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Grey Wolves

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].[10][11][12]
They are named after Asena, a legendary ancient female wolf that led captive Turks to freedom. 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 (who was, incidentally, a high school teacher of Alparslan Türkeş) and Italian fascist Giovanni Gentile's "Actual Idealism" theory as a pseudo-philosophical reference.
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 rightist 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.[15] 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[16] 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)[17] 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.[18] However, imprisoned Grey Wolves members were offered amnesty if they accepted to fight the Kurdish separatism and the PKK,[19] 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.[15] The fact that Counter-Guerrilla had engaged in torture was confirmed by Talat Turhan, a former Turkish colonel.[17]

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 brought in great numbers to resist a peaceful protest against the occupation of Cyprus by Greek Cypriot members of the Cypriot Motorcycle association. As a result, the violent beating perpetuated by members of the group Tasos Isaac was brutally murdered. The activities were captured.[22]
In December 1996, the Grey Wolves attacked left-wing students and teachers at Istanbul University, under police sanction.[23]
In 2004, the Grey Wolves prevented the screening of Atom Egoyan's Ararat in Turkey, a film about the Armenian Genocide.[24][25][26][27]
Since 2004 Grey Wolves and Islamist Nizam-ı Alem members waged a war against Christianity in Turkey. Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was also assassinated by a Grey Wolf sympathizer (Ogün Samast) at Istanbul in 2007. Another young Grey Wolf assassinated Father Andrea Santoro; a Catholic Priest; at Trabzon in 2006. A group of Grey Wolves conducted an inhuman torture and killing party; against Bible publishing firm members in Malatya, torturing and killing 3 innocent people.

Links to Operation Gladio

Numerous sources show that the MHP and the Grey Wolves had ties to the Turkish [url=]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,[15] 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.[17] 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, apart of 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 are believed to have provided support to Azeri forces fighting Armenians during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Grey Wolves Party still functions in Azerbaijan, although its name has been changed to the Azerbaijan National Democrat Party.[35][36]


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 Catli 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.[37]


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 activists.[38]

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.[dead link]
  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 on 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. ^ a b c 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 number needed]
  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ a b c Daniele Ganser (2005). NATO's Secret Armies, Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe. London: Franck Cass. ISBN 0714685003. [page number needed]
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ 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 on 2008-10-22.
  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 on 2008-08-28.
  22. ^ "Greece condemns Turkish barbarity". Cyprus News Agency. 1996-08-12. Retrieved on 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 on 2009-01-02.
  24. ^ "Egoyan award winning film not shown yet in Turkey". Toronto Star. Retrieved on 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 on 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 on 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. ^ Fuller, Liz (2003-06-23). "AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN GETS UNDER WAY". RFE/RL Caucasus Report (Radio Free Europe) 6 (23). Retrieved on 2008-08-27.
  36. ^ Fuller, Liz (2007-05-30). "Azerbaijan: Date For Presidential Ballot Confirmed". Radio Free Europe. Retrieved on 2008-08-27.
  37. ^ Komisar, Lucy. "The Assassins of a Pope". Retrieved on 2006-07-04.
  38. ^ "TURKISH AUTHORITIES INCITED BUFFER ZONE VIOLENCE". Cyprus Newsletter. EMBASSY OF CYPRUS, WASHINGTON DC. September 1, 1996. Retrieved on 2008-08-27.

External links

The Assassins of a Pope

by Lucy Komisar

Abdullah Catli, the fugitive who died in the Mercedes-Benz crash, was also connected to the man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca. Both were members of the Grey Wolves. Both had worked together in a previous assassination effort. In 1979, Ali Agca killed a Turkish newspaper editor. Catli was in on the plot. When the police arrest Agca, they found a false passport belonging to Catli.
Catli then reportedly helped organize Agca's escape from an Istanbul military prison, and some have suggested Catli was even involved in the Pope's assassination attempt.
The CIA said the assassination attempt was the work of the Soviets, through their Bulgarian allies. This has never been proven, and a much more plausible case can be made that it was a rightist plot. The Grey Wolves were clearly implicated, and they are directly related to the Turkish counterguerrilla force.
But why would a Turkish rightist squad have an interest in assassinating the Pope? The answer may lie with links between the "stay behind" organizations in various European countries, which all had a stake in blaming terrorism on the left.
Most is known about the Italian Gladio, Latin for sword, which worked with the Mafia and neofascists to prevent Italian communists from taking power through insurrection or the vote. Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti acknowledged the existence of the Gladio in testimony before an Italian parliamentary commission on August 2, 1990. He said Italy had used a "strategy of tension" to undercut the influence of the legal communist party.
That strategy was terrorism. The Gladio conducted bombings, and then blamed the bombings on the left. The assassination attempt on the Pope may have been part of this strategy of tension.
At the scene of the Mercedes-Benz crash, Turkish investigators found Catli with a fake passport. "The person on this photo, Mehmet Ozbay, works as a specialist for the police directorate and he is allowed to carry guns." Mehmet Ozbay was an alias -- the very same alias that Mehmet Ali Agca had on his own passport.
On the Trail of Turkey's Terrorist Grey Wolves

