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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_custom_heading text=”By Martin Hopman” font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1628011442477{margin-bottom: 22px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”125771″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]08/19/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Shouts of pain pierced the gray skies over Artsakh. “For the sake of Allah, I beg you.” Pinned to the ground and surrounded by men in Azerbaijani military garb, there was nothing Yuri, an 82-year-old Christian man, could do to escape. His captors ignored his pleas, handing another a knife, saying, “Take this one.” He was then slowly and deliberately beheaded.

In another similarly gruesome episode, a half-naked elderly man is pinned to the ground by those in Azerbaijani garb. He is decapitated as onlookers applaud and cheer. His head is placed on the carcass of a pig, a reference to how Christians are considered infidels, and the men mock, “This is how we get revenge, by cutting off heads.” Genadi, age 69, like Yuri, was an Armenian Christian.

Sadly, these horrific acts were widely shared on social media during the brief war. Some continued after the ceasefire. The violence was so horrific that one ICC partner shuddered, “In Artsakh, the (fighters) are more barbaric than ISIS was in Iraq and Syria.” The level of evil had its intended effect and shocked the Christians of Artsakh.

Azerbaijan attempted to capture Artsakh years earlier, during the first war, but failed. But this time, with Turkey’s and President Erdogan’s help, they almost succeeded. The key difference in this second war against Artsakh was the mercenaries Erdogan paid for and transported to the war.

But who are they? Think to yourself for just a minute where else you’ve seen Islamic warriors decapitating their opponents.

Those doing the beheading were drawn from the ranks of ISIS and other Islamist fighters known as the “Grey Wolves.”

The Grey Wolves are a shadowy movement that seeks Turkey’s restoration of the glory days of the former Islamic Ottoman Empire. They are driven by hyper-nationalism and Islam and wish to increase Turkey’s regional influence to guarantee the preservation of Turkishness by whatever means necessary.

They are closely tied to Turkey’s nationalist MHP party, a political ally of Turkish President Erdogan’s ruling AKP.

They were the go-between that was responsible for recruiting Syrian ISIS fighters to fight in Azerbaijan’s war.

Many were promised $2,000 a month (with the opportunity for bonuses) depending on the atrocities committed against Armenian Christians. One captured Syrian mercenary shared, “They told us that for every beheaded Armenian, we would get $100. We were issued knives for that purpose.”

The recruiting effort paid off, and soon afterward, you could see thousands of them across social media, proudly flashing the Grey Wolf salute.

Though a ceasefire was agreed to this past November, upwards of 2,000 mercenaries remain in the area surrounding Artsakh.

Their presence clearly signals that the war is not over.

Azerbaijan has celebrated its atrocities—erecting a trophy park that displays the helmets of dead Armenian soldiers, reenacting their deaths in the most humiliating ways possible.

Meanwhile, Turkey is building a Grey Wolf Cultural Center for youth in the now captured city of Shushi.

Erdogan has successfully transformed his country into a regional superpower.

How? By assembling, transporting, and deploying a battle-hardened and extremely violent group of Islamist mercenaries across the region.

His private pack of wolves was released into the sheep pen of Artsakh and did as they were instructed. They tore and devoured.

Their atrocities signal that Erdogan is leading a new era of persecution against the region’s Christians.

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