladio, including SIFAR (Italian military service) report on Gladio, extracts of former CIA director William Colby's memoirs, Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti's public revelation to the Senate of the existence of Gladio in October 1990, Parliamentary investigation into the Swiss Defense Ministry, 1995 Italian parliamentary report on Terrorism, etc
  34. ^ Secret Warfare: Operation Gladio and NATO's Stay-Behind Armies ETH Zürich research project on Gladio directed by Dr. Daniele Ganser. Many documents available in various languages, including Turkish articles; audio interviews of Ganser; Ganser's June 2005 article in The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations; Der Spiegel article, etc.
  35. ^ Brzezinski, Zbigniew, Paige Sullivan and Center for Strategic and International Studies, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, (M.E.Sharpe Inc., 1997), 616. It is also revealed that a new force of 200 armed members of the Grey Wolves organization has been dispatched from Turkey in preparation for a new Azeri offensive and to train units of the Azeri army.
  36. ^ Fuller, Liz (2003-06-23). "AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN GETS UNDER WAY". RFE/RL Caucasus Report (Radio Free Europe) 6 (23). Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  37. ^ Fuller, Liz (2007-05-30). "Azerbaijan: Date For Presidential Ballot Confirmed". Radio Free Europe. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  38. ^ Komisar, Lucy. "The Assassins of a Pope". Retrieved 2006-07-04. 
  39. ^ "TURKISH AUTHORITIES INCITED BUFFER ZONE VIOLENCE". Cyprus Newsletter. EMBASSY OF CYPRUS, WASHINGTON DC. September 1, 1996. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  40. ^ Kushner, Harvey W., Encyclopedia of Terrorism, (Sage Publications Inc., 2003), 154.

External links


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