Kurdish Hezbollah

Far-right Kurdish nationalist and Islamist group in Turkey
Kurdish Hezbollah
Kurmanji Kurdish: Hizbullahî Kurdî
Green Shahada.png
LeadersHüseyin Velioğlu 
İsa Altsoy[1]
Dates of operation1983[2] – present
Active regionsTurkey
IdeologyKurdish Islamism
Social conservatism
National conservatism
Political positionFar-right
Allies Iran (alleged by Turkey)
Opponents Turkey
Grey Wolves
Village Guards
Designated as a terrorist group by Turkey[3]

Kurdish Hezbollah (Kurdish: Hizbullahî Kurdî)[1][4][5] known in Turkey as Hizbullah,[6] and known among Kurds as Sofîk[7] is a Kurdish Sunni Islamist militant organization,[8][9][5][10] active against Turkey,[11][12][13] and the PKK (mainly in the period between 1992 and 1995).[9]

The group, founded by Kurdish-Turkish Islamist Hüseyin Velioğlu, remains a primarily Kurdish group that has its roots in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of Turkey and among Kurds who migrated to the cities in Western Turkey.[14] The Hezbollah reestablished in 2003 in southeastern Turkey and "today its ideology might be more widespread then ever among Kurds there".[15] Turkish Hezbollah's influence was not limited to Turkey and it has also "left an imprint on Turkish Kurds in Germany."[8]

Despite similar names, Kurdish Hezbollah has no relationship whatsoever with the Kurdish Revolutionary Hezbollah or the Kurdish Hezbollah of Iran.


In the 1970s various Kurdish Islamists sought to work through democratic means to develop Islamism in Turkey. It initially remained a Kurdish group that had its roots in the southeast of Turkey, and Kurdish Islamists who migrated to the prosperous cities in Western Turkey. The group utilized poor economical situations of the Kurdish population and had built its social bases in their areas. Many joined the National Turkish Student Association (Milli Türk Talebe Birliği, MTTB), the youth organization of the National Salvation Party.[1] With the closure of these after the 1980 Turkish coup d'état, it appeared clear that the military was too strongly dedicated to secularism for the democratic route to be an option, and a group of Islamists launched the Union Movement (Vahdet Hareketi).[1] The movement organised around two bookshops in Diyarbakır – Fidan Gündör's Menzil and Hüseyin Velioğlu's İlim. Until 1987 the groups gathered around these bookshops worked together.[16][17][14][15] According to the Guido Steinberh, the Turkish government cooperated with the group against the PKK and it's believed that Kurdish Hezbollah's influence was not limited to Turkey and it has also left an imprint on some Kurds who had migrated to Germany.[8]

In 1987, when Hüseyin Velioğlu moved his bookshop to Batman, different opinions on leadership and armed actions resulted in the split of the two wings.[18] The so-called İlim-wing, under the leadership of Hüseyin Velioğlu insisted to start the armed struggle immediately. The dispute resulted in bloody fighting between the two factions.[19] Between 1990 and 1993, the İlim group killed many members of the Menzil group, and ultimately emerged victorious.[1] In 1993 the İlim group took the name Hizbullah.[1]


The group which became known as Hizbollah took this name in 1993, after emerging victorious from a bloody factional war between two wings of the Union Movement (Vahdet Hareketi) which had been established following the 1980 Turkish coup d'état's crushing of Islamist hopes for democratic success. Hüseyin Velioğlu's group had previously been known as İlim, named for his bookshop.[1] In March of the same year, soon after Abdullah Öcalan was expelled from Syria, there were reports of an Iranian-brokered peace accord between KH and PKK.[20]

According to Turkish security officials, Hezbollah was financed by and trained in post-revolutionary Iran, with Iran allegedly using terror groups to establish Islamic governments throughout the Middle East.[21][22][23]

Further groups within Hezbollah were named as Tevhid, led by Nurettin Şirin and Mehmet Şahin and Yeryüzü, led by Burhan Kavuncu.[24] Besides the town of Batman, Hezbollah was strongest in Cizre district of Şırnak, Nusaybin district of Mardin and Silvan district of Diyarbakır province. For a long time the village Yolaç was used as their base.[18]

In the early 1990s the organization became a direct threat to the already rising Kurdish separatist movement. The Hezbollah viewed the "PKK's claim to be the only true spokesman of Kurdish nationalism" as a "threat to its own identity",[9] and dubbed the PKK as the "Partiya Kafirin Kurdistan" meaning Kurdistans Infidels' Party.[25] As an Islamist organization, KH began as an oppositional force against the PKK, but have targeted both PKK militants and other people they considered "immoral" (people who drank alcohol, wore mini-skirts etc.).[26] Between 1992 and 1995 they killed around 500 PKK members, for the loss of around 200 of its own.[1]