By Martin A. Lee

In broad daylight on May 2, 50 armed men set upon a television station in Istanbul with gunfire. The attackers unleashed a fusillade of bullets and shouted slogans supporting Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller.

The gunmen were outraged over the station's broadcast of a TV report critical of Ciller, a close U.S. ally who had come under criticism for stonewalling investigations into collusion between state security forces and Turkish criminal elements.

Miraculously, no one was injured in the attack, but the headquarters of Independent Flash TV were left pock-marked with bullet-holes and smashed windows. The gunfire also sent an unmistakable message to Turkish journalists and legislators: don't challenge Ciller and other high-level Turkish officials when they cover up state secrets.

For several months, Turkey had been awash in dramatic disclosures connecting high Turkish officials to the right-wing Grey Wolves, the terrorist band which has preyed on the region for years. In 1981, a terrorist from the Grey Wolves attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Vatican City.

But at the center of the mushrooming Turkish scandal is whether Turkey, a strategically placed NATO country, allowed mafiosi and right-wing extremists to operate death squads and to smuggle drugs with impunity. A Turkish parliamentary commission is investigating these new charges.

The rupture of state secrets in Turkey also could release clues to other major Cold War mysteries. Besides the attempted papal assassination, the Turkish disclosures could shed light on the collapse of the Vatican bank in 1982 and the operation of a clandestine pipeline that pumped sophisticated military hardware into the Middle East -- apparently from NATO stockpiles in Europe -- in exchange for heroin sold by the Mafia in the United States.

The official Turkish inquiry was triggered by what could have been the opening scene of a spy novel: a dramatic car crash on a remote highway near the village of Susurluk, 100 miles southwest of Istanbul. On Nov. 3, 1996, three people were crushed to death when their speeding black Mercedes hit a tractor and overturned. The crash killed Husseyin Kocadag, a top police official who commanded Turkish counter-insurgency units.

But it was Kocadag's company that stunned the nation. The two other dead were Abdullah Catli, a convicted fugitive who was wanted for drug trafficking and murder, and Catli's girlfriend, Gonca Us, a Turkish beauty queen turned mafia hit-woman. A fourth occupant, who survived the crash, was Kurdish warlord Sedat Bucak, whose militia had been armed and financed by the Turkish government to fight Kurdish separatists.

At first, Turkish officials claimed that the police were transporting two captured criminals. But evidence seized at the crash site indicated that Abdullah Catli, the fugitive gangster, had been given special diplomatic credentials by Turkish authorities. Catli was carrying a government-approved weapons permit and six ID cards, each with a different name. Catli also possessed several handguns, silencers and a cache of narcotics, not the picture of a subdued criminal.

When it became obvious that Catli was a police collaborator, not a captive, the Turkish Interior Minister resigned. Several high-ranking law enforcement officers, including Istanbul's police chief, were suspended. But the red-hot scandal soon threatened to jump that bureaucratic firebreak and endanger the careers of other senior government officials.

Grey Wolves Terror

The news of Catli's secret police ties were all the more scandalous given his well-known role as a key leader of the Grey Wolves, a neo-fascist terrorist group that has stalked Turkey since the late 1960s. A young tough who wore black leather pants and looked like Turkey's answer to Elvis Presley, Catli graduated from street gang violence to become a brutal enforcer for the Grey Wolves. He rose quickly within their ranks, emerging as second-in-command in 1978. That year, Turkish police linked him to the murder of seven trade-union activists and Catli went underground.

