Grey Wolves (Organization)

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The Grey Wolves (also known as Ülkü Ocakları) is a Turkish Islamist, fascist[1][2] and neo-Nazi organization.[3] The Grey Wolves has been designated as a terrorist organization by France.[4] Turkish dictator Erdoğan and an Azerbaijani military general have made the hand sign of the Grey Wolves.[5][6]


The Grey Wolves was formed in the 1960s by former Turkish Army colonel, Alparslan Türkeş, who was an open admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi ideology.[7] Joshua D. Hendrick has compared the organization to the Nazi Schutzstaffel. [8]

International Presence

The Grey Wolves operates in numerous different countries such as Azerbaijan, Syria, Russia, Thailand, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and the U.S.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]


On April 23, 2015, the U.S branch of the Grey Wolves held an event at which children wearing military camouflage colored pants and t-shirts marched and did pushups.[17] Members of the Grey Wolves participated in the 2016 Turkish Day parade in New York City.[18]


The Grey Wolves have been heavily involved in fighting alongside Al-Qaeda and the Turkish military in the Syrian Civil War.[19] A Turkish Grey Wolves member in Syria was photographed giving the groups' fascist salute while holding the cut off head of a Syrian soldier.[20] According to Egypt Today, the National intelligence Organization of Turkey "is believed to be recruiting retired military personnel to provide support for armed groups operating in Syria, through the Grey Wolves Brigade".[21] Alparslan Celik, a Grey Wolves member killed Russian Air Force pilot Oleg Peshkov after his plane was shot down by the Turkish Air Force.[22] An Egyptian news site Youm7, picked up a document allegedly issued by Jaish-al-Fatah, which claimed that it conspired with the Grey Wolves in the December 2016 assassination of Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey.[23]


In May 1984, Grey Wolves leader Abdullah Catli ordered the bombing of an Armenian genocide memorial in a Paris suburb. [24] According to the French government, members of the Grey Wolves took part in a January 21, 2012 demonstration in Paris against the adoption of a bill criminalizing Armenian genocide denial in France.[25] In November 2020, France banned the Grey Wolves after the defacement of an Armenian Genocide memorial, the organizing of combat training camps in the Ardeche region and inciting violence against Kurds and Armenians.[26]

The Netherlands

Organizations such as Turkish Federation Netherlands and Turkish Islamic Federation have links to the Grey Wolves.[27] Grey Wolves activists have participated in local Dutch politics with varying successes.[28]


Thousands of Turkish Grey Wolves members fought alongside Al-Qaeda terrorists in the Chechen Wars.[29][30] Grey Wolves media outlets also yearly commemorate the death anniversary of Chechen Muslim terrorist Shamil Basayev. [31][32]


On September 13, 2015, there was an explosion at a Kurdish civil center in Stockholm, Sweden, after clashes between Turks and Kurds at a Grey Wolves rally.[33] In April 2016, images came out which showed Swedish housing minister Mehmet Kaplan having dinner with leaders of the Grey Wolves. [34] Kaplan resigned after the release of a 2009 video in which he compared Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to that of the Jews by Nazi Germany. [35]


In a 2017 article published by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, the Grey Wolves have an estimated 18,000 members in Germany alone.[36] Additionally, Grey Wolves members have engaged in violence against Kurds and Armenians in Germany. [37]


In January 2020, 4 Turkish bus drivers were fired in Vienna for making the Grey Wolves sign. [38] On June 26, 2020, Turkish Grey Wolves members attacked Kurdish rallies in Vienna protesting Turkey's military operation in Iraqi Kurdistan.[39]

Assassination Attempt on the Pope

Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish Muslim who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in May 1981, was a known member of the Grey Wolves.[40] it is alleged that the head of the Grey Wolves, Abdullah Catli, had organized the assassination "in exchange for the sum of 3 million German Marks".[41]

Anti-Armenian hate and violence

In January 2004, the Grey Wolves blocked the screening of "Ararat", a movie about the Armenian Genocide, in Turkey.[42][43] On April 24, 2011, Sevag Balıkçı, a Turkish soldier of Armenian descent was killed by Turkish Grey Wolves member Kıvanç Ağaoğlu.[44]

