Military


Turkish Hizbullah

Turkish Hizbullah [Hizbollah], an Islamist Turkish terrorist group (not related to Lebanese Hizbullah), continues to target civilians in southeast Turkey. Hizbullah reportedly was responsible for at least four deaths in 1997. Four trials continued against 89 Hizbullah members charged with a total of 113 murders. In 1996 the Foreign Ministry stated that a case had been brought against Hizbullah for the 1993 murder of DEP parliamentarian Mehmet Sincar; human rights groups consider the case a mystery killing.

Hizbullah was founded in the 1980's at the height of an armed separatist Kurdish rebellion waged by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party known as the PKK. Some human rights activists in the southeast believe that Turkish Hizbullah was founded by the Government to target the PKK and its sympathizers. The Turkish media has widely reported charges that Turkish security forces used Hizbollah members in the early 1990's to kill hundreds of Kurdish dissidents. There have been widespread allegations in the mainstream Turkish press that Hizbullah was encouraged by, if not actually linked to, rogue elements within the Turkish security apparatus who supported the group's attacks against Kurdish nationalists. Those allegations are forcefully rejected by the Turkish military which called the charges "slander devoid of sense or logic." Turkish security officials say Hizbollah is being trained and financed by Iran to subvert Turkey's secular government. Turkish officials say Hizbullah could be responsible for the murders of several leading Turkish pro-secular academics and journalists in recent years.

In January 2000 Istanbul police shot dead Huseyin Velioglu the leader of the most deadly faction of the Hizbullah. Two other militants were captured in the operation that security officials described as the most crippling blow yet to the organization. Turkish authorities also captured nine Hizbullah militants, including the group's Ankara leader, during separate raids in the capital and in the southern provinces of Adiyaman and Gazaiantep. Turkish police found the bodies of over 30 missing businessmen and others who were believed to have been kidnapped by Hizbullah. Many of the bodies bore marks of torture. Some had obviously been buried alive, their hands and feet tied behind their back, their bodies naked. The decomposed bodies included those of several Kurdish businessmen with links to a moderate Islamic brotherhood known as the Nurcus. The businessmen had mysteriously disappeared during the past few months. There were widespread reports they had been kidnapped by Hizbullah for refusing to give them money.



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