Just when a long era of civil conflict, terrorism, and economic hardship in Turkey seemed to come to an end in 1999, the country encountered the frightening face of militant Islamism with the revelations of Hizbullah atrocities in January 2000. Beyond the gripping horror of this story, it showed that an undercurrent of tension with political Islam continues to disorient the political scene in Turkey.

A Police Raid

Last January 17, at 2:30 p.m. a small and lightly armed contingent of Istanbul's intelligence police approached a villa in the beautiful and famously peaceful neighborhood of Beykoz, on the banks of Bosphorus. They were not expecting trouble; they merely were trying to trace the users of credit cards that had belonged to several missing businessmen. So, when the inhabitants of the villa opened fire, the police were taken by surprise and called for reinforcements from an anti-terrorist unit. The ensuing gun battle lasted nearly five hours.

Only one policeman was wounded, but a man inside the house was killed. He turned out to be Huseyin Velioğlu, the leader of a militant Islamist group named Ilim (Science) but more generally called Hizbullah. (The group is unrelated to the infamous Lebanese organization of the same name). Two other men in the house were taken into custody, as was their cache of automatic rifles, ammunition, and explosives. Police also seized sacks of documents, including identification cards and photographs. Most gruesomely, the authorities found videotapes that recorded numerous instances of torture and murder Hizbullah had carried out.

The captured suspects quickly turned informants, allowing the police and the National Intelligence Organization to conduct an immediate nation-wide dragnet against Hizbullah, raiding many of its safe houses, and arresting dozens of suspects. Among its discoveries, the dragnet uncovered a "house of horror," as it was dubbed by the media, in Üsküdar, a suburb across the Bosphorus from Istanbul, in which the bodies of ten missing businessmen were found. Five people arrested in Ankara were then linked to the October 21, 1999 bomb assassination of Professor Ahmet Taner Ki_lali. As the raids continued, the number of people arrested rose into the hundreds and the number of Hizbullah's victims rose to over sixty.1

Investigators learned that the modus operandi of the organization was to kidnap a victim, transfer him inside a refrigerators or container box to one of its nation-wide network of safe houses for months of "interrogations." These safe houses, where the militants maintained a semblance of normal lives (often residing with their families), later also served as burial grounds for the victims.

Among the many recovered documents in the Beykoz villa, one particularly stirred the nation: the identification card belonging to a well-known Islamist feminist named Konca Kuri_. Kuri_ had once famously gone on television to suggest that women be allowed to pray alongside men in Muslim funerals—a call that intensely angered many conservative Islamists. The captured videotapes showed that Kuri_ had been tortured for thirty-five hours before she was strangled. Her body was found in a shallow grave in Konya, 220 miles northwest of the Mediterranean city of Mersin, where she had been kidnapped in July 1998.

Hizbullah's bizarre proclivity for documenting its evil proceedings produced an immense archive of violence, one so revolting that a January cabinet meeting, where the minister of interior affairs presented samples, ended soon after it started because cabinet members could watch no more. At the height of the police operations in early February, a Turkish friend told me: "What they are finding is so disgusting that we cannot sit down in front the television as a family and watch the evening news these days. You don't have the stomach to eat anything afterwards."

A mystery continues to surround the Turkish Hizbullah and its motives. Many of the recent victims of the Hizbullah killing machine seem to have been Islamist businessmen who at one point or another had a falling out with the group or had connections with a rival religious order. Others were innocent bystanders who chanced upon a Hizbullah cell—as in the case of two Dıyarbakır youth later found dead—or were suspected infiltrators. The logic behind the voyeuristic violence and the web of dark relations that nourished the organization may never be fully unearthed.

Hizbullah's Turkey

The unprecedented level of violence and cruelty that was uncovered at every step of the investigation into Hizbullah caused the Turkish public to ask just how such a malignant force could arise in their midst. When did it begin? Who started it? Who joined it? What were its aims? Who were its targets, and why? How did it come to adopt such appalling methods?