Three years later, the Grey Wolves gained international notoriety when Mehmet Ali Agca, one of Catli's closest collaborators, shot and nearly killed Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981. Catli was the leader of a fugitive terrorist cell that included Agca and a handful of other Turkish neo-fascists.

Testifying in September 1985 as a witness at the trial of three Bulgarians and four Turks charged with complicity in the papal shooting in Rome, Catli (who was not a defendant) disclosed that he gave Agca the pistol that wounded the pontiff. Catli had previously helped Agca escape from a Turkish jail, where Agca was serving time for killing a national newspaper editor. In addition to harboring Agca, Catli supplied him with fake IDs and directed Agca's movements in West Germany, Switzerland, and Austria for several months prior to the papal attack.

Catli enjoyed close links to Turkish drug mafiosi, too. His Grey Wolves henchmen worked as couriers for the Turkish mob boss Abuzer Ugurlu. At Ugurlu's behest, Catli's thugs criss-crossed the infamous smugglers' route passing through Bulgaria. Those routes were the ones favored by smugglers who reportedly carried NATO military equipment to the Middle East and returned with loads of heroin.

Judge Carlo Palermo, an Italian magistrate based in Trento, discovered these smuggling operations while investigating arms-and-drug trafficking from Eastern Europe to Sicily. Palermo disclosed that large quantities of sophisticated NATO weaponry -- including machine guns, Leopard tanks and U.S.-built Cobra assault helicopters -- were smuggled from Western Europe to countries in the Middle East during the 1970s and early 1980s.

According to Palermo's investigation, the weapon delivers were often made in exchange for consignments of heroin that filtered back, courtesy of the Grey Wolves and other smugglers, through Bulgaria to northern Italy. There, the drugs were received by Mafia middlemen and transported to North America. Turkish morphine base supplied much of the Sicilian-run "Pizza connection," which flooded the U.S. and Europe with high-grade heroin for several years.

[While it is still not clear how the NATO supplies entered the pipeline, other investigations have provided some clues. Witnesses in the October Surprise inquiry into an alleged Republican-Iranian hostage deal in 1980 claimed that they were allowed to select weapons from NATO stockpiles in Europe for shipment to Iran.

[Iranian arms dealer Houshang Lavi claimed that he selected spare parts for Hawk anti-aircraft batteries from NATO bases along the Belgian-German border. Another witness, American arms broker William Herrmann, corroborated Lavi's account of NATO supplies going to Iran.

[Even former NATO commander Alexander Haig confirmed that NATO supplies could have gone to Iran in the early 1980s while he was secretary of state. "It wouldn't be preposterous if a nation, Germany, for example, decided to let some of their NATO stockpiles be diverted to Iran," Haig said in an interview. For more details, see Robert Parry's Trick or Treason. ]

A Vatican Mystery

Italian magistrates described the network they had uncovered as the "world's biggest illegal arms trafficking organization." They linked it to Middle Eastern drug empires and to prestigious banking circles in Italy and Europe. At the center of this operation, it appeared, was an obscure import-export firm in Milan called Stibam International Transport. The head of Stibam, a Syrian businessman named Henri Arsan, also functioned as an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to several Italian news outlets.

With satellite offices in New York, London, Zurich, and Sofia, Bulgaria, Stibam officials recycled their profits through Banco Ambrosiano, Italy's largest private bank which had close ties to the Vatican until its sensational collapse in 1982. The collapse of Banco Ambrosiano came on the heels of the still unsolved death of its furtive president, Roberto Calvi, whose body was found hanging underneath Blackfriar's Bridge in London in June 1982. While running Ambrosiano, Calvi, nicknamed "God's banker," served as advisor to the Vatican's extensive fiscal portfolio.

At the same time in the mid- and late 1970s, Calvi's bank handled most of Stibam's foreign currency transactions and owned the building that housed Stibam's Milanese headquarters. In effect, the Vatican Bank -- by virtue of its interlocking relationship with Banco Ambrosiano -- was fronting for a gigantic contraband operation that specialized in guns and heroin.

The bristling contraband operation that traversed Bulgaria was a magnet for secret service agents on both sides of the Cold War divide. Crucial, in this regard, was the role of Kintex, a Sofia-based, state-controlled import-export firm that worked in tandem with Stibam and figured prominently in the arms trade. Kintex was riddled with Bulgarian and Soviet spies -- a fact which encouraged speculation that the KGB and its Bulgarian proxies were behind the plot against the pope.