During the 2020 Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, there were widespread attacks on Armenians in France by Grey Wolves members.[45][46]

On April 24, 2022, the Turkish foreign minister to Uruguay, Mevlut Cavusoglu taunted Armenian Genocide demonstrators with the hand sign of the Grey Wolves.[47]

Anti-Greek violence

The Grey Wolves routinely protest outside the Greek Orthodox Church's headquarters in Constantinople and burn effigies of the Church's patriarch. [48] In January 2022, the Grey Wolves leader made threats against Greece stating that, "The Aegean will either be a sea of ​​peace or the Turkish nation knows how to sign another victory with its blood and soul. Greece must return to the law of good neighbourliness while there is still time”.[49] Additionally, he said that, “The steel will of the Turk will be enough to burn the rival centres and harvest them like a crop, in the air, on land or at sea".

Other Incidents of Violence

In late November 2006, the Grey Wolves staged protests against Pope Benedict XVI visit to Turkey.[50] On November 22, 2006, Grey Wolves protesters occupied the Haghia Sophia to perform Muslim prayers. They chanted slogans against the Pope such as, "Don't make a mistake Pope, don't try our patience."[51]

In July 2014, around a thousand people demonstrated in Kahramanmaras against the presence of Syrian refugees who fled the Syrian civil war. Many protesters made the sign of the Grey Wolves, blocked roads to the city, and removed Arabic language signs from stores. [52] Some of the protesters also attacked a Syrian in a car, breaking the windows of the vehicle.

See also


  1. Taspinar, Omer (2005). "The Kurdish Question in Turkish Politics". Kurdish Nationalism and Political Islam in Turkey: Kemalist Identity in Transition. Middle East Studies: History, Politics & Law. New York and London: Routledge. pp. 92–94. doi:10.4324/9780203327036. ISBN 9780415512848.
  2. Sullivan, Colleen (2011). "Grey Wolves". In Martin, Gus (ed.). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism (2nd ed.). Sage Publications. pp. 236–7.
  8. Hendrick, Joshua D. (2013). Gülen: The Ambiguous Politics of Market Islam in Turkey and the World. New York: New York University Press.
  9. Brzezinski, Zbigniew; Sullivan, Paige, eds. (1997). Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States: Documents, Data, and Analysis. Washington, D.C.: M. E. Sharpe. p. 616. ISBN 978-1-56324-637-1. 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.
  10. Ali, Kyamal (18 February 2014). "Серые волки" собрались на охоту. (in Russian). Azerbaijan News Network. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. В 1995 году Верховный суд ликвидировал регистрацию «Боз Гурд» в связи с названием организации, известной в мире как террористическая.
  11. Cherni︠a︡vskiĭ, Stanislav (2002). Новый путь Азербайджана [Azerbaijan's New Path]. Azer-Media: Moscow. p. 169. Партия «Боз гурд» («Серые волки») возникла в рядах НФ, организационно оформилась весной 1992 г. Партия считала себя филиалом турецкой экстремистской организации «Серые волки», которая была запрещена в Турции..."
  12. "Russian think tank labels Turkish far-right Grey Wolves as 'extremist' organisation". Ahval. August 18, 2020. Archived from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  13. Maguid, Mohamed Abdel (11 May 2017). "Grey Wolves, Turkey's armed proxy in Syria". Egypt Today. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020.
  24. Grosscup, Beau (1991). The new explosion of terrorism. Far Hills, NJ: New Horizon Pr. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-88282-074-3.
  27. Avcı, Gamze (2004). "Religion, Transnationalism and Turks in Europe". In Çarkoğlu, Ali; Rubin, Barry (eds.). Turkey and the European Union: Domestic Politics, Economic Integration and International Dynamics. Routledge. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-135-76120-2.
  29. Cooley, John K. (2002). Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism (3rd ed.). London: Pluto Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-7453-1917-
  30. Goltz, Thomas (2003). Chechnya Diary: A War Correspondent's Story of Surviving the War in Chechnya. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-312-26874-9.
  42. "'Ararat'ın ertelenmesine Egoyan'dan tepki". Radikal (in Turkish). 7 January 2004. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014.
  48. Alexopoulos, Dimitris (28 October 2005). "By the Grey Wolves Tension at the Patriarchate". Hellenic Radio.