Nicosia: Last week US Representative (D. Nevada) Dina Titus proposed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defence Authorization Act to ban the Turkish ultranationalist group known as the Grey Wolves.
She also asked US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to report to the Congress within 180 days on the activities of the Grey Wolves – described by some as a paramilitary death squad- "including a review of the criteria met for designation as a foreign terrorist organisationorganisation."
France has already banned the far-right Group after its members desecrated a memorial for the victims of the Armenian Genocide near Lyon and scuffled with Armenian protesters.
Last October, French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin announced that the Grey Wolves Group had been banned in France, saying it "incites discrimination and hatred and is implicated in violent actions."
The Turkish Foreign Ministry immediately responded, calling the move "disgraceful," without actually acknowledging that the Grey Wolves existed.
In March 2019, Austria also banned the "Wolf Salute" in the same list of signs belonging to organisations as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Hamas. The movement's salutation involves the fingers of the right hand with an outstretched arm to form a wolf's head.
In November, the German Bundestag adopted a motion that urged the government to outlaw the group's affiliates, prevents its online agitation and monitor its activities.
The Grey Wolves Group (GWG), founded in the 1960s by Colonel Alparslan Turkes, is an Islamist and neo-fascist organisation affiliated with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Grey Wolves (known in Turkey as Bozkurtlar & Ulku Ocaklari) are a Pan-Turkic organisation, the idea of which is to unite the Turkic peoples in one state stretching from the Balkans to Central Asia. The GWG was named after a Turkish legend according to which a wolf in pre-Islamic times led and saved the endangered Turkish tribes from the Altay Mountains in Central Asia.
The GWG has long been a prominent suspect in investigations into the Turkish "deep state" and is suspected of having had close dealings in the past with the Counter-Guerrilla, the Turkish branch of the NATO Operation Gladio, as well as the Turkish mafia.
The organisation became a death squad engaged in gun battles, street killings and violence directed against either the political left or ethnic minorities: Kurds, Greeks, and Armenians. Many Grey Wolves volunteered to fight Armenians during the first Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-94) and were responsible for some of the worst atrocities perpetrated against Armenian civilians and prisoners.
Grey Wolves in December 1978 were responsible for the Maras massacre when over 100 Alevis were killed and the Taksim Square massacre on the 1ST of May 1977. During this violent period, Grey Wolves operated with the encouragement and the protection of the Turkish Army's Special Warfare Department.
One of Grey Wolves' most notorious members is Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish assassin who killed in 1979 Abdi Ipekci, one of Turkey's most respected journalists. On May 13 1981, Agca, after escaping from a Turkish prison, shot and wounded Pope John Paul II.
In the wake of the 1980 coup in Turkey, the Grey Wolves focused their attacks against Kurds in Turkey and vociferously supported Ankara's occupation of part of Cyprus and Rauf Denktash, self-proclaimed President of the occupied part of Cyprus.
In 1996 they murdered Kutlu Adali, a Turkish Cypriot journalist who had criticised Denktash's policies and beaten to death Tassos Isaak, a Greek Cypriot protester in the United Nations Buffer Zone. In recent decades, the MHP has aligned with and allied itself to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's autocratic ruler.
While MHP poses as a conservative party, in actual fact is a far-right party, which pushes Erdogan to an extremely nationalistic and expansionist path.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan benefits from the activities of the Grey Wolves in terrorising Kurds, Armenians and members of opposition parties in Turkey and in rallying together Turks living in Germany to vote for his AKP party. Erdogan has embraced the main causes of the Grey Wolves and has given them hundreds of jobs amid the mass purges he made following the failed coup attempt in 2016.
Since his collaboration with the nationalist MHP, Erdogan has been using the Grey Wolves as his long arm in European states and countries where there is a sizeable Turkic population to support his policies.
In the European Parliament, a progress report on Turkey, prepared by Spanish Socialist Nacho Sanchez Amor, suggested putting Turkey's Grey Wolves on the EU terrorist list. The Parliament called on the European Council, the decision-making body of the Union, and the member states to "examine the possibility of adding Grey Wolves to the EU terrorist list."
The report, which passed with 480 votes in favour and 64 against at the plenary on May 19, underlines that the Grey Wolves Group is "especially threatening for people with a Kurdish, Armenian or Greek background and anyone they consider an opponent."
Of course, it is not at all certain that the EU Council will proceed to ban the Gray Wolves Group, as it may not want to anger Erdogan, who blackmails Europe by opening the floodgates of refugees temporarily living in Turkey.
However, it should act now to stop a very dangerous group that could destabilise several European countries. Professor Fawzi Al Ghazali of the Trends Research Center points out: "The provocations and actions of the GWG in Europe and elsewhere do not reflect any of the true virtues of peace, tolerance and coexistence of Islam.
Rather, they intensify Islamophobia, which has become a major issue for the European public and its policymakers. The risk is that the GWG will further incite Muslims and allied extremist groups within France and other European countries with the aim of destabilising these states."