In 2007, after the Assassination of Hrant Dink, his friend Orhan Alkaya suggested that the three-shot assassination technique was a signature mark of the Kurdish Hezbollah.[27]

KH also targeted journalists who wrote about its activities, particularly those who wrote about connections between them and the Turkish state. It was believed that the group gets support from Turkish army for its conflict against the PKK. Journalists, mainly Kurds, associated with 2000'e Doğru and Özgür Gündem were particularly targeted (see List of journalists killed in Turkey).[28]

Some of KH's major attacks allegedly include an April 1999 suicide bombing in Bingöl, and the February 2001 assassination of Diyarbakir police chief Gaffar Okkan (and five other police).[29]

Turkish military support

The weekly 2000'e Doğru of 16 February 1992 reported that eyewitnesses and sympathizers of Hezbollah had informed them that members of the organization were educated in the headquarters of Turkey's rapid deployment force (Çevik Kuvvet) in Diyarbakır. Two days after the article was published its author, Halit Güngen was killed by unidentified murderers.[19] Namik Taranci, the Diyarbakir representative of the weekly journal Gerçek (Reality), was shot dead on November 20, 1992 on his way to work in Diyarbakır. Again, the previous edition of the magazine had examined relations between the state and Hizbullah. Hafiz Akdemir, reporter for Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda), was shot dead in a Diyarbakır street on June 8, 1992, after reporting that a man who had given refuge to assassins fleeing a Hezbollah-style double killing in Silvan was released after only six weeks in custody, without even appearing in court.[19]

The 1993 report of Turkey's Parliamentary Investigation Commission referred to information that Hezbollah had a camp in the Batman region where they received political and military training and assistance from the security forces.[30]

Former Minister Fikri Sağlar said in an interview with the paper Siyah-Beyaz (Black-White) that the army not only used Hezbollah, but actually founded and sponsored the organization. He maintained that such a decision had been taken in 1985 at the highest levels – the National Security Council.[31] On 17 January 2011 Arif Doğan, a retired colonel in the Turkish army who also claims to be a founder of JİTEM, while testifying in court in the Ergenekon case, declared that he set up Hezbollah as a contra group to force to fight and kill militants of the PKK. The organization was originally to be called Hizbul-Kontr ("Party of the Contras").[32]

According to journalist Faik Bulut, some Hizbollah members were caught in Istanbul with 40 kg of C-4 explosive and valid Turkish National Intelligence Organization identity cards.[33]

Human resources

In December 2003 Corry Görgü put the number of militants as high as 20,000[13] a figure presented by the Center for Defense Information as well.[34] Information provided by the Intelligence Resource Program of the Federation of American Scientists based on the 2002 Patterns of Global Terrorism report suggests that the organisation possibly has a few hundred members and several thousand supporters.[35] Ufuk Hiçyılmaz stated that the group had about 1,000 armed members.[36]

Trials (2000–2011)

After the kidnapping of several businessmen in Istanbul and the subsequent raid of a house in Beykoz quarter a nationwide hunt on Hezbollah supporters followed. During the operation in Beykoz on 17 January 2000 Hüseyin Velioğlu was killed and Edip Gümüş and Cemal Tutar were detained. Edip Gümüş, born 1958 in Batman was alleged to lead the military wing of Hezbollah and Cemal Tutar was said to be a member of the armed wing.[37] In this period nearly 6000 KH members were arrested.[1]

In the time to follow many trials were conducted in Diyarbakır and other places against alleged members of Hezbollah. In several instances defendants raised torture allegations. Such allegations are documented in Urgent Actions (UA) of Amnesty International.[38] In the trial in which Edip Gümüş and Cemal Tutar were indicted the defendant Fahrettin Özdemir said on 10 July 2000 that he had been held in custody for 59 days and had been tortured. In the hearing of 11 September 2000 Cemal Tutar said that he had been held in police custody for 180 days.[37]

The Turkish Hezbollah trial was concluded in December 2009. The defendants received varying terms of imprisonment.[39]

Eighteen members of Turkish Hezbollah, amongst them Edip Gümüs and Cemal Tutar, were released from jail on 4 January 2011,[40] in accordance with a recent amendment to the Turkish criminal code that set a limit of 10 years on the time detainees can be held without being sentenced in a final verdict.[41] The juridic authorities demanded a re-arrest of the released, but the police failed in locating them.[40]

Movement of the Oppressed and Hüda-Par (2002–present)