Despite a flow of information from the police investigation, the aims and ideological background of Turkish Hizbullah have remained in the dark, clouded by the group's surreal level of violence and the media's tabloid voyeurism. Various scenarios and conspiracy theories about the birth and objectives of the group have entered the debate, but an understanding of the ideological terrain that produced and maintained such violence is not easily developed. Was it an violent group hoping to establish the rule of Shari‘a (Islamic law) by overthrowing the secular state, as was suggested by Minister of Interior Affairs Saadettin Tantan; or was the group after a unique hybrid of Kurdish nationalism and Islamism, as some of Hizbullah literature hints? Did the state foster or turn a blind eye to the terrorist network when its early years were marked by its attacks on Kurdish separatists? Where did the intellectual predecessors of Hizbullah come from— the Islamic regime in neighboring Iran or the Sunni Islamist ideology forwarded by such organizations as the Muslim Brethren or Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front?

To approach these questions, one must first understand the two overwhelming facts that constitute their backdrop: seventy-five years of Turkish secularism and twenty years of Kurdish separatism.

Turkish secularism goes back to the early 1920s and the founding of the modern Turkish republic by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In an effort to modernize the nation and secure a complete break with its Ottoman legacy — then seen as backward and bankrupt — Atatürk instituted a Westernizing state ideology based on European concepts of secularism. To this day, a strict separation of mosque and state remains one of the main pillars of Turkish political culture. But starting in the 1980s, Turkey's unique interpretation of laicité came under fire from the Islamists, who demanded an expansion of Islamic rule in both the public and private arenas. Particularly since 1995, when the Welfare Party (Refah Partisi ), an Islamist party, won as much as 21 percent of the vote in general elections, Turkey has painfully been renegotiating the role of political Islam within a parliamentary system. But despite a few instances of fringe Islamist radicalism —including the still-unsolved murders of secularist journalists Uður Mumcu and Cetin Emec in the early 1990s and sectarian violence against a group of atheist and Alevi writers and poets in Sivas in 1993—political Islam in Turkey had primarily been non-violent, confined to legitimate platforms, choosing to fight its battle inside parliament and the court of public opinion, not on the streets.

The second backdrop for the emergence of Hizbullah is Kurdish separatism, which dates from the military coup of 1980. It began in eastern Turkey with the birth of an armed guerilla movement, the Kurdistan Workers Party (Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan, PKK), which aimed to set up an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey. The brutal tactics of the Marxist-Leninist PKK fell upon a region that already suffered from feudalism and an increasingly aggressive, at times repressive, state. Kurdish demands for self-rule provoked an angry response from the staunchly unitary Kemalist state, setting the stage for a long and consuming battle for the hearts and minds of Turkey's twelve million Kurds.

Into this milieu was Hizbullah born.

Hizbullah's Beginnings

While there is no indisputable data on the origins of Hizbullah, most accounts date its beginning to the early 1980s and place it in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeastern regions. The notable absence of information is partly owing to the highly clandestine and compartmentalized nature of the organization.2 Journalist Rusen Çakir pinpoints its origin to a meeting between a group of Islamists (including Velioğlu) and several fellow ultra-religious activists including Molla Mansur Güzelsoy, Fidan Güngör, Ubeydahlah Dalar and Abdullah Yigit, sympathetic to both the Islamic revolution in neighboring Iran and the writings of Sa‘d Hawwa, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brethren in Syria.3 The Iranian revolution and the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini had an immense impact at that time on the then-amateur Islamic radicals in Turkey. Soon, however, the Kurdish Islamists split into two factions, according to their sentiments toward the Iranian regime. Velioğlu's Ilim adopted an increasingly anti-Teheran and anti-Shi‘ite stance—although recent newspaper reports claimed Velioğlu was periodically courted by the Iranian regime, received military training from it, and was given a visa by it. The rival group Menzil was led first by Kurdish Islamist Molla Mansur Güzelsoy, and later by Fidan Güngör—largely thought to have been killed upon orders from Velioğlu.

The relationship between Iran and Hizbullah was at best a murky and self-contradictory one. The Iranian regime had no qualms about extending its policy of exporting the Islamic revolution to neighboring Turkey, aiding groups such as the underground the Great Islamic Eastern Raiders Front (Islami Büyük Dogu Akıncılar Cephesi, or IBDA-C), Menzil and Ilim. But once the initial excitement about a popular Iranian revolution was over, by and large Turkish Islamists, and particularly those with legitimate political platforms, were cold to overtures from the Shi‘ite regime in Iran.4 Radicals however, remained susceptible to Iranian assistance and ideological temptations.

