Turkish Hizballah is a Kurdish Islamic (Sunni) extremist organization that arose in the late 1980s in response to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) atrocities against Muslims in southeastern Turkey, where (Turkish) Hizballah seeks to establish an independent Islamic state.
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, in a shootout at a safehouse in Istanbul. The incident sparked a yearlong series of counterterrorist operations against the group 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 1990s. The group began targeting official Turkish interests in January 2001, when its operatives assassinated the Diyarbakir police chief in the group’s most sophisticated operation to date. Turkish Hizballah did not conduct a major operation in 2002.
Possibly a few hundred members and several thousand supporters.
Location/Area of Operation
Turkey, primarily the Diyarbakir region of southeastern Turkey.