Grey Wolves

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This article is about the Turkish political group. For the animal, see Gray Wolf. For other uses, see Gray Wolves (disambiguation).
Grey Wolves
MHP flag.svg
Flag of MHP which is widely used by Grey Wolves[1]
Leader(s) Alparslan Türkeş[2]
Active region(s) Turkey
Ideology Far-right
Salutation of the Grey Wolves.

The Idealist Youth (Turkish: Ülkücü Gençlik), commonly known as Grey Wolves (Turkish: Bozkurtlar), is a Turkish ultra-nationalist[3][4][5] and neo-fascist[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] youth organization. It is the "unofficial militant arm" of the Nationalist Movement Party.[13] The Grey Wolves have been accused of terrorism.[6][8][9] According to Turkish authorities,[who?] the organization carried out 694 murders during the late-1970s political violence in Turkey, between 1974 and 1980.[14]


The organization is named after Asena,[citation needed] a female wolf in mythology associated with Turkic ethnic origins. Its formal name in Turkish is ülkücüler (idealists) and Ülkücü Hareket (The Idealist Movement), inspired[citation needed] by the 20th century Turkish writer Ziya Gökalp and later developed by the 20th century writer Nihal Atsız. Ülkü Ocakları (Hearths of Ideal), clubhouses of the Grey Wolves, denies "direct" links with the MHP and presents itself as an independent youth organization. Their female supporters are called Asena.[citation needed]


Role in 1980 military coup[edit]

At the time of the military coup of September 12, 1980, led by general Kenan Evren (who was also the leader of Counter-Guerrilla)[15] there were some 1,700 Grey Wolves organizations, with about 200,000 registered members and a million sympathizers.[citation needed] Grey Wolves, also known as Commandos conducted assassinations against left-wing intellectuals and academics in Turkey.[citation needed] The torturing and killing of many left-wing partisans and sympathizers are among their crimes.[citation needed] Grey Wolves, besides assassinations and bombings, also participated in massacres of minority community members in Çorum and in Maraş.[16] However, after being useful for Kenan Evren's strategy of tension,[citation needed] the National Security Council of the military regime outlawed the MHP, together with all the other political parties, and the Ülkücü Gençlik, together with other youth organisations from the right and left, such as the Revolutionary Youth. Türkeş and most other political party leaders (presidents) were arrested. In its indictment of the MHP in May 1981, the public prosecutor 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 Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia.

Role in Kurdish affairs[edit]

The MHP is strongly opposed to Kurdish separatists, namely the PKK.[13]

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.[15]

Activities to date[edit]

  • The Grey Wolves became the first foreign militant organization to participate in PLO training in Lebanon.[20]
  • 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.[21]
  • The Grey Wolves have also raised funds for Chechen guerrilla separatists, whom they consider their brothers.[22]
  • In 1996 the Grey Wolves were involved in an attack on a protest of Greek Cypriots against the occupation of Cyprus and in the murder of Tasos Isaac.One protester, Tasos Isaac, was beaten to death.[23]
  • In December 1996, the Grey Wolves attacked left-wing students and teachers at Istanbul University, under police sanction.[24]
  • In 2004, the Grey Wolves prevented the screening of Atom Egoyan's Ararat in Turkey, a film about the Armenian Genocide.[25][26][27][28]

Links to Operation Gladio[edit]

Main article: Counter-Guerrilla

The Grey Wolves were the most visible force at the command of the Counter-Guerrilla; the Turkish branch of Operation Gladio.[29] By using such paramilitary structures, the leaders were able to maintain a facade of plausible deniability.[14]

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.[30][31][32] 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.[33] 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".[30] Thus, in 1992, colonel Türkes went to newly independent Azerbaijan, where he was acclaimed as a hero. He supported Grey Wolves sympathiser Abulfaz Elchibey's candidacy to the presidency. Once elected, Elchibey 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 across Siberia, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and China. Isgandar Hamidov resigned in April 1993 after having threatened Armenia with a nuclear strike.[30]

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.[15] 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.[34] 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.[35][36]

Grey Wolves outside of Turkey[edit]


During the Nagorno-Karabakh War, around 500 Grey Wolves fought on the Azerbaijani side against the Armenian forces.[37] The organization continues to operate in Azerbaijan, although their name has been changed and it is known as the Azerbaijan National Democrat Party.[38][39]


There had already been attempts of infiltration of local politics by Grey Wolves in 2000, but during the municipal elections of 2006 two candidacies of leaders of Idealist clubs came to the attention of the media, Fuat Korkmazer on the Flemish Christian Democrats list in Ghent and Murat Denizli on the Francophone Socialist Party list in Schaerbeek, a commune in the Brussels Region. In both cases, political observers saw it as an attempt by Belgian parties to attract far-right Turkish voters in communes where there are numerous Turks, with or without Belgian citizenship. Korkmazer got a very low number of votes, while Denizli was elected but had to resign because it was discovered he had a false address and lived in another commune.[40][41][42]