For its part, Hizbullah spent the late 1980s fighting ferociously against the pro-Iranian Menzil group in southeastern Turkey, killing off activists and prominent preachers from that group. The intra-Islamist struggle in southeastern Turkey was not based on ideological differences regarding Iran, but rather on a ruthless power struggle and the vengeful personality of the Ilim leader. Yet observers have remarked that Hizbullah leader Velioğlu had at least ideologically distanced himself from Iran, banning books by Iranian clergy from pro-Hizbullah bookstores and circles. Still, the findings of a 1995 parliamentary inquiry are noteworthy, suggesting that 400–500 teenagers, possibly linked to Hizbullah, had received ideological and military training in Iranian camps.5 Similar unconfirmed reports recently hinted at ties with Iran, such as allegations of Iranian funding for Hizbullah and an Iranian visa and open invitation issued to Velioğlu for travel to Iran. It is fair to conclude that Sunni-oriented Hizbullah possibly did not have a strong commitment to Iran or was a puppet of the Iranian regime, but developed low-level connections with the neighboring regime.

Securing a Niche

Thus hidden from the public and media as a mere local story from the southeast, Ilim had, by the nineties, emerged victorious from a bitter and bloody struggle with its rival Islamist groups, wiping out any possibility of dissent from hard-line Islamist conservatives. Although the Ilim group, organized as a religious order, remained clandestine and confined to the Kurdish regions, its leader Velioğlu increasingly gained a cult-status among a small group of ultra-Islamist urban poor of Kurdish descent. He preached a unique brand of revolutionary and violent Islamist take-over, often laced with Kurdish nationalist themes.6 It was in this period that the group started quietly kidnapping, interrogating, and at times eliminating adversaries or those they saw as a threat.

Hizbullah also had its eyes on a political vacuum. While the Marxist PKK had a certain appeal for Kurdish youth trapped by poverty, state repression, and a strict feudal order based on land ownership and tribal allegiances, it failed to strike a cord with the religiously and politically conservative segments of Kurdish society. PKK teachings were often dogmatic, and its tactics ruthless, resulting in the alienation of several powerful tribes, religious orders, traditional Kurdish notables, and non-violent Islamists. In this polarized atmosphere, Hizbullah and other Islamist groups were able to recruit sympathizers. Thus Hizbullah turned its wrath on its new rivals, Kurdish nationalists and PKK activists, embarking on a campaign of killings and self-styled "Islamic slayings" in the cities of Dıyarbakır, Batman, Van, and other elsewhere in southeastern Turkey. (Batman, incidentally, was the nucleus of Hizbullah activity.)

Suddenly, in urban areas of Kurdish regions, Hizbullah emerged as a key force fighting the civilian infrastructure of the pro-Kurdish movement. Typical Hizbullah targets were members of pro-PKK political parties, newspapers, and leading Kurdish nationalist political figures. Meanwhile, despite its vehemently anti-secularist teachings, Hizbullah refrained from attacking the state apparatus and thereby avoided a confrontation with the authorities. The government, for its part, paid little attention to the burgeoning of Islamic groups in urban areas of Kurdish regions, for the struggle between the security forces and the PKK was intensifying in the mid-1980s. Indeed, given their focus on the nationalist and leftist ideological influence from the PKK, most governments in Ankara during the next two decades saw possible allies in non-violent Islamic groups and sects. Certain sectors within the security apparatus may even have viewed Hizbullah as a mildly useful fringe group, and it is this that has led to today's controversial allegations that Hizbullah benefited from state patronage.

An influential website run by a former senior Turkish intelligence official calls the Turkish Hizbullah a "Frankenstein," suggesting that this was an organization which received the blessing of local police and gendermerie in southeastern Turkey in the 1980s and later "got out of control."7 Observers note that during these years, Hizbullah fostered its ties with local forces in southeastern Turkey but meanwhile quietly worked towards its ultimate goal of a jihad against the forces of secularism. Thus, with the aid of an underground network of cells, computer technology, and the money extorted from victims and their families, the organization developed a sophisticated internal hierarchy based on Islamic principles. The leader was referred to as the "imam," while his immediate subordinates were celled the "Islamic Council" (Islam _urasi).8 Thus the organization developed as a secret cult, feeding off Islamic-leaning businessmen and the revenues from various illegal activities. The questions from torturers on videotaped interrogations – later shown to the leader – point to an organization uncompromising in its religious dogma but at the same time tuned in to financial arrangements and business connections.

