A group of Turkish radical Islamist jihadists have formed Iran’s Basij-like militia organisation to fight against the opponents of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “A self-described jihadist who says he led a team of men fighting in Syria has registered an association to “oppose” opponents of Erdoğan on the streets, reported by the left-wing İlerihaber news website
Fatih Kaya, who styles himself the commander of a Türkmen Syrian mountain team, registered the People’s Special Operations (Hall Özel Harekatı – HÖH) in the northeastern city of Trabzon and has since opened an office in Ankara’s central Kızılay district. The association says it is active in 22 provinces.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Murat Bakan has asked Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu whether the group was a paramilitary formation and if special permission had been granted for the association to wage war.
“Our commander-in-chief Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced the jihad to us,” a Trabzon news website quoted Kaya as saying. “Let those infidels and traitors memorise this well.”
“As the People’s Special Operations we are ready to carry out all the duties given us by our state.”
The association’s official activity is “the socio-political field”, İlerihaber said.
Thousands of jihadists, including those who have fought for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), are thought to have returned to Turkey from Syria.
The Basij (The Organization for Mobilization of the Oppressed) is one of the five forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran. A paramilitary volunteer militia established in Iran in 1979 by order of Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Iranian Revolution, the organization originally consisted of civilian volunteers who were urged by Khomeini to fight in the Iran–Iraq War.
It was an independent organization from inception until 17 February 1981, when it was officially incorporated into the Revolutionary Guards organisation structure by the Iranian Parliament in order to end the inter-service rivalry between the two, according to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Today the force consists of young Iranians who volunteer, often in exchange for official benefits. Basij serve as an auxiliary force engaged in activities such as internal security, law enforcement auxiliary, providing social services, organizing public religious ceremonies, policing morals, and suppression of dissident gatherings.