In 1996, the Grey Wolves went to Cyprus in support of Turkish Cypriot protesters. Consequently, they were involved in attacks on Greek Cypriot properties and Greek Cypriot civilians,which resulted in the murder of Tassos Isaac.[43][44]


The first "Idealist club" was established on 18 June 1978 in Frankfurt as "Federation of Turkish Democratic Idealist Associations in Europe" (Avrupa Demokratik Ülkücü Türk Dernekleri Federasyonu).[45]


According to investigative reporter Lucy Komisar, the 1981 attempt on 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 Italy's strategy of tension, which ended with 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. Also 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.[46]

The Netherlands[edit]

Grey Wolves activists have participated - with varying successes - in the local politics of several Dutch municipalities.[47]



  • Doğan Öz, public prosecutor assassinated on 24 March 1978 by Haluk Kırcı, a Grey Wolves activist.[53]
  • Abdi İpekçi, journalist assassinated on February 1, 1979 in Istanbul.[54]
  • Tassos Isaac, a Greek Cypriot refugee who participated in a civilian demonstration against the Turkish military presence in Cyprus, murdered on 11 August 1996 by a mob of Grey Wolves inside the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus.[55]
  • Maraş Massacre on 21 December 1978 of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Alevis by Grey Wolves.[56][57]
  • Kutlu Adali, Turkish Cypriot journalist, killed July 6, 1996. Adali had criticised the Denktash regime and its policies in Cyprus.[58][59]