But Western intelligence also had its hooks into the Bulgarian smuggling scene, as evidenced by the CIA's use of Kintex to channel weapons to the Nicaraguan contras in the early 1980s.

The Reagan administration jumped on the papal assassination attempt as a propaganda opportunity, rather than helping to unravel the larger mystery. Although the CIA's link to the arms-for-drugs traffic in Bulgaria was widely known in espionage circles, hard-line U.S. and Western European officials promoted instead a bogus conspiracy theory that blamed the papal shooting on a communist plot.

The so-called "Bulgarian connection" became one of the more effective disinformation schemes hatched during the Reagan era. It reinforced the notion of the Soviet Union as an evil empire. But the apparent hoax also diverted attention from extensive -- and potentially embarrassing -- ties between U.S. intelligence and the Turkey's narco-trafficking ultra-right.

Fabrication of the conspiracy theory might have even involved suborning perjury. During his September 1985 court testimony in Rome, Catli asserted that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which allegedly promised him a large sum of money if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the pope's life.

Five years later, ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. "The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot," Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Friends of the Wolves

Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, the CIA station chief in Rome at the time of the papal shooting, had previously been posted in Ankara. Clarridge was the CIA's man-on-the-spot in Turkey in the 1970s when armed bands of Grey Wolves unleashed a wave of bomb attacks and shootings that killed thousands of people, including public officials, journalists, students, lawyers, labor organizers, social democrats, left-wing activists and ethnic Kurds. [In his 1997 memoirs, A Spy for All Seasons, Clarridge makes no reference to the Turkish unrest or to the pope shooting.]

During those violent 1970s, the Grey Wolves operated with the encouragement and protection of the Counter-Guerrilla Organization, a section of the Turkish Army's Special Warfare Department. Headquartered in the U.S. Military Aid Mission building in Ankara, the Special Warfare Department received funds and training from U.S. advisors to create "stay behind" squads comprised of civilian irregulars. They were supposed to go underground and engage in acts of sabotage if the Soviets invaded.

Similar Cold War paramilitary units were established in every NATO member state, covering all non-Communist Europe like a spider web that would entangle Soviet invaders. But instead of preparing for foreign enemies, U.S.-sponsored stay-behind operatives in Turkey and several European countries used their skills to attack domestic opponents and foment violent disorders. Some of those attacks were intended to spark right-wing military coups.

In the late 1970s, former military prosecutor and Turkish Supreme Court Justice Emin Deger documented collaboration between the Grey Wolves and the government's counter-guerrilla forces as well as the close ties of the latter to the CIA. Turkey's Counter-Guerrilla Organization handed out weapons to the Grey Wolves and other right-wing terrorist groups. These shadowy operations mainly engaged in the surveillance, persecution and torture of Turkish leftists, according to retired army commander Talat Turhan, the author of three books on counter-guerrilla activities in Turkey.

But the extremists launched one wave of political violence which provoked a 1980 coup by state security forces that deposed Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. The Turkish security forces cited the need to restore order which had been shattered by rightist terrorist groups secretly sponsored by those same state security forces.

Cold War Roots

Since the earliest days of the Cold War, Turkey's strategic importance derived from its geographic position as the West's easternmost bulwark against Soviet communism. In an effort to weaken the Soviet state, the CIA also used pan-Turkish militants to incite anti-Soviet passions among Muslim Turkish minorities inside the Soviet Union, a strategy that strengthened ties between U.S. intelligence and Turkey's ultra-nationalists.

Though many of Turkish ultra-nationalists were anti-Western as well as anti-Soviet, the Cold War realpolitik compelled them to support a discrete alliance with NATO and U.S. intelligence. Among the Turkish extremists collaborating in this anti-Soviet strategy were the National Action Party and its paramilitary youth group, the Grey Wolves.

Led by Colonel Alpaslan Turkes, the National Action Party espoused a fanatical pan-Turkish ideology that called for reclaiming large sections of the Soviet Union under the flag of a reborn Turkish empire. Turkes and his revanchist cohorts had been enthusiastic supporters of Hitler during World War II. "The Turkish race above all others" was their Nazi-like credo. In a similar vein, Grey Wolf literature warned of a vast Jewish-Masonic-Communist conspiracy and its newspapers carried ads for Turkish translations of Nazi texts.

