By Emanuel Pietrobon, The Giornale
Among the armed units that Turkey could use to advance its foreign policy agenda, such as the Sadat Company and Syrian jihadist groups, there is one organization that stands out more than others: the Gray Wolves (Bozkurtlar).
Western public opinion began to become familiar with the name on May 13, 1981, the day of the sensational assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in Rome by their professional assassin, Mehmet Ali Ağca.
The recent history of this organization was also marked by no less important events, such as the participation in coups – in Azerbaijan in 1995 – the wars – from Nakorgno Karabakh in Chechnya – terrorist attacks like those in Bangkok in 2015 – and “the hunt for Armenians ”inside and outside the country, as was the case in Lyon, France in 2020.
For the aforementioned and other reasons, the “Gray Wolves” have been banned in some countries, most recently by France in November 2020, although in Turkey they operate freely and enjoy a certain popularity among the public, even though it is an organization extremist but completely legitimate – affiliated with the Nationalist Party of Devlet Bahceli, and moreover closely associated with the armed forces and the Deep State, which in turn is linked to the security and stability of the Turkish Republic.
Their debut during the Cold War
The Gray Wolves were founded by Alparslan Türkeş in the 1960s. Türkeş was previously the founder of the Nationalist Party, and a prominent figure in Turkish politics at the time. He was the spokesman for the coup carried out by the Turkish army in 1960, which led to the overthrow of Adnan Menderes.
Türkeş was also one of the most important theorists of Pan-Turkism and Turanism, and one of the main contacts of the United States and NATO in Turkey. The de facto “Gray Wolves” were created in the context of curbing the Soviet Union, and as an organization embedded in the NATO background.
Ideologically on the right – even on the extreme right – the “Gray Wolves” of the Cold War are characterized by a mixture of pan-Turkic, Turanian, anti-communist, anti-Armenian, anti-Kurdish and Hellenophobic elements. Engaged on the front line in the fight against communism in Turkey, even physically fighting through its militants, as well as recruiting members of the Turkish population, especially young people in universities, the “Gray Wolves” were among the great protagonists. of the turbulent years that Turkey experienced – the years 1976-1980 – being involved in assassinations, urban clashes, bombings and massacres – from the ambush in Taksim Square on May 1, 1977 to the massacre of Alevis in Kahramanmaraş in 1978.
In 1980, at the height of the violence between extremist opposition groups that forced the army to stage a new coup, the “Gray Wolves” had 200,000 members and 1 million sympathizers throughout Anatolia: an armed, trained and good army -structured, in the service of the anti-Soviet agenda of the United States, NATO and the Deep Turkish State.
Links with NATO and the Deep Turkish State
Coups by the military are a constant in the history of republican Turkey, sometimes organized to fight Islamism (the overthrow of Erbakan in 1997), some to curb the remnants of pan-Turkism (the overthrow of Menderes in 1960), or coups state to restore order on the streets (Demirel’s ouster in 1980).
The victims vary, but the “Gray Wolves” are not affected in any case by the purges. This happened during the overthrow of Menderes, or in 1980 and 1997. The reason for the inviolability of this organization, comes from the fact that it is an integral part of the Deep Turkish State.
Therefore, the violence she commits both inside and outside the country, follows the sometimes ruthless logic of national interest. But the period of massacres during the years 1976-1980, served to legitimize the coup that followed by the Turkish army.
Links to the Deep State and Turkish organized crime became known to the public in 1996, when the Susurluk scandal erupted. That year, Abdullah Chatley, a notorious drug trafficker and the No. 2 Gray Wolves, lost his life in a car accident that was never fully uncovered, triggering a series of events that revealed links between the organization, the secret services and the mafia. turke.
Their involvement in the commissioned assassinations and assassinations would be strongly confirmed only 10 years later, with the launch of the mega-process against the Ergenekon network, a secret organization born of Kemalist fanatics and secret services. , on which even justice has not shed much light.
It was during that trial that Turkish public opinion revealed the reason why the “Gray Wolves” were never affected by the activities of investigators or the military that carried out the coups: their killers were constantly engaged in the operations of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT). , Milli İstihbarat (Teşkilatı), especially towards the Kurdish galaxy and Armenian terrorism.
Organizations during the Erdogan era
The “Gray Wolves” have undergone a radical transformation in the years of the Erdogan era. Islamic and Eurasian constituents, present from the beginning, have ceased to be peripheral, becoming dominant in its ranks. Used to infiltrate the Turkish diaspora around the world, especially in Western Europe, the “Gray Wolves” have strong positions in Germany, France and Austria, where they are engaged in the constant search for new followers, in espionage against Kurdish militants and political opponents.
When necessary, they engage in punitive missions against the objectives set by MIT. Today, as in the past, the most experienced “Gray Wolves” fighters are sent to the battlefields. They have taken part in both wars in Nagorno-Karabakh to keep Northern Cyprus under occupation (their involvement in the brutal assassination of 24-year-old Tassos Isaac in 1997 is notorious), and most recently with the invasion of northern Syria.
Eurasian to some extent, the “Gray Wolves” remain an organization committed to an extremist concept of Pan-Turkism. So in the post-Cold War era,
they have established operational bases between the South Caucasus and Central Asia to promote the spread of Russophobic sentiments.
For example, after the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine, the Russian press denounced how this organization tried to establish contacts with Tatar rebels in Crimea. Historically linked to the Turkestan Independence Movement, the Gray Wolves are an ardent supporter of the cause. of Muslim Uighurs, which they have sponsored in the past through an infiltration into the Xinjiang region of Western China, and which they still support today through the activity of the World Uighur Congress, as they periodically harass Chinese tourists in Anatolia and abroad, or carrying out attacks, such as that of Bangkok in 2015.