The recent crackdown on Hizbullah cells across the nation, leading to nearly one thousand arrests, underlined what the Turkish authorities had already assumed––that Hizbullah eventually wanted to move westward, organize on a national level, and prepare the grounds for the final phase of struggle with the secular state. In Turkey, due to the staunchly secularist republic's intolerance of religious groups, cults, and orders, there already existed a subculture of clandestine religious societies, particularly attracting a conservative rural constituency around various charismatic religious leaders and preachers. It was this otherwise benign subculture that Hizbullah tapped into for recruits in poor urban areas.

The Collusion Debate

In early 1990s, the PKK was at the height of its power, with a force of 15,000 armed guerillas; it posed a major challenge to state authority in southeastern Turkey. Fighting for an independent homeland for Kurds, the guerilla force operated in the mountainous terrain of northern Iraq and eastern Turkey, with its leadership seated in Syria. While the armed forces and the village guards had some success in countering PKK insurgency in rural areas, the urban and increasingly civilian face of the PKK in eastern Turkey—as well as in Istanbul, Ankara, and Europe—was often beyond reach.

Moreover, Turkey's human-rights record was deteriorating rapidly during its long struggle with Kurdish insurgency. Washington and Turkey's European partners accused Ankara of carrying out a scorched-earth policy against the PKK, hurting the civilian Kurdish population. Many observers of Turkish politics have pointed out, in recent months, that in this gray zone of illegality, Hizbullah became instrumental in countering the PKK, with the direct or indirect blessing of the Turkish security apparatus. A recent report from the Washington-based Human Rights Watch put it this way: "Young assassins operated in broad daylight in the mainly Kurdish cities of southeastern Turkey. People who opposed the government's policy were killed at a rate of two a day; in all, more than a 1,000 people were killed in street shootings from 1992 to 1995. The government remained deaf to allegations that its security forces were colluding with Hizbullah."9 It is indeed likely that Hizbullah benefited from various rifts inside Turkey's vast network of security apparatchiks, aligning itself with a certain hard-liner clique inside the state system that wanted to fight the PKK through any means possible.

For confirmation of this, one need not look further than a non-partisan commission established after the 1993 assassination of the prominent secularist journalist Uur Mumcu and later empowered to investigate a distinct pattern of murders in Kurdish regions. The commission's 1995 parliamentary report on unsolved murders found disturbing links between Hizbullah murders of Kurdish dissidents and several members of local security forces.10 Its findings, although inconclusive, concentrated on the region of Batman and the dubious relationships among the governorate, gendarmerie, the police, and suspected Hizbullah members. Recently, Turkish papers have questioned the fate of some weapons missing from a million dollars cache of arms imported in the 1990s by the governor of Batman, allegedly for the local militia fighting the PKK.11 Authorities have opened an investigation into the case, and the local military branch issued a sharp denial.

But the level of state patronage for Hizbullah is not nearly as unequivocal as the Human Rights Watch report suggests. The security forces in southeastern Turkey have cracked down on Hizbullah at various periods in the 1990s. Traveling in southeastern Turkey as a journalist in the mid-1990s, this writer observed that many in the urban population were convinced that Hizbullah was doing the security forces' dirty work. During the same period, however, various prosecutors and police chiefs pursued the organization, though with limited success, in Dıyarbakır and Van.

Thus, despite its shortcomings, Turkey's peculiar democracy is accommodating a lively public debate about governmental policies through the nation's large network of independent media. In the wake of news about a nationwide Hizbullah network, Turks have engaged in a heated discussion concerning the relationship between the security forces in southeastern Turkey and the Islamist killing machine. Today, with a heightened awareness about the threats posed by violent fundamentalist movements, similar issues are raised both by the government and the media regarding Hizbullah.

The Islamist Debate

The Hizbullah episode has also provided a new framework for one of Turkey's long-standing debates: What is the place of Islam in a secular Turkey? In the last few years, the Turkish public has grown more concerned about the rise of political Islam, and many have been critical of the policy of encouragement for Islamic movements during the 1980s and early 1990s. This policy, commonly called the "Turkish-Islamic synthesis," tolerated increased visibility of right-wing Turkish nationalist and non-violent Islamists in bureaucracy and the political arena as a natural bulwark against leftist and Kurdish nationalism. Critics often recall the famous town meetings of the military coup leader and former Turkish president Kenan Evren, during which—contrary to the secular political traditions at the time—he would begin by reciting the Qur'an.

