In the shabby pockets of West German cities where many of the 1.5 million Turkish migrant workers in this country reside, the name "Gray Wolves" is enough to stifle the noisy chatter in coffeehouses and evoke whispers of alarmed suspicion.
For nearly a decade, this shadowy paramilitary group of young right-wing radicals has been accused of conducting a violent crusade of extortion, drug smuggling and beatings within Turkish communities in Europe, all for the greater glory of a banned Turkish political movement that blends racism, Islamic fundamentalism and nationalism.
The Gray Wolves, said to number about 18,000 in Europe, serve as the enforcement arm of the so-called Turkish Federation, an amalgam of about 100 Turkish right-wing groups with 50,000 members. They undergo rigorous training in civil warfare, according to knowledgeable sources.
The Gray Wolves levy dues of $4 a month on each of their 18,000 members. They also take in enormous sums on currency transactions, according to Turkish sources here.
Lately, the Gray Wolves have attracted intense scrutiny from international crime authorities because several of their leaders have been implicated in the movements and preparations of a renegade Gray Wolf, Mehmet Ali Agca, before he shot Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square two years ago.
Investigators have cited the well known links between Turkish smugglers, right-wing politicians in Turkey and Bulgarian authorities as potential evidence that Sofia, or even Moscow, masterminded the shooting of the pope and that it was carried out by Turkish radical hit men.
But the Gray Wolves, and other Turkish rightist radicals in Europe who are allied with them, adamantly reject any suggestion of their conspiratorial involvement and say that Agca was acting out a demented personal obsession when he tried to kill the pope.
For many years, Turkey's right-wing groups profited greatly from drug smuggling activities that were used to finance weapons purchases through the Bulgarian connection, according to knowledgeable sources.
Turkish sources here claim that Alpaslan Turkes, a leading right-wing figure now imprisoned in Turkey, and his followers had permeated important posts in the bureaucracy that allowed them to conduct their illicit business without hindrance.
Musa Cedar Celebi, the former leader of the Gray Wolves in West Germany, now in an Italian jail, reportedly worked as a customs inspector--a handy position for smuggling purposes--before coming to West Germany to head Turkes' political action groups among the Turkish community here. In Frankfurt, he was listed as chairman of the board or manager for two import-export firms that have been accused of smuggling.
The crackdown by the ruling Turkish generals on factional political violence in 1980 sharply curtailed some trade but Turkes' followers abroad allegedly have been able to continue sending millions of dollars to Turkey to finance right-wing political groups.
While the generals' coup may have slowed the guns and drug trade, Turkish sources and West German authorities said that many known political terrorists escaped arrest and fled to havens inside Turkish ghettos in West Germany.
Ankara has sent Bonn more than 40 extradition requests for Turkish terrorists believed to be living in West Germany. But West German laws prohibit extradition to countries that use the death penalty.
West German officials said that perhaps "three or four dozen" Turkish terrorists, linked in vague ways to right-wing political groups, may still be roving around Europe with West German cities as their most frequent ports of call.
But those who knew Agca, such as Oral Celik, thought by some authorities to have been in St. Peter's Square at the time of the shooting, are said to be scrupulously striving to avoid any brush with controversy that might betray their presence.
Celebi is now in an Italian jail after being extradited for allegedly conveying to Agca an offer of 3 million German marks (about $1.2 million) to shoot the pope. The source of the money, a wealthy Turkish smuggler named Bekir Celenk, is under a form of house arrest by Bulgarian authorities in a Sofia hotel.
Celebi was sent to West Germany by Turkes in 1979 to head the Turkish Federation. Following his extradition to Italy, Celebi was replaced by Ali Batman as leader of the Gray Wolves in West Germany at a conference in Stuttgart two months ago. West German authorities say that Batman was trained in right-wing Turkish guerrilla camps where he learned shooting and bomb making.
Another top Gray Wolf, Omer Bagci, was extradited from Switzerland to Rome after the Italian magistrate investigating the papal shooting, Ilario Martella, claimed that Bagci provided the Browning automatic pistol that Agca used in the attack on the pope.
A third leading Gray Wolf, Oral Celik, has apparently known Agca since childhood days in Malatya in eastern Turkey, a hotbed of right-wing nationalism and religious fundamentalism.
Celik is thought to be in hiding somewhere in Europe. Martella reportedly is convinced that Celik is the key missing link to cracking the possible conspiracy to kill the pope.
Since the Turkish generals' clampdown in 1980, when many right-wing firebrands were locked up, the Gray Wolves have kept a low profile because they do not want to lose precious bases abroad, West German authorities said.
Turkes, 66, the head of the banned National Action Party and the leader of Turkey's amorphous radical right-wing political movement, was jailed during the 1980 crackdown, but there are signs that he still wields considerable influence and manages to direct some activities of the Gray Wolves and other right-wing groups from prison.
Through his doctrine of "nine rays of enlightenment," Turkes espouses a fiery mix of religious discipline and pan-Turkism. He and his followers say that some 200 million Turks, including those in Iraq, Iran, China, the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, must be united in one land known as Turan.
The name of the Gray Wolves is derived from the legend of Bozkurt, a gray wolf who saved the original ancestors of modern Turkey during their migration from central Asia.
The Turks were caught in an "iron mountain" when a gray wolf appeared with a burning torch clenched in its jaws. The Turks used the torch to melt the mountain and make their escape, with Bozkurt supposedly leading them to safety in what is now Turkey.
Under the slogan "one people, one nation," Turkes openly speaks of genocide and insists that all minorities must be liquidated in a purified country of Turan.