Turkey: Dead ultra-nationalist figure commemorated with respect

Turkey: Dead ultra-nationalist figure commemorated with respect
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Many wrote on social media in respect for Abdullah Catli, who had seven unarmed students tied up and strangled to death in a house 45 years ago.

A Turkish ultra-nationalist figure who served in covert operations of Turkey's intelligence agencies and who became a crime network boss over time was commemorated with great respect by many social media users on Thursday on the occasion of his birthday.

Abdullah Catli, who was killed in November 1996 near Turkey's western town of Susurluk in a car accident that sparked the "Susurluk Scandal," was responsible, among many other crimes, for planning and overseeing the murder of seven young leftists who were slaughtered by Catli and his men in 1978.

Although he was legendized by ultra-nationalists in Turkey over claims that he served as trigger man for the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT) in covert operations targeting members of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), former MIT counter-terrorism chief Mehmet Eymur had dismissed such claims as "lies." He told a reporter in 2019 that "Catli and his crew were involved in drug trafficking in Europe" at the time.

Catli died in a car with a senior police chief on his side, and a deputy, whose army of guards assisted state forces in the 1990s in their operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Kurdish dissidents, was injured in the same car.

The accident quickly turned into a political scandal and sparked investigations into secret links between state officials, mafia figures and politicians.

Neither the innocent blood on Catli's hands, nor his involvement in drug trade, bribery and extortion, prevented him from being elevated to the status of a national hero in the eyes of many in Turkey.

As the hashtag "Abdullah Catli" hit Twitter's list of trending topics on Thursday, an "osmanli1453" said, referring to Catli as "chief:"

"Hey chief, everyone who fires a shot at my state is old enough to die."

Another user said:

"An Abdullah Catli passed from this world; a man who introduced Kur Sad's grudge to those who plot murder of Turks. May God bless your soul, chief."

For the memory of a man who and his men tied up seven unarmed students and strangled them to death in cold blood 45 years ago, a "Kurttan Tureyenler" ("Bred from Wolf") proudly said:

"We were playing with death in streets where everyone else was in fear. Abdullah Catli, he was a Grey Wolf."