Over the last few years, in a reversal of that policy, the secularist establishment's battle with political Islamists—nonviolent and violent alike—has provided Turks with a great deal of ammunition about the threat of radical Islamic groups to democracy. For example, in late 1997, the National Security Council, Turkey's top military body, declared Islamism the country's number one "domestic threat"—relegating the all-time front-runner, "Kurdish separatism," to a mere second place.12 It said so despite Turkey's having a long tradition of Islamic politics, stretching from conservative movements of the late 1960s to the year-long reign of the pro-Islamist Welfare Party in 1996-97.

Islamism as a particular ideology that grew out of the post-modern social and political context in the Middle East after the Iranian revolution. In other words, fundamentalist Islam is different from the conservative and far-right movements of the 1960s that were laced with religious themes

The Hizbullah episode was the first time Turks witnessed a face of militant Islamism similar to violent movements in Algeria, Israel and Egypt. And it was the first time that violent religious activism was seen as a real and imminent challenge to the social order on a popular level. Consequently, nothing coming before had the impact of the Hizbullah episode in alienating popular opinion from Islamic politics. It also put under sharp scrutiny the relationship between Hizbullah and the non-violent political Islamists espousing legitimate political platforms—such as members of the Virtue Party (a descendant of the Welfare Party, shut down in 1998 due to a perception that it threatened parliamentary democracy). Among those threats, according to Chief Prosecutor Vural Savaş, were "attempts to uproot parliamentary democracy" and "change the secular nature of the Turkish state"13 ––both banned by the Turkish constitution.

While not organically linked to the Islamists of the Virtue Party, Hizbullah certainly grew out of an atmosphere of tension between the secular state and the desires of political Islam. Thus, many ordinary citizens and members of the secular establishment ask whether groups such as Virtue foster an atmosphere for radicalism, and the Virtue Party has paid a heavy price politically and in the court of public opinion since January. Already facing legal charges as its predecessor did, Virtue has tried to paint itself as a mainstream conservative element within the political spectrum; the Hizbullah revelations did much to set back this attempt.

Wanting to minimize the damage to his party, the Virtue Party's leader, Recai Kutan, tried to turn the Hizbullah case against the secular establishment. He picked up the charge that the military deliberately ignored the organization for years when it was fighting the PKK, an accusation that prompted a sharp denial from the Turkish military: "To link directly or indirectly the merciless murder network Hizbullah to the Turkish armed forces is a slander without any logic."14 Tensions with Turkey's powerful military had the effect of dealing a blow to Virtue's popularity and delegitimizing the role of Islamists in politics. Renewed tensions between the Islamists and the military will also likely deepen the split between non-violent and violent Islamists. Today, Virtue is a loose coalition of non-violent Islamists, conservative nationalists, and hard-core anti-secularists who are united only by political expediency and the charisma of its former leader Necmettin Erbakan. Further political pressures from the army and public opinion will likely alienate moderates inside the party.

But perhaps the most interesting outcome of the Hizbullah episode was not its direct impact on the public political scene but on the private questionings and internal arguments of ordinary citizens, particularly Islamists and the residents of southeastern Turkey. The discovery of Hizbullah violence had an unprecedented impact on leading Islamist figures, inspiring a self-critical inquiry about their prior lack of concern for violent movements within their ranks. "Because of the seeming ideological kinship," wrote the leading Islamist thinker Fehmi Koru in the Islamist daily Yeni Şafak, "I hold my head in shame. We are not faced with singular acts committed by disturbed individuals; this is an organization of savages who are willing to kill people in the most violent manner, and they rose among our ranks."15 While emphasizing the dubious official links between security forces in southeastern Turkey and Hizbullah, Koru and other moderate Muslim thinkers and politicians reprimanded their own community for turning a blind eye to radical elements.