  • Fikret Aslan, Kemal Bozay: Graue Wölfe heulen wieder. Türkische Faschisten und ihre Vernetzung in der BRD. Münster 2000, ISBN 3-89771-004-8. (Grey wolves howl again. Turkish fascists and their networks in Germany.)
  • Barbara Hoffmann, Michael Opperskalski, Erden Solmaz: Graue Wölfe. Koranschulen. Idealistenvereine. Türkische Faschisten in der Bundesrepublik.. Köln 1981, ISBN 3-7609-0648-6. (Grey wolves. Koranic schools. Idealists clubs. Turkish fascists in Germany.)
  • Jean-Christophe Grangé: Das Imperium der Wölfe. Bergisch Gladbach 2005, ISBN 3-404-15411-8. (The empire of the wolves.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Harry Anastasiou, The Broken Olive Branch: Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and the Quest for Peace in Cyprus, Vol. 2, (Syracuse University Press, 2008), 152.
  4. ^ van Bruinessen, Martin (2000). "Transnational aspects of the Kurdish question". European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre. p. 27. 
  5. ^ Alexander, edited by Yonah; Brenner, Edgar H.; Krause, Serhat Tutuncuoglu (2008). Turkey : terrorism, civil rights, and the European Union (1. publ. ed.). London: Routledge. p. 6. ISBN 9780415441636. 
  6. ^ a b Political Terrorism, by Alex Peter Schmid, A. J. Jongman, Michael Stohl, Transaction Publishers, 2005p. 674
  7. ^ Annual of Power and Conflict, by Institute for the Study of Conflict, National Strategy Information Center, 1982, p. 148
  8. ^ a b The Nature of Fascism, by Roger Griffin, Routledge, 1993, p. 171
  9. ^ a b Political Parties and Terrorist Groups, by Leonard Weinberg, Ami Pedahzur, Arie Perliger, Routledge, 2003, p. 45
  10. ^ The Inner Sea: The Mediterranean and Its People, by Robert Fox, 1991, p. 260
  11. ^ "The Consortium". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  12. ^ "Crime of the Century". The Weekly Standard. 2005-04-07. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  13. ^ a b Combs, Cindy C.; Slann, Martin (2007). Encyclopedia of terrorism. New York: Facts On File. p. 110. ISBN 9781438110196. "In 1992, when it emerged again as the MHO, it supported the government's military approach regarding the insurgency by the Kurdistan Worker's Parry (PPK) in southeast Turkey and opposed any concessions to Kurdish separatists. .... The Grey Wolves, the unofficial militant arm of the MHP, has been involved in street killings and gunbattles." 
  14. ^ a b Albert J. Jongman, Alex Peter Schmid, Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Data Bases, Theories, & Literature, pp. 674
  15. ^ a b c Daniele Ganser (2005). NATO's Secret Armies, Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe. London: Franck Cass. ISBN 0714685003. [page needed]
  16. ^ David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, (I.B. Tauris, 2005), 415.
  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. Turkish Press Scanner. "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. [page needed]
  20. ^ Daniel Baracskay, The Palestine Liberation Organization: Terrorism and Prospects for Peace in the Holy Land, (ABC-CLIO, 2011), 146;"The neo-fascist Turkish youth organization known as "Grey Wolves" became the first foreign terrorist group to attend PLO training in Lebanon".
  21. ^ "Turkish Dirty War Revealed, but Papal Shooting Still Obscured" Martin A. Lee, Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1998.
  22. ^ Isingor, Ali (2000). "Istanbul: Gateway to a holy war". CNN (Italy). Archived from the original on 2008-05-24. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  23. ^ "Greece condemns Turkish barbarity". Cyprus News Agency. 1996-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  24. ^ Ayik, Zeki; Yoruk, Zafer F (1996-12-13). "Istanbul University: Alleged Police-Ulkucu Collaboration Escalates Tensions". Turkish Daily News (Hürriyet). Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  25. ^ "Egoyan award winning film not shown yet in Turkey". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2006-05-06. 
  26. ^ Sassounian, Harut (2004-01-15). "Gray Wolves Spoil Turkey's Publicity Ploy on Ararat". California Courier. ADL Ramgavar Azadagan France. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  27. ^ Ülkü Ocaklari: Ararat Yayinlanamaz (Turkish)
  28. ^ Ülkü Ocaklari: ARARAT'I Cesaretiniz Varsa Yayinlayin! (Turkish)
  29. ^ Pacal, Jan (19997-04-04). "The Short and Bloody History of Ulkucus". Turkish Daily News (Hürriyet). Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  30. ^ a b c Lee, Martin A. Les liaisons dangereuses de la police turque," Le Monde diplomatique, March 1997 (French)
  31. ^ The Double Standard: The Turkish State and Racist Violence (Chapter 13) in Racism in Europe (edited by Tore Bjorgo) (ISBN 0-312-12409-0)
  32. ^ 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. 
  33. ^ "NATO's Secret Armies: Chronology". Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security. ETH Zürich. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  34. ^ Nezan, Kendal (July 1998). "Turkey's pivotal role in the international drug trade". Le Monde Diplomatique. 
  35. ^ 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
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ Brzezinski, Zbigniew (1997). Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States: Documents, Data, and Analysis. Washington, D.C.: M.E. Sharpe. p. 616. ISBN 9781563246371. "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." 
  38. ^ 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. 
  39. ^ Fuller, Liz (2007-05-30). "Azerbaijan: Date For Presidential Ballot Confirmed". Radio Free Europe. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  40. ^ Dutch: Guy Van Vlierden, Grijze Wolven zijn ook actief in Vlaamse partijen - Turkse extreemrechtse beweging geïnfiltreerd in Agalev en SP.A, Alert!, October–November 2002
  41. ^ Dutch: Fuat Korkmazer stapt op bij Turkse vereniging, Het Nieuwsblad, 8 septembre 2006
  42. ^ French: Hugues Dorzée, Le loup gris du PS hante Schaerbeek, Le Soir, 12 October 2006
  43. ^ William Mallinson, Cyprus: A Modern History, (I.B.Tauris, 2005), 109.
  44. ^ "Turkish authorities incited buffer zone violence". Cyprus Newsletter. EMBASSY OF CYPRUS, WASHINGTON DC. September 1, 1996. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  45. ^ Turkish: Hakkımızda / Wir über uns (Official website of the Grey Wolves in Europe)
  46. ^ Komisar, Lucy. "The Assassins of a Pope". Retrieved 2006-07-04. 
  47. ^ Haffmans, Ernst. "Belabberd resultaat Grijze Wolven bij gemeenteraadsverkiezingen 2006". Onderzoeksgroep Turks extreem-rechts. 
  48. ^ "(4/6/97) The Assassins of a Pope". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  49. ^ "Turkey's pivotal role in the international drug trade - Le Monde diplomatique - English edition". 1998-05-20. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  50. ^ "Les liaisons dangereuses de la police turque, par Martin A. Lee (Le Monde diplomatique, mars 1997)". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  51. ^ "Hürriyet Arama Mobil". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  52. ^ " - newspaper archive, clipping service - newspapers and other news sources". 1999-01-24. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  53. ^ Hüseyin Gülerce, Spirits of Doğan Öz and Uğur Mumcu ask about Baykal, Today's Zaman, 15 January 2010
  54. ^ Ganser, Daniele, NATO's secret armies: operation Gladio and terrorism in Western Europe, (Routledge, 2005), 238.
  55. ^ Wes Johnson, Balkan inferno: betrayal, war and intervention, 1990-2005, (Enigma Books, 2007), 389.
  56. ^ Marcus, Aliza, Blood and belief: the PKK and the Kurdish fight for independence, (New York University Press, 2007), 50.
  57. ^ Yildiz, Kerim and Susan Breau, The Kurdish Conflict: International Humanitarian Law and Post-Conflict Mechanisms, (Routledge, 2010), 11.
  58. ^ Grey Wolves, Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Ed. Cindy C. Combs and Martin W. Slann, (Infobase Publishing, 2007), 110.
  59. ^ Barry M. Rubin, Judith Colp Rubin, Chronologies of modern terrorism, (M.E.Sharpe Inc., 2008), 93.

External links[edit]