Following the decision to end armed struggle in 2002, sympathizers of Hizbollah's Menzil group founded an association called "Solidarity with the Oppressed" (tr: Mustazaflar ile Dayanışma Derneği or short Mustazaf Der) in 2003.[42] It also became known as the Movement of the Oppressed (Turkish: Mustazaflar Hareketi). On 18 April 2010 Mustazaf Der organized a mass meeting in Diyarbakir to celebrate the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday (known as Mawlid). The Turkish police estimated that the event was attended by 120,000 people. The organizers put the figure at over 300,000.[43]

On 20 April 2010 a court in Diyarbakir ordered the closure of the Association for the Oppressed (Mustazaf-Der) on the grounds that it was "conducting activities on behalf of the terrorist organization Hizbollah."[43] The decision was confirmed by the Court of Cassation on 11 May 2012.[44]

In late 2012, the Movement of the Oppressed announced its will to found a political party, basically to challenge the hegemony of the Peace and Democracy Party.[45] In December 2012, a political party with the name Free Cause Party (Hür Dava Partisi) was founded.[46] Hüda-Par, the abbreviated form of the party's name is synonymous with Hizbollah, both interpreted as the "God's Party", emphasising that the party is a front for the otherwise illegal Hizbollah. Societies affiliated with Hüda-Par operate under the umbrella organisation Lovers of Prophet (Turkish: Peygamber Sevdalıları, Kurdish: Evindarên Pêyxamber) particularly active in Kurdish Mawlid meetings.

See also

Further reading

  • German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism by Guido Steinberg. Columbia University Press, 2013


