Turkish Hizballah is a Kurdish Islamic (Sunni) extremist organization that arose in the late 1980s in the Diyarbakir area in response to Kurdistan Workers' Party atrocities against Muslims in southeastern Turkey, where (Turkish) Hizballah seeks to establish an independent Islamic state. The group comprises loosely organized factions, the largest of which are Ilim, which advocates the use of violence to achieve the group's goals, and Menzil, which supports an intellectual approach. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Turkish Hizballah—which is unrelated to Lebanese Hizballah—expanded its target base and modus operandi from killing PKK militants to conducting low-level bombings against liquor stores, bordellos, and other establishments that the organization considered "anti-Islamic." In January 2000, Turkish security forces killed Huseyin Velioglu, the leader of (Turkish) Hizballah's Ilim faction, in a shootout at a safehouse in Istanbul. The incident sparked a year-long series of operations against the group throughout Turkey that resulted in the detention of some 2,000 individuals; authorities arrested several hundred of those on criminal charges. At the same time, police recovered nearly 70 bodies of Turkish and Kurdish businessmen and journalists that (Turkish) Hizballah had tortured and brutally murdered during the mid to late-1990's. The group began targeting official Turkish interests in January 2001, when 10–20 operatives participated in the assassination of the Diyarbakir police chief.
Turkish Hizballah operates primarily in southeastern Turkey—particularly the Diyarbakir region—and Turkish officials charge that the group receives at least some assistance, including training, from Iran. Turkish Hizballah strength is estimated at several hundred active members and several thousand supporters.
█ FURTHER READING:
CDI (Center for Defense Information), Terrorism Project. CDI Fact Sheet: Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. March 27, 2003. < http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/terrorist.cfm > (April 17, 2003).
Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ > (April 16, 2003).
Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001," Annual Report: On the Record Briefing. May 21, 2002 < http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm > (April 17,2003).
U.S. Department of State. Annual Reports. < http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html > (April 16, 2003).