The IBDA-C was established in the mid-1970’s by a breakaway faction of the youth group of the then “Islamic Salvation Party” headed by former Turkish Prime Minister Nejmettin Erbakan. The organization started out as a movement for Islamic revival, though in this case the term “revival” refers not to reforms in a modern spirit but to the revival of pure Islam and a return to its original sources. The organization’s ideology—formulated by Necip Fazil Kisakurek (1905-1983), a religious historian, writer and poet—speaks of a “new understanding of Islam” with the intention of “settling the account between the West and the East.”
IBDA-C is a unique and strange organization that espouses a new ideology of its own creation, which it seeks to implement by violent means. Alongside its Islamist agenda, the organization has adopted a Trotskyist version of Communism—what might be described as “left-wing” Wahhabism. As a Sunni faction, the organization is hostile to Iran and the Iranian Shiite revolution.
Its primary goal is the establishment of the Federative Islamic State—a goal backed by armed terror attacks mainly against civilian targets. Under the leadership of Salih ?zzet Erdi? Mirzabeyoglu, the IBDA-C has carried out assassinations, bombings, and violent demonstrations in Turkey.
Ideology & Strategy
Necip Fazil Kisakurek, the IBDA-C’s ideologue, published 130 books on Islamic thought, Islamic arts and other issues. His thought continues to influence the IBDA-C.
According to IBDA-C Publications “Buyuk Dogu” (The Great Orient, in Turkish) is a system of thought. Its only objective is to serve as a means in establishing an Islamic state “in accordance with Islamic truth.” The organization claims to represent the “Islamic truth,” to which all other Islamic revivalist movements should devote their resources. Necip Fazil Kisakurek has drawn the very general outlines of the description of “salvation”, which will the organization aims to implement, firt in Turkey, then in the Muslim world, and finally all over the world.
Kisakurek sought to establish another Turkish caliphate throughout the entire Islamic world, based on a restoration of pure Islamic values. His organization views the modern, secular Turkish state as an evil aberration; the state’s secular basis, argued Kisakurek, is responsible for its acquiescence to Western imperialism. The organization’s current leader, Mirzabeyoglu, and his followers consider Kisakurek as the “pioneer” of Islamic thinking in Turkey and the architect of the notion of “Ideal Islamic Society”. The basic principles of this society are described in his works.
The IBDA-C is a particularly radical organization, and is ideologically opposed to virtually every other Islamic Movement. It rejects the Iranian Schism with the same vehemence with which it regards the “illegal” Republic of Turkey. However, this radical ideological opposition has not kept it from cooperating with other organizations trying to destabilize the system of Turkey, particularly with KADEK (Kurdistan Labor Party).
IBDA-C’s organizational structure is similar to the “leaderless resistance” espoused by some American right-wing groups. The organization calls on its members to act according to “ones own dialectic.” Members organize independently, without any hierarchic authority, and both legal and illegal actions are carried out via local “front” groups. Each group determines its goals and targets. Members are united by the common ideology of the “Great East” and do not take commands from a central leader. Thus, each front has little or no information about other fronts or their actions.
The organization operates on two different tiers:
- The “Legal” Tier: The IBDA-C has an active “press unit” that conducts propagandist activity, such as publishing books, periodicals, and organizing legal meetings, conferences and exhibitions. The organization’s most significant propaganda activities are conducted through its many bookstores, websites (for example: www.ibda-c.org) and print-houses. Training sessions held by the press groups are organized through the bookstores.
- The Illegal Tier: Those who adopt the ideas of IBDA-C by reading its periodicals or books, form groups and begin to act independently. Usually, three or five people form fronts to carry out the strategies of the organization. The number of the members of each front is limited for security reasons.The illegal IBDA-C fronts have names like “Ultra Force”, “Alt?nordu”, “Lazistan” and “Union of Revolutionist Sufis.”
IBDA-C does not have many followers, despite the organization’s high profile. Many of its actions are carried out for the sole purpose of enhancing its image as a power to be reckoned with.
The current leader of IBDA-C is Salih Izzet Erdis, 53, who is known by the name Salih Mirzabeyoglu. The organization members call him as the “commander”. As the founder of the organization, he saw IBDA, as a direct continuation of the Buyuk Dogu ideology as shaped by his spiritual mentor Fazil Kisakurek Necip. Salih Izzet Erdis was arrested on 29 December1998. On 4 January1999, he was tried by the Istanbul State Security Court and imprisoned in Metri Jail for attempting to replace the Secular Constitutional order with Islamic Sheriah rules. He and other jailed members of the group have been responsible for instigating prison riots and taking wardens hostage.
Past Terrorist Activities
The IBDA-C prefers to carry out activities that involve little personal risk, such as throwing Molotov cocktails, and sabotage, and bombings. The type the action and the target are announced via the group’s publications to inform members, who are then free to launch their own attacks independently.
One of the organization’s better-known attacks was the firebombing of a hotel in the eastern city of Sivas, which killed 19 people. In February 2000, the group claimed responsibility for a quadruple bomb attack in Istanbul. Turkish police believe that the IBDA-C has also claimed responsibilities for attacks carried out by other groups in order to enhance its image.
The IBDA-C typically attacks the civilian targets, including:
- Churches, charities, minority-affiliated targets.
- TV transmitters, newspapers, and pro secular journalists.
- Ataturk statues.
- Taverns, banks, clubs, and tobacco shops.
- Tradesmen to intimidate the civil people and to find finance for the organization.
- Unconfirmed involvement Jewish synagogue attack in Istanbul in 1992.
- Attempt to assassinate Jewish businessman in 1994.
- Attack on the Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul in 1994.