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Kurdish Ḥizbullāh in Turkey. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. By: Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Nader Entessar, Martin Kramer, Joseph A. Kéchichian, Emrullah Uslu. Source: The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World
  2. ^ Growing Influence of the Hezbollah. Qantara.de (2006-12-29). Retrieved on 2011-02-09.
  3. ^ Türkiye'de Halen Faalıyetlerıne Devam Eden Başlica Terör Örgütlerı Archived 2013-01-14 at the Wayback Machine (in Turkish). Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü.
  4. ^ The real challenge to secular Turkey, The Economist, 31 Aug 2006
  5. ^ a b TTurkish Hezbollah (Hizbullah) / Kurdish Hezbollah Archived 2015-01-02 at the Wayback Machine, turkishweekly.net
  6. ^ Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, Murder on the Bosporus, Middle East Quarterly, June 2000, pp. 15–22, Meforum.org. Retrieved on 2011-02-09.
  7. ^ "Yet the most horrific murder was committed by 'Sofîk'" (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-24, retrieved 2015-11-15
  8. ^ a b c German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism by Guido Steinberg. Columbia University Press, 2013 https://books.google.com/books?id=RVY4AAAAQBAJ&q=Hizbullah
  9. ^ a b c "Ḥizbullāh - Oxford Islamic Studies Online". www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  10. ^ Sevinc, Bilal (2008). "Participation in Terrorist Organizations: An Analysis of Left Wing DHKP/C." ISBN 9781109035827. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  11. ^ Gareth Jenkins Tales from the crypt Archived 2005-12-15 at the Wayback Machine, Al-Ahram Weekly, 3–9 February 2000, Issue No. 467
  12. ^ Ufuk Hiçyılmaz, Aksiyon, 31 January 2005, Maskeli Hizbullah’ın hedefi cemaatler
  13. ^ a b Corry Görgü: "Die Anschläge auf die Synagogen in Istanbul und die Rolle von Staat und Hizbullah"
  14. ^ a b *German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism by Guido Steinberg. Columbia University Press, 2013 https://books.google.com/books?id=RVY4AAAAQBAJ&q=Hizbullah
  15. ^ a b *German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism by Guido Steinberg. Columbia University Press, 2013
  16. ^ Turkish sympathy for militants grows Archived 2006-09-28 at the Wayback Machine Common Dreams News Center
  17. ^ Hizbullah raporunda, örgütün İran İstihbarat Servisi'ne bağlı Pasdar'la büyük benzerlik gösterdiği kaydedildi: 'Askeri eğitim İran'da yapılıyor', TBMM'nin Hizbullah Raporu – Bölüm 1- Cumhuriyet Gazetesi'nden; cited in the daily Cumhuriyet of 2 February 2000.
  18. ^ a b Mehmet Faraç, Cumhuriyet, 19 January 2000, Hizbullah'ın kanlı yolculuğu (archive link)
  19. ^ a b c Human Rights Watch, 16 February 2000, What is Turkey's Hizbullah?
  20. ^ Turkey and the War on Terror, Andrew Mango, (Routledge, 2005), 65.
  21. ^ The Turkish Counter-Terrorism Experience, Suleyman Ozeren, Organizational and Psychological Aspects of Terrorism, Ed. Centre of Excellence Defence against Terrorism, (IOS Press, 2008), 159.
  22. ^ Turkish Hezbollah, Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Ed. Harry W. Kushner, (Sage Publications Inc., 1993), 368-369.
  23. ^ The Kurdish Question and Turkish Foreign Policy, Kemal Kirisci, The future of Turkish foreign policy, Ed. Lenore G. Martin, Dimitris Keridis, (MIT Press, 2004), 295.
  24. ^ Radikal, 3 July 1999, Radikal-online / Türkiye / TÜRKİYE'DEKİ İSLAMCI KURULUŞ VE ÖRGÜTLER Archived 2010-01-30 at the Wayback Machine. Radikal.com.tr. Retrieved on 2011-02-09.
  25. ^ Gürbüz, Mustafa (2013). Bilgin, Fevzi; Sarihan, Ali (eds.). Understanding Turkey's Kurdish Question. Lexington Books. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7391-8402-8.
  26. ^ Milliyet, 23 March 2007, Hizbullah davasında 9 yıl sonra karar; (Turkish). Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  27. ^ "Hrant Dink, Agos Gazetesi önünde silahlı saldırıda öldürüldü". Milliyet (in Turkish). 19 January 2007. Archived from the original on 22 January 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  28. ^ Hurriyet Daily News, 31 January 2000, Hizbullah is prime example of state's 'playing one against the other' policy
  29. ^ Evan Kohlmann, National Review, 25 November 2003, Terrorized Turkey: Pointing fingers at al Qaeda
  30. ^ Akkoç v. Turkey, Application Nos. 22947/93, 22948/93, Judgement of 10 October 2000 Archived 2 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, European Court of Human Rights judgment concerning Akkoç v. Turkey case, section II, C (in English)
  31. ^ Cited in the 2000 Human Rights Watch report relying on the book of Faik Bulut and Mehmet Farac: Kod Adı: Hizbullah (Code name: Hizbullah), Ozan Publishing House, March 1999.
  32. ^ Benjamin Harvey (18 January 2011). "Turkey Officer Says He Created Local Hezbollah Group, Star Says". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  33. ^ Hurriyet Daily News, 27 January 2000, Hizbullah: The Susurluk of the Southeast
  34. ^ In the Spotlight: Turkish Hezbollah, the article was written in December 2003. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  35. ^ Turkish Hizballah. Fas.org. Retrieved on 2011-02-09.
  36. ^ Maskeli Hizbullah'ın hedefi cemaatler; Turkish article published in the journal Aksiyon on 31 January 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  37. ^ a b An online edition of the Annual Report 2000 of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Archived 2012-02-26 at the Wayback Machine is available on the website of the Democratic Turkey Forum
  38. ^ See: EXTRA 64/01 of 14 September 2001 (Hacı Bayancık), UA 218/01 of 4 September 2001 (Hacı Elhunisuni), UA 209/01 of 22 August 2001 (Yasın Karadağ), UA 194/10 of 31 July 2001 (Edip Balık), UA 317/00 of 17 October 2000 (Fesih und Hatice Güler)
  39. ^ Radikal, 31 December 2009, Hizbullah'a 10 yıl sonra 16 müebbet / Türkiye / Radikal İnternet. Radikal.com.tr (2009-12-31). Retrieved on 2011-02-09.
  40. ^ a b Gürbüz, Mustafa (2013). Bilgin, Fevzi; Sarihan, Ali (eds.). Understanding Turkey's Kurdish Question. Lexington Books. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-7391-8402-8.
  41. ^ Sebnem Arsu (4 January 2011). "After a Court Ruling, Turkey Frees 23 Suspected Militants". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  42. ^ Compare an article in the daily Radikal of 13 April 2013: Hizbullah: Tebliğ, Cemaat, Cihat; accessed on 15 April 2013
  43. ^ a b See an article of the International Relation and Security Network in Zurich of 15 June 2010 written by Gareth Jenkins A New Front in the PKK Insurgency, accessed on 15 April 2013
  44. ^ See an article of the portal timeturk.com Mustazaf-Der resmen kapatıldı! dated 11 May 2012; accessed on 15 April 2013
  45. ^ Hüda-Par'ın rakibi BDP mi, AK Parti'mi?. Timeturk.com (2012-12-06). Retrieved on 2013-02-09.
  46. ^ Hür Dava Partisi (Hüda-Par) Resmen Kuruldu Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine. Haberdiyarbakir.com (2012-12-17). Retrieved on 2013-02-09.

External links

  • Levitsky, Olga, "In the Spotlight: Turkish Hezbollah". Terrorism. Center for Defense Information. December 10, 2003.
  • Turkish Hezbollah: Release of Turkish Hezbollah Members Rocks Turkey
  • Hizbullah (Oxford)
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