Turkish mafia boss Alaattin Çakıcı has spent decades terrorizing rivals and those holding different political views than his own. As one of the leading figures of a right-wing extremist group called the Grey Wolves, which has focused its ire in the past on leftists, Kurds and Alawites, Çakıcı is thought to be responsible for at least 41 political murders. In 2004, a court sentenced him to 19 years in prison, in part for having his ex-wife murdered in front of their son. A lot of people breathed a sigh of relief when he was locked up. One of the most dangerous enemies of Turkish democracy had been removed from public life for an extended period. Now, though, Çakıcı is back. Last April, he was released from high-security Sincan Prison as part of an amnesty related to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, he has increasingly become a voice in Turkish politics. Shortly after his release, Çakıcı visited his ally Devlet Bahçeli, head of the right-wing extremist party MHP and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s coalition partner. In November, he issued a death threat to opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. “Watch your step”, he wrote on Twitter. And when thousands of students took to the streets of Istanbul at the beginning of the year to protest the appointment of an Erdoğan confidant to the position of rector of the renowned Bosporus University, he branded the demonstrators terrorists. Çakıcı’s newly expanded public profile is the expression of a fundamental power shift in Turkey.
Maximilian Popp en Anna-Sophie Schneider in Erdogan’s Pact with the Ultra-Nationalists (Spiegel.de)