Conclusion

The Hizbullah episode raises vital questions about Turkish democracy and the negotiation between political Islam and the Kemalist state. To join the ranks of the Western democratic powers requires the state to find a formula that allows non-violent Islamists to take part in a parliamentary democracy while continuing to battle radical groups such as Hizbullah. However, in a country with a Turkey's historical baggage and regional conditions, that formula does not come easily. With the ousting of the Welfare Party from power in 1997 and the subsequent ban on Welfare and its leader, the Turkish establishment remains inflexible in accommodating Islamists, however non-violent, in the political arena. Leading judiciary and military figures view the Welfare and Virtue parties as the benign but misleading face of an ideology that aims to destroy the secular republic. At the same time, measures against the Islamist political parties threatens Turkey's democratic credentials, evoking criticism that Ankara infringes on the basic principles of parliamentary democracy by annulling voter's choice. (The Welfare Party received 21 percent of the vote in 1995 general elections; its descendent Virtue, also facing charges that might lead to a ban, received 16 percent in the April 1999 general elections.) Furthermore, the former leader of Welfare Party, Necmettin Erbakan faces imprisonment charges, potentially signaling another international wave of criticism about Turkey's human rights record.

Against this background, the Hizbullah atrocities served as a vital reminder to the Turkish establishment that neglecting radical movements can have devastating results. Less emphasized was that radical groups such as Hizbullah do not seem to have any connection to political Islamists such as those in Welfare and Virtue. The secular establishment's struggle with the pro-Islamic Virtue Party will likely continue; however, it is hard to imagine the non-violent Islamists entirely eliminated from politics. Leading Islamist figures such as parliamentarian Abdullah Gül or former mayor of Istanbul Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will likely continue to play key roles in Turkish politics––and that is just as well. To meet the challenges from a new era and prevent Islamists from reverting to illegitimate platforms or falling prey to groups like Hizbullah, the Kemalist state has to find ways to accommodate non-violent Islamists within the institutions of parliamentary democracy.
Aslı Aydıntaşbaş is a Turkish New York-based Turkish journalist and a columnist for Turkish daily Yeni Binyıl.
1 Sabah, Hürriyet, and Milliyet between Jan. 17 and Feb. 10, 2000. The news network NTV at www.ntv.com.tr and the daily Hürriyet at www.hurriyet.com.tr have special news packages on Hizbullah.
2 Two official documents, the final report of the Turkish parliament's Commission on Unsolved Murders, Apr. 1995, and the famous 1997 "Susurluk Report" by Kutlu Savaş, director of the Prime Ministry Investigation Board, offer invaluable insight on Hizbullah and its alleged links with the security forces. Also see Faik Bulut and Mehmet Fara, Kod Adi: Hizbullah (Istanbul: (Code Name: Hizbullah), Ozone, 1999).
3 "Amac Kurt Seriatciligi", Milliyet, Jan. 20, 2000.
4 Best echoed in a 1985 statement by the prominent Islamist intellectual and writer Ismet Ozel, a former leftist, who warned that "Teheran wants to be the Moscow for Muslims" quoted in Rusen Çakir, Ayet ve Slogan (Istanbul: Metis, 1990), p. 159.
5 Ersan Aydınlı, "Implications of Turkey's Hizbullah Operations," Policy Paper # 439 (Washington, D.C.: The Washington Institute, Feb. 9, 2000).
6 Cakir labels Hizbullah as a "Islamist Kurdish nationalist," Milliyet, Jan. 20, 2000. In the late nineties however, the group also became active in western Turkey.
7 See former senior Turkish intelligence official Mehmet Eymur's website, Anadolu Turk Interneti at http://www.atin.org.
8 Anadolu Türk Interneti Eymur at www.atin.org/arsiv/hizbullah.
9 What is Turkey's Hizbullah?: A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, (Washington, D.C.: Human Rights Watch, Feb. 16, 2000).
10 Ibid.
11 Milliyet and Radikal (Istanbul), Feb. 12, 2000.
12 The fact that the Turkish military had re-evaluated its definition of "domestic threat" and altered its primary guidance on national security, MM National Security Council media briefing, Apr. 29, 1997. The new Concept regarded "fundamentalism" (irtica) – and not "separatism" due to the success of the military's campaign against the PKK — as the primary domestic treat to national security.
13 Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the Chief Judge of the Constitutional Court, press conference, Jan. 16, 1998., explaining the Court's decision to ban Welfare Party based on the list of charges pressed by the nation's Chief Prosecutor Vural Savaş. See Turkish papers Milliyet, Hürriyet, Sabah, Jan. 17, 1998.
14 Written statement from the Office of the General Staff, Jan. 24, 2000.
15 Fehmi Koru, "Daha Buyuk Gercek," Yeni Şafak (Istanbul), Jan. 30, 2000; Akit (Istanbul), Jan. 31, 2000.