The pan-Turkish dream and its anti-Soviet component also fueled ties between the Grey Wolves and the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), a CIA-backed coalition led by erstwhile fascist collaborators from East Europe. Ruzi Nazar, a leading figure in the Munich-based ABN, had a long-standing relationship with the CIA and the Turkish ultra-nationalists. In the 1950s and 1960s, Nazar was employed by Radio Free Europe, a CIA-founded propaganda effort.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the shifting geopolitical terrain created new opportunities -- political and financial -- for Colonel Turkes and his pan-Turkish crusaders. After serving a truncated prison term in the 1980s for his role in masterminding the political violence that convulsed Turkey, Turkes and several of his pan-Turkish colleagues were permitted to resume their political activities.

In 1992, the colonel visited his long lost Turkish brothers in newly independent Azerbaijan and received a hero's welcome. In Baku, Turkes endorsed the candidacy of Grey Wolf sympathizer Abulfex Elcibey, who was subsequently elected president of Azerbaijan and appointed a close Grey Wolf ally as his Interior Minister.

The Gang Returns

By this time, Abdullah Catli was also back in circulation after several years of incarceration in France and Switzerland for heroin trafficking. In 1990, he escaped from a Swiss jail cell and rejoined the neo-fascist underground in Turkey.

Despite his documented links to the papal shooting and other terrorist attacks, Catli was pressed into service as a death squad organizer for the Turkish government's dirty war against the Kurds who have long struggled for independence inside both Turkey and Iraq. Turkish Army spokesmen acknowledged that the Counter-Guerrilla Organization (renamed the Special Forces Command in 1992) was involved in the escalating anti-Kurdish campaign.

Turkey got a wink and a nod from Washington as a quid pro quo for cooperating with the United States during the Gulf War. Turkish jets bombed Kurdish bases inside Iraqi territory. Meanwhile, on the ground, anti-Kurdish death squads were assassinating more than 1,000 non-combatants in southeastern Turkey. Hundreds of other Kurds "disappeared" while in police custody. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the European Parliament all condemned the Turkish security forces for these abuses.

Still, there was no hard evidence that Turkey's security forces had recruited criminal elements as foot soldiers. That evidence surfaced only on Nov. 3, 1996, when Catli' died in the fateful auto accident near Susurluk. Strewn amidst the roadside wreckage was proof of what many journalists and human rights activists had long suspected -- that successive Turkish governments had protected narco-traffickers, sheltered terrorists and sponsored gangs of killers to suppress Turkish dissidents and Kurdish rebels.

Colonel Turkes confirmed that Catli had performed clandestine duties for Turkey's police and military. "On the basis of my state experience, I admit that Catli has been used by the state," said Turkes. Catli had been cooperating "in the framework of a secret service working for the good of the state," Turkes insisted.

U.S.-backed Turkish officials, including Tansu Ciller, Prime Minister from 1993-1996, also defended Catli after the car crash. "I don't know whether he is guilty or not," Ciller stated, "but we will always respectfully remember those who fire bullets or suffer wounds in the name of this country, this nation and this state."

Eighty members of the Turkish parliament have urged the federal prosecutor to file charges of criminal misconduct against Ciller, who currently serves as Turkey's Foreign Minister, as well as Deputy Prime Minister. They asserted that the Susurluk incident provided Turkey "with a historic opportunity to expose unsolved murders and the drugs and arms smuggling that have been going on in our country for years."

The scandal momentarily reinvigorated the Turkish press, which unearthed revelations about criminals and police officials involved in the heroin trade. But journalists also have been victims of death squads in recent years. The violent attack on Independent Flash TV was a reminder. Prosecutors have faced pressure, too, from superiors who are not eager to delve into state secrets. Thus far, no charges have been lodged against Ciller.

Across the Atlantic in Washington, the U.S. government has yet to acknowledge any responsibility for the Turkish Frankenstein that U.S. Cold War strategy helped to create. When asked about the Susurluk affair, a State Department spokesperson said it was "an internal Turkish matter." He declined further comment. ~

Martin A. Lee's book on neo-fascism, The Beast Reawakens, will be published by Little, Brown in July.

The CIA and the Gray Wolves
The 'Captive Turks' provided a target of opportunity for U.S. intelligence in the post-World War II years similar to the Byelorussians, Ukranians, and others who joined forces with the Nazis against the Soviet Union and later enlisted in the shadowy East Europian networks of the CIA. That is, there is no reason to suppose that the U.S. motivations and practices toward pro-Nazi East Europeans that have recently been exposed by John Loftus in The Belarus Secret were not also operative in the U.S. approach to the tattered remnants of those units of Soviet Turks which had fought alongside the Germans against the Soviet Union.
A tantalizing link has been discovered by Turkish journalist Ugur Mumcu, who has exposed the CIA ties of Ruzi Nazar, a Turcoman who was born near Tashkent in the Soviet Union and deserted the Red Army to join the Nazis during World War II. After the war Nazar was recruited by the CIA; and according to Mumcu, he 'was successful in penetrating Turkish fascist circles in the days when Agca worked as a hired gun' for the NAP. In the 1950s Nazar was a part-time contributor to the Voice of America, and it was perhaps through this work that he met Paul Henze, who was then working for Radio Free Europe. Nazar apparently joined Henze when the latter was sent by the CIA to the U.S. Embassy in Turkey in 1959. But by the time that Henze had become Chief of Station in 1974, Nazar's cover had been blown and his usefulness in Turkey had come to an end. Nazar was then transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Bonn where, according to Mumcu, his assignment was to penetrate Gray Wolves organizations for the CIA, while maintaining his close ties to Col. Türkes. (1)
Whether the CIA had extensive ties with the Gray Wolves is an open question. The most likely avenue linking the CIA to the Turkish right runs through Turkey's Counter-Guerrilla organization, a branch of the Turkish General Staff's Department of Special Warfare created sometime in the 1960s. According to former Turkish military prosecutor and Supreme court Justice Emin Deger, there was a close, working collaboration between the NAP armed commandos, or Bozkurts, and the Counter-Guerrilla units. There was also a close tie between the Counter-Guerrilla and the CIA. In his book, CIA, Counter-Guerrilla, and Turkey, Deger further charged that the CIA, acting through the Turkish intelligence agency (MIT) and the Counter-Guerrilla, promoted rightwing terrorist actions to destabilize the Turkish government and prepare the way for the military coup of 1971. (2)
Another study of Turkey's Counter-Guerrilla notes that it was headquartered in the same Ankara building that housed the U.S. military mission, and that the training of officers assigned to this unit 'begins in the U.S. and then continues inside Turkey under the direction of CIA officers and military "advisers".' During the 1960s, according to the same study, the CIA assisted the MIT in drawing up plans for the mass arrest of opposition figures; and the study claims that this plan was put into operation following the 1971 coup. (3)
We have noted the contradiction between the Soviet Union's alleged motive for assassinating the Pope and the highly negative effect of the actual assassination attempt on Soviet interests. Turkish 'destabilization' presents another curious contradiction between motives and actions, on the one hand, and the results and the distribution of benefits on the other. Thus is it an act of faith of the Sterling-Henze school that the Soviet Union was trying to destabilize Turkey in the 1960s and 1970's. But once again the actual results of destabilization have turned out to be detrimental to Soviet interests and favorable to those of the United States. Given the weakness of the left in Turkey, the actual outcome would seem obvious and should have been seen as obvious to the Soviet leadership. One possibility is that Soviet leaders are completely incompetent and fail to see the obvious. The other possibility is that the claim of Soviet efforts to destabilize Turkey is a big lie, perpetrated by disinformation specialists of the West to discredit the enemy and possibly to cover over the destabilization efforts of the United Stats and its friends.
1): Mumcu was interviewed ans some of his work summarized in the Atlanta Constitution, January 30, 1983. Mumcu claims to have seen a letter from a leader of the NAP in West Germany to Türkes about Nazar's influence in rightwing Turkish student groups there, and Mumcu also claims to have received information about Nazar's CIA links from a Turkish general who maintained close ties with Nazar.
2): Cited in S. Benhabib, 'Right-Wing Groups Behind Political Violence in Turkey,' MERIP Reports, No. 77 (May 1979), p. 17.
3): Jurgen Roth and Kamil Taylan, Die Turkei - Republik Unter Wolfen (Turkey: A Republic Ruled by Wolves), (Bornheim, West Germany, 1981). Excerpts from this study were translated in CounterSpy, Vol. VI, No. 2 (February- April 1982), pp. 23 and 25.

(from: Brodhead, Frank, Howard Friel, Edward S. Herman, Darkness in Rome, The 'bulgarian connection' revisited, Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 23, spring 1985, p. 15)

Excerpt from: International Round-Up, Searchlight, No. 75, September 1981
'Legion' ex-member'
The same letter reveals that also assisting the Wolves was an ex-member of the Turkistan Legion of the SS:
"From the information I received from Dr Kangerli, the Employment Secretary of the Embassy of FRG, Dr Mehmet Kengunli is from Azerbaijan. He was captured by the Germans in 1940. Then he served in the Turkistan Legion (despite the fact that he was from Azerbaijan). He was an SS officer during the war. He was a lieutenant colonel when the war ended. He has great sympathy towards us and never refuses anything we ask. He deals with the slightest problems of our idealist friends. He made positive approaches for us to DGB but he, could not succeed. The diplomats are working against us. Kengerli's work is being hampered by them… The report, copies of which are enclosed, was obtained from a fellow race member from Turkistan who is now employed by a foreign service. We could not get it from Dr Kannapin since he was on holiday. I learned from him however, of the existence of a report which speaks well of us, which was presented to the German authorities. That is, these documents are authentic…"

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A Grey Wolves cell was almost certainly responsible for the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981.

However, this begs the question of why?

The Grey Wolves was, in large part, a Gladio operation.

The Polish Pope was highly active in inspiring and mobilizing the Catholic masses of Eastern Europe to rise up against Soviet communism.

Surely the overthrow of the USSR was a fundamental aim of Gladio, and John Paul II was therefore acting entirely in the interests of Gladio?

So, why then would Gladio operatives seek to assassinate JPII?

There is always the possibility of a small, highly compartmentalized, cell going rogue.

However, it's intriguing that Reagan and his propagandists immediately tried to lay the blame for the assassination attempt on the Soviet Union. Just as certain (possibly complicit) elements initially tried to use the murder of JFK to launch an attack on Cuba.

If the Pope had died, popular anger in Eastern Europe, and especially Poland, would have reached feverish heights. Soviet forces would have been kicked out - perhaps even earlier than they actually were.

At the deep black level, the public slaughter of a popular leader is a highly charged and potent act. It reverberates.

Those ostensibly in charge today should understand that their very public prominence makes them potential human sacrifices to deep black agendas.
I agree Jan. Their finger prints were all over it. But initially all attention was directed to the Bulgarians if you recall. One can draw parallels with the Cuban patsy in the JFK case. I suppose they had gotten away with so much before this one that they had every confidence it may succeed. No one has ever been brought to book on it except for the technician Mehmet Ali Ağca.
Magda Hassan Wrote:I agree Jan. Their finger prints were all over it. But initially all attention was directed to the Bulgarians if you recall.

Yes - blaming the Bulgarians was part of the attempt to lay the blame on the Evil (Soviet) Empire.

However, if we assume it was a Gladio/Grey Wolves plot, then my musings above - exploring why Gladio might have sought to assassinate a highly influential opponent of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe - are pertinent.
There is always the possibility of splits with in the right. Pope John Paul may have been very anti-communist but he was not a nazi sympathiser and was not anti semitic. Maybe he was still thought too left wing for some.
Magda Hassan Wrote:There is always the possibility of splits with in the right. Pope John Paul may have been very anti-communist but he was not a nazi sympathiser and was not anti semitic. Maybe he was still thought too left wing for some.

For what it is worth the next assassination attempt on his life took place almost a year to the day after the Mehmet Ali Ağca attempt and was done by a disgruntled priest who thought JP2 was an agent of communism and the eastern block. However there is the possibility there was mental illness as he left the priesthood and went on to become a solicitor in Belgium. Big Grin

Quote:From Wikipedia: The assailant, a right wing Spanish priest named Juan María Fernández y Krohn,[112] was ordained as a priest by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of the Society of Saint Pius X and was opposed to the changes caused by the Second Vatican Council, calling the pope an agent of Communist Moscow and of the Marxist Eastern Bloc.[115] Fernández y Krohn subsequently left the Roman Catholic priesthood and served three years of a six-year sentence.[113][114][115] The ‘ex-priest’ was treated for mental illness and then expelled from Portugal, going on to become a solicitor in Belgium.[115] He was arrested again in July 2000 after climbing over a security barricade at the Royal Palace of Brussels, intent on killing either Belgian King Albert II or the visiting Spanish King Juan Carlos.
There are also religious divisions to consider. Not all the right wing nuts like